Corroon turns up heat on Herbert over campaign contributions

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon turned up the heat on Gov. Gary Herbert Thursday, saying he will keep asking tough questions about the governor's campaign contributions.

"As governor, Gary Herbert should be the one leading ethics reform, not the one following and looking for the lowest common denominator," Corroon said.

As governor, Gary Herbert should be the one leading ethics reform, not the one following and looking for the lowest common denominator.

–Peter Corroon

The two candidates appeared together for the first time since controversy first erupted late last week.

Herbert and Corroon both gave keynote speeches at the 25th Anniversary Celebration for Voices of Utah Children. The two men addressed the crowd about the future of Utah's children, differing in their assessment of the state's children and in their approach to campaign questions asked after the event.

Afterward, the governor left quickly and avoided the press, but Corroon stayed to talk to the media.

"We need a governor who will stand up, speak to the citizens, speak to the press, have an open government for the citizens," Corroon said. "That's what I've tried to do in Salt Lake County, not run from the press, not run from the citizens."

Corroon says Herbert should lead efforts on campaign finance reform, and that's why the Democratic candidate for governor has changed his TV campaign ads.

"The ads are meant to bring people's attention to who supports campaign finance reform and who doesn't," Corroon said.

Herbert's sent a letter to Corroon Thursday calling the claims in those ads. In the letter, Herbert said "there is no basis of truth for the allegations you have made." [CLICK HERE to read the entire letter from Herbert]

KSL and the Deseret News learned Monday Utah paid a $13 million settlement to one of the unsuccessful bidders for a record $1.7 billion Utah County road contract. That deal still raises questions for Corroon about the influence of campaign contributions to the governor.

Herbert has countered with his own targeted ads.

"The best thing I can do for anybody in this state, particularly our children, is to have a healthy economy," Herbert said in his address Thursday.

Herbert said all that the state does should be measured by how it helps the economy.

"We are leading the nation out of the economic downturn," he said. "For the first time in three years we are adding jobs. That's a good thing for all of us, and a great thing for our children."

The governor highlighted an initiative to improve reading proficiency and says 10,000 more children have insurance today than three years ago.

Corroon said the state needs to improve in infant vaccinations and high school graduation rates.

"In a state where family values are important, we cannot just talk about them, we must invest in those values," Corroon said. "We cannot accept the status quo."

After the speeches, Herbert left for an appointment but KSL spoke his campaign manager about Corroon's comments following the meeting. He said there have been few governors more transparent than Herbert and added the governor does get busy running the state.


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Jed Boal


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