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Utah panel recommends campaign donation limits

Utah panel recommends campaign donation limits



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A special commission on democracy in Utah has recommended to Gov. Gary Herbert and the state Legislature that cash limits be imposed on donations to state and local candidate campaigns.

The Governor's Commission on Strengthening Democracy voted 10-7 last week to pass the proposal on to state leaders, though the group may fine-tune it first.

Local attorney Randy Dryer made the proposal to limit individual donations to $4,000 per person or group for the race for governor and attorney general; $2,000 to legislative races; $5,000 to political parties; and $2,000 to political action committees.

Special interest money can overshadow elections, said commission member Tom Love. Limiting the amount of money that people, business and PACs can give a candidate "brings us more into balance, levels the playing field just a little bit," he said.

Dryer's proposal also would limit a person's political contributions in an election cycle to $25,000 total.

He said Utah is one of just a handful of states that place no limits at all on state campaign donations.

But some on the commission said they were concerned that placing restrictions on campaign donations violated free speech provisions. Some said full and quick disclosure of all campaign contributions is a better option.

"You take away individual rights by limited the amount we can give," said commission member Bruce Hough, a former state GOP chairman.

KSL Radio host and commission member Doug Wright countered that "we limit individual rights all the time" for the common good.

State Rep. Craig Frank, R-Cedar Hills, told fellow commission members he plans to introduce bills during the legislative session, which starts in January, that would further require candidate contribution disclosures and financial penalties if candidates miss filing deadlines or improperly report or take money.

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Information from: Deseret News

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

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