GOP leaders agree to campaign contribution limits

GOP leaders agree to campaign contribution limits

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Some Republican legislative leaders say they will support placing limits on campaign contributions when the Legislature convenes in January.

The proposal is being drafted by the Governor's Commission on Strengthening Democracy.

Utah is currently one of six states that places no limits on who can donate to a campaign or how much can be donated.

The proposed caps on individual giving over a two-year election cycle are a $10,000 limit in statewide races, $5,000 in legislative races, $50,000 to political parties and $10,000 to political action committees over two years.

House Speaker Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, says the campaign contribution limit is a significant step toward campaign finance reform in Utah.

"It's a two-sided coin, where you gain something and lose something," Clark said. "We don't want only the well-heeled having the opportunity for public service. But we can try to minimize the influence of money on politics."

In the past, Republicans have opposed campaign contribution limits in favor of more stringent disclosure laws. That's the position Gov. Gary Herbert, who has received $50,000 contributions, has taken so far.

"Governor Herbert's position has been consistent in that he favors full transparency of contributions over limits or caps," said spokeswoman Angie Welling.

Kirk Jowers, the commission's acting chairman and director of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, called the unanimous recommendation historic and said it wouldn't have happened without the backing of House and Senate leaders.

"There was clearly resistance to any limits," Jowers said. "It took a lot of convincing -- and it didn't come together until Thursday."

Jowers said the limits weren't chosen lightly.

"These limits will not affect the vast majority of contributions," Jowers said, "but they will force parties and candidates to engage far more individuals and organizations -- and not just grow fat on the low-hanging fruit."

However, not all lawmakers believe the limits will have a significant affect on elections.

"I looked at those limits and I don't think they'll have much impact," said Senate President Michael Waddoups, who said many of his campaigns when he served in the House were largely low-budget affairs.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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