A recent Utah poll indicated that Utah legislators were rather out of step when it comes to lobbying gifts (bribes). Most Utahns think such 'gifts' should be either severely curtailed or banned. Most legislators (and more Republican legislators than Democrat legislators) have disagreed up to this point. I'll bet a poll of Utahns would similarly indicate contrary feelings about legislators' application of campaign funds for personal use.
While campaign finance reform bills have been introduced in the past, major reforms continue to die. No bill has yet been filed in the 2008 Legislature that would curtail the unregulated fundraising and spending of legislative campaign cash.Want to avoid that conflict of interest of having a lobbyist pay for a front-row Jazz ticket for you? That's easy--just pay for it yourself...out of your campaign funds, which probably came from the same lobbyists that would have taken you to the Jazz game in the first place. Because you deserve it!!
Meanwhile, Utah continues to have one of the nation's most wide-open set of campaign laws.
State candidates can raise campaign money from anyone, in any amount. They can spend the money in any amount on any legal activity or purchase. The only requirement is disclosure — they must say where they got donations of more than $50 and list all their expenditures. It's legal to give campaign money to themselves, with the only requirement that they pay income taxes on the gifts.
Analysis shows that about 98 percent of the $848,000 in campaign money donated to legislators during the nonelection 2007 year came from special interests such as corporations, lobbyists and political action committees.Did your car break down? Campaign funds will take care of that! Who cares if you already get a per diem for being in the legislature. You deserve it!
Does that pesky legislative job not pay as much as your civilian job? Campaign funds to the rescue!
Campaign gifts, mostly from the same lobbyists who lavish the legislators with
The reason legislators keep so many campaign funds is because they can. Utah campaign finance laws are some of the most lax in the country. But they deserve it..because they're the aristocracy, right?lunches, hunts, and Jazz games, have been used for all of these purposes and more.
How about giving money to a different candidate. Not so bad, but the people who donated to you donated to you. How about giving money to your husband to run for a completely different political office? Well....it's legal, isn't it? ;-)
While we're fixing the day-to-day lobbying gift problem, why don't we fix the other one as well. Campaign donations, in addition to being reported, as is already required, should not be transferrable, except for specifically designated causes.
Repaying yourself for previous personal loans to your campaign? That's legitimate. Buying clothes for yourself and your spouse? That's not.
It appears, by the way, the a lot more of these gift-getters have an "R" by their names than those who have a "D". But regardless of party affiliation, what can be going on in these people's minds? Someone interviewed by the Deseret News stated that
...the main reason so many politicians raise so much money — year after year even if they don't have an election — "is because they can. Lobbyists are always willing to give, in part to keep up good relations" with a legislator.Do they think they deserve it? Maybe so, because, after all they're the Utah aristocracy...aren't they?