Utah Gov. Herbert in no rush to disclose donors

Utah Gov. Herbert in no rush to disclose donors

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is in no rush to disclose his campaign donors, even though he favors a law that would require candidates to do so within 48 hours.

The contradiction became apparent Thursday during a taping of his monthly KUED news conference in which he told reporters that he would voluntarily post campaign contributions to a Web site, but didn't specify when he would get around to doing so.

"As the appropriate time happens, we'll have a Web site, we'll file and we'll do all those things necessary, and I will, in fact, voluntarily have instantaneous disclosure of campaign donations," said Herbert, who has raised at least $123,000 for his campaign since June.

Herbert's support for rapid campaign finance disclosure also appears inconsistent with his own decision to use a political action committee as his primary fundraising arm, which allows his campaign to go months at a time without identifying who is donating tens of thousands of dollars to him.

Utah, unlike most other states, doesn't place a limit on campaign contributions from individuals, PACs or corporations

Even without using a campaign account, Herbert could subject himself to the same 30-day disclosure requirement candidates face by funneling donations to an account all office holders are required to have.

Herbert's PAC will have filed only two financial disclosure reports before the Utah Republican Party's convention in May. The first report came on Aug. 31. The next one is due Jan. 10.

Herbert told reporters that he'll eventually file paperwork to run for governor that would require him to report donations within 30 days of receiving them, but he's been too busy. The office for filing disclosure reports is roughly 20 yards down the hall from the governor's office.

"My concentration right now is on governing," he said. "I've just been on the job here for a month and half, having at least the legal authority. So let's govern first. I needed to make sure we get that going before we concentrate on any kind of re-election."

Herbert took office in August following the resignation of Jon Huntsman to become U.S. ambassador to China. To say Herbert hasn't been concentrating on the special election in 2010 to fill out the remainder of Huntsman's term is a significant stretch.

Herbert began fundraising shortly after learning in May that Huntsman would be resigning. He has regularly held campaign strategy sessions and is planning a $500 a plate fundraising gala on Oct. 30 where sponsorships can be bought for $50,000.

If Herbert waits until after that gala to open a campaign account, everyone who contributes to his PAC will go unnamed until January unless he voluntarily provides their names.

When asked if he would post his campaign donations on a Web site after the gala, Herbert was noncommittal.

"That's probably worth consideration. I just haven't thought about it," Herbert said. "I have nothing to hide. I think instantaneous disclosure is a principle that ought to be embraced by everybody."

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

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