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Son's role stops Hatch from voting on spending bill

Son's role stops Hatch from voting on spending bill



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch voted "present" on a spending bill after discovering his son, a lobbyist, represented a Utah city that will receive $294,000 to build a church replica.

Earlier this year, the Utah Republican reported to the Senate that neither he nor his family would benefit from an earmark, a disclosure that is required under ethics rules.

He changed course, however, and tried to withdraw the earmark this week after learning that son Scott Hatch may have an "indirect pecuniary interest."

The grant for Riverton was still approved by Congress in a broad spending package Tuesday. It apparently was too late to remove it, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday.

Hatch was the only senator who did not vote yes or no on the bill. "I have chosen to address these issues openly on the floor of the Senate to clear up any facts regarding this completely unintended and unfortunate oversight," Hatch said in a statement that was inserted into the Congressional Record on Wednesday.

"I want my colleagues to know that I always have and will continue to do everything possible to ensure I meet all ethics laws, rules and requirements here in the United States Senate," he said.

Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth said the money will help construct the Old Dome Meeting House, a replica of a church torn down in the late 1930s. The three-story building will serve as a nursing home and a community center.

Scott Hatch's firm was paid $35,000 to represent Riverton in lobbying matters, from January through June, according to a report filed with the Senate. But Applegarth said the younger Hatch has not lobbied the senator on the city's behalf.

The mayor said he had talked to U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, and U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, about the project.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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