SALT LAKE CITY -- The Alliance for Unity -- which includes leaders from several faiths, a university president, newspaper publishers and community activists - is urging Utah lawmakers to pass a variety of strong ethics reform measures this next legislative session.
It issued a strongly worded statement Thursday, which will undoubtedly add to the pro-reform momentum that's been building for many months now.
The statement says strong measures lawmakers should pass should include:
- an independent ethics commission
- a tough legislative code of conduct, including conflict of interest provisions
- caps on campaign contributions. Utah is one of just six states with no limits.
- banning gifts from lobbyists.
Executive Director for the Alliance for Unity Alexander Morrison says, "We want government to be transparent and reflect the values of the people of Utah, and we want to make certain that government doesn't fall into the clutches of special interest groups."
The Deseret News recently reported donations to the campaigns of state officials came mostly from special interests, topping $7 million last year.
A couple of groups are gathering signatures to put ethics on the ballot, in the form of a multi-faceted petition addressing a number of the same items the Alliance for Unity is raising. The alliance is not taking a position on any specific proposal.
Legislative leaders have signaled they will address ethics this session, though we've seen such promises go mostly unrealized in the past. The session runs from Jan. 25 to March 11.