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Sources Not Disclosed for Some Anti-Huntsman and Pro-Amendment 3 Donations

Sources Not Disclosed for Some Anti-Huntsman and Pro-Amendment 3 Donations

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- An environmental group refuses to say who all is paying for telephone calls blasting Republican gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman Jr.

And the source of much of money being spent to boost Amendment 3, the anti-gay marriage proposal, also is mysterious.

Regarding the anti-Huntsman campaign, Craig Axford, spokesman for the newly formed political action committee Concerned Utahns for a Healthy Future, said, "We could tell you who is paying for this. But I think people can judge the message on its own merits.

"Who's financing it is not relevant," he told the Deseret Morning News.

Axford said, however, the group will file that information with the state Elections Office before voters go to the polls Tuesday. And he said the bulk of the estimated $3,000 cost of the phone bank calls made Wednesday was paid by unidentified labor unions.

Axford said the phone bank made calls to some 102,000 Utahns in swing districts throughout the state.

Because the group apparently didn't spend money until after the deadline Tuesday for the final financial disclosure statements before the election, it is not required to provide information about the contributions or spending until January, election officials said.

The tactics have been condemned by the campaigns of both Huntsman and his Democratic opponent, Scott Matheson Jr. A letter requesting that the calls "immediately cease and desist" was hand-delivered to Axford's home Wednesday night by the Matheson campaign.

"People get confused. They attribute it to our campaign. I don't think it helps us," Matheson's campaign manager, Mike Zuhl, said. "I think it's negative campaigning and we don't want to have any association with it."

Huntsman's campaign manager, Jason Chaffetz, said he doesn't believe the Matheson camp "would resort to such dirty, sleazy tricks. ... You have some radical faction out there that wants to take their personal potshots."

The group is telling voters that Huntsman should be held accountable for the pollution from his family's petrochemical plants in Texas. On Monday, it held a press conference with a Texas family suing Huntsman Corp. over their daughter's asthma.

Axford said the airline tickets for the family were purchased by an anonymous donor -- whom he described as a prominent Utahn -- prior to formation of the group. Because that donor did not seek reimbursement, Axford told state officials he was not disclosing the expense.

Amy Naccarato, state elections officer, said if the tickets were paid for by an individual, "then it's totally within the law. (Political action committees) are only responsible to report donations that are given to them. Individuals can act on their own."

Meanwhile, an organization called Marriage Education Initiatives is helping bankroll support for Amendment 3.

It was organized the same day the first check was written and did not file forms disclosing its $170,000 in donations with the state Elections Office as required by Utah law, The Salt Lake Tribune said. Company trustees, including Republican operative Neal Blair, did not return phone calls for comment, the newspaper said.

Recipients of the money claimed ignorance about any other details Thursday, the newspaper said.

Don't Amend Alliance Director Scott McCoy said, "They seem to be setting up a dummy organization to hide where their money is coming from. This appears to be nothing more than a passthrough. They've laundered money through this organization that nobody's heard of."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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