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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. announced Tuesday an ethics plan for the governor and state legislators that he said would inspire public confidence and eliminate conflicts of interest.
Huntsman, a former U.S. ambassador to Singapore and eldest son of philanthropist and petrochemical billionaire Jon Huntsman, called ethics the "first priority for any discussion in this campaign." He added that he was not "pointing fingers or casting aspersions, we are only giving a preview to what voters can expect from a Huntsman administration."
"This commitment to ethics reform will from hereon be a prism through which we view all of our future issues," he said.
The plan calls for a two-year term limit on the governor's office, which Huntsman said was a sufficient time frame in which to enact "good ideas," a two-year ban on lobbying for elected and appointed state officials once they leave office, and a ban on fund-raising during a legislative session and 30 days before and after.
In addition, Huntsman called for a ban on gifts for the governor and full disclosure of donations on a monthly basis, both policies he said he will abide by during the campaign.
Huntsman also said he would not accept endorsements nor money from special interest groups, which he defined as any group having business before the state.
In response to a reporter's question whether Huntsman's family wealth made it easy for him to forgo special interest money, he said he was running a transparent, grass-roots campaign regardless of his wealth or connections. Asked whether he would accept donations from his family, Huntsman said he would accept money and endorsements from individuals, but not special interest groups.
He estimated his campaign would cost between $2 and $4 million.
Phone messages seeking comment about Huntsman's ethics plan from Utah's Republican and Democratic parties were not immediately returned.
Gov. Olene Walker, who hasn't revealed whether she will run for governor in the crowded race, said Tuesday she agreed with Huntsman's call for full disclosure but said the governor is already banned from raising political donations during the legislative session.
Walker said she disagreed with the gift ban, saying foreign visitors offering gifts might be offended if the governor was not able to accept them.
The governor further noted that limiting campaign contributions will make it harder for those candidates who are not independently wealthy to run for office.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)