Utah candidates disclose campaign contributions online

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As they see the thousands of dollars contributed for legislative candidates, Utahns who check out the latest campaign filings may ask: How much is too much? The information is now available online at the Lieutenant governor's new Utah Financial Disclosures Web site.

The site shows that contributions, overall and in individual donations, are growing. One example: Draper Republican Greg Hughes, a strong school voucher advocate in a tough re-election race, lists a $20,000 contribution from Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock.com.

Hughes did not return our calls, but Overstock's president, Jonathan Johnson, told us, quote: "Greg Hughes has been a good representative for Utah, and he has fought for issues that are near and dear to Patrick's heart."

Also, Salt Lake County Republicans gave Hughes, who ended up winning, $14,000 in contributions the last few weeks of the race.

Democrats say they are interested in putting campaign contribution limits on the list of ethics reforms this year.

"I think Democrats are very interested in discussing the whole. If we're going to talk about something like that and have a comprehensive reform, you need to start talking about everything. So, you're going to see more pushes, I think, on the Democratic side to having everything on the table," said Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City.

But the GOP sharply criticizes Democrats for taking $400,000 from one Park City donor. Republicans say the Democratic Party took that money and spent it on undisclosed candidates.

"Unfortunately, the Democrats had an individual, Art Lipsom give over $400,000. But you don't see those types of contributions listed on Democrat candidates disclosures because it was funneled through the Democratic Party," said James Evans, chair of the Salt Lake County Republican Party.

Former House Speaker Greg Curtis had more than $300,000 left in his campaign accounts. He told me this afternoon he won't spend it on personal use. He says it will either go to future campaign or political donations or to a charitable organization.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com

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