Utah redistricting initiative collects $860K, spends most


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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Organizers of a Utah ballot initiative that would create a new system for drawing the state's legislative and congressional districts raised $860,000 this year, and have already spent most of it to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot.

The most recent financial disclosure from last month shows that the political issues committee behind the Better Boundaries initiative received many small contributions plus large donations from national advocacy organizations and a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, the Deseret News reported Saturday.

Utahns for Responsive Government received $200,000 from former candidate Mike Weinholtz, $355,000 from the Houston-based Action Now Initiative, and 100,000 from the Campaign for Democracy in Los Angeles, according to the filings.

The group's initiative would form a seven-member independent commission to recommend redistricting plans to the state Legislature. The commission would be appointed by the governor and by both Republican and Democratic legislative leaders. The Legislature would not be bound by the commission's recommendation, but lawmakers would be required to enact or reject it.

The committee had about $30,500 remaining last month after spending most of its funds to gather about 190,000 voter signatures, more than enough to get the initiative on the November ballot.

"The process is very expensive," Better Boundaries Co-Chairman Jeff Wright said. "Our next goal was about $1 million overall throughout the rest of the campaign and I think we're close to halfway there."

While out-of-state groups wrote large checks in support of the initiative, Wright said the focus going forward will be on raising money within the state. Many of the smaller contributions have come from local Republicans, like himself, he said.

State lawmakers redraw maps every 10 years for congressional, legislative and state school board districts to adjust for population changes and to ensure equal representation.

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Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com

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