FLAGGED BILL: HB 43 – Campaign Finance Reporting by Corporations, Rep. Greg Hughes

Rep Greg Hughes (R)

Rep Greg Hughes (R)

Election reform has become a major topic of discussion this legislative session, and for the first time in recent memory, the trend appears to be moving towards more open and transparent elections.

Representative Greg Hughes (R – Draper) is adding to the laundry list of election related reform by proposing HB 43 – Campaign Finance Reporting by Corporations (as amended).

Currently, if a Political Action Committee (PAC) or a Political Interest Committee (PIC) were to  decide to participate in any particular election (be it for the election of a candidate or the passage or failure of an issue), those PICs and PACs must divulge not only where they spent money, but also who contributed to these organizations. Likewise, when individuals contribute to a campaign, the campaign must also divulge the names of contributors.

Under current state law, however, corporations do not need to divulge the names of those that contribute to their money pools that are specifically intended political campaigns.  In general, these donations do go through PACs owned by the corporations – if the company is large enough to have taken the time to set one up. These corporations must still report the donation, but they have not been required to divulge donors.

Hughes is attempting to require companies to divulge the names of those who contribute to the company for the purpose of engaging in political activities, and it is a laudable goal. Objections have focused primarily on the undue burden that this may place on business and that individuals have the right to remain anonymous if they so choose. However, both of these arguments can be offset by the fact that, as we stated above, various other originations are already required to report for their political activity – companies should be no different. Likewise anonymity should be respected, but moderate to large donations have a far reaching effect on our political process.

Lawmakers have expressed a deep dislike of campaign finance limits, therefore, the only legitimate way to achieve some sort of reasonable election finance reform is disclosure. If an individual or corporation is spending tesn of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars to influence an election – the public has a right to know who is paying for it. Hughes’ bill would provide a more level playing field and make the process more open.

To contact Rep. Hughes, Click Here or call 801-572-5305

Impact on Average Utahn:

High Impact   5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0   No Impact

Need:

Necessary   5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0  Unnecessary

Overall Ranking:

Great Bill  5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5  Poor Bill

3 comments for “FLAGGED BILL: HB 43 – Campaign Finance Reporting by Corporations, Rep. Greg Hughes

  1. February 28, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    I am in favor of this bill. We need more transparency for campaignes.

  2. Maryann Martindale
    March 4, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I disagree with the categorization of this as a good bill. I think it should be called the Shell Corporation Creation Act because all it does is encourage corporations (which is any incorporated entity, c3s and c4s) to create a PAC or PIC to shield their donors. The only people who will end up being effected by this are smaller c3s that don’t have an infrastructure to create separate entities.

    • April 27, 2013 at 9:12 am

      Many of the Utahns affected by this (corporations and other political companies, and their Utah employees), which requires donation and contribution individual names and the amounts provided, including membership rolls and their donations, and the previous laws that already required reporting of this same information by corporations.

      While it is true that a few of these companies have wealthy donors who contribute a large amount of cash to promote pro or con candidates and/or issues, a vast majority of these are funded largely by low dollar donors, most of whom reside in Utah.

      Several years ago, I joined the Tea Party Patriots. We are dedicated to smaller government with less government spending, greater adherence to the Constitution and the promotion of free markets.

      We are a small, grassroots company that facilitates holding protest rallies for or against issues or candidates that were not consistent with our goals.

      With this new law, when we protest things (and remember, we have only several pre-1965 90% silver coins to rub together), the state would require a heavy burden of the TPP, including all member lists and amounts contributed.

      This information would be published by the state throughout the country so that those who oppose TPP philosophy could persecute any individual on the member lists. And when the TPP develop a PAC to try to make a real difference, who will be providing big bucks to the PAC? I think it will remain a grassroots, small donations organization that can only be hurt by this legislation.

      This actually happened in California to those supporting Prop 8. After Prop 8 won, organized gay activists initiated publishing supporters’ names and addresses, some businesses were banned by gays and their supporters and were forced out of business. Threats of violence were also made by gays and their supporters against those who supported Prop 8. It can happen in Utah and it will only get uglier.

      Talk about ugly, the Democrats said that either Republicans vote for more gun control laws or they will be responsible for all further incidents of gun violence. Where the truth is that nothing in the gun control proposals would have prevented the Sandy Hook disaster, Republicans will be blamed, even for blocking a plan that would not provide the desired effect.

      I’m also a member of the NRA and I provide a few dollars here and there for gun causes. I can’t afford much, but irregardless, my name would be published and my family and I would be targeted by increasingly violent gun-grabbers.

      The main reason that this is neither a good nor a bad bill is that its an unlawful bill (see Citizens United Supreme Court Case). And what we so often want to forget these days is that the Constitution does matter. We want to consider whether a bill might help one side more than another, or whether we think it might be a good bill that accomplishes a good purpose.

      Nobody stops to think about the downside. Like do we really believe that we can take away some peoples’ right to remain an anonymous donor to a political cause thereby potentially restricting their 1st Amendment Rights (what the Supreme Court calls the most highly protected form of speech by the Constitution)? The Supreme Court also said that “there cannot be too much free speech” and that such restrictions on free political speech are unconstitutional.

      So, after great expense and hard work by the state, these laws will eventually reach the Supreme Court where they will deservedly be struck down. On the other hand, we could realize that what initially seemed like a good idea, wasn’t. And let’s repeal these bills because they’re un-American and unconstitutional

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