Reform is the hot topic on Capitol Hill in these final days of the 2014 general legislative session. On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed two sweeping campaign reform bills resulting from the multiple scandals surrounding former Attorney General John Swallows (Republican).
Representative Jim Dunnigan (Republican – Taylorsville), chair of the House Special Investigation Committee overseeing the House’s investigation of Swallow, successfully passed HB394, which will require candidates for office to report loans made by the candidates to their campaign. It will also require specific itemization and details of any campaign money paid to consulting firms.
The second to pass yesterday was HB390, which expands on Utah’s existing RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) laws to include unlawful conduct during a legislative investigation.
Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (Democrat – Salt Lake City), who sponsored HB390, called the need for legislative action “abundantly clear.” “[The bill] ensures these individuals who have malintent can be dealt appropriately with the full scope of Utah criminal law,” said Chavez-Houck.
The bills reflect two main issues the House committee found during its investigation of the former Attorney General, that Swallow (allegedly) created and destroyed evidence in order to collaborate his defense narrative, and, that he had hidden hundred of thousands of dollars paid to consulting firm Guidant Strategies under the innocuous sounding “consulting fees” on his public disclosures.
HB 394 passed the House unanimously, while HB 390 received only one nay vote (from Lehi Republican Representative Jake Anderegg).