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Billboard Company Defends Ads Endorsing Mayoral Candidates

Citizens for Independent Government has no plans to remove any billboards endorsing candidates for Salt lake City Mayor, despite at least one candidate rebuking the endorsement.

Citizens for Independent Government, the Political Action Committee headed up by Reagan Outdoor Advertising, has posted billboards across the city bearing the names and faces of every candidate for Salt Lake City mayor…except for incumbent Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.

Nate Sechrest is an attorney for Reagan Outdoor Advertising.

“We have four excellent non-incumbent candidates,” Sechrest says. “Any of them would be an incredibly competent mayor. They’d all do a fantastic job. We didn’t feel like they were necessarily getting the attention and the coverage they merited.”

The candidates the PAC endorsed weren’t involved in the decision to erect the billboards. Salt Lake City Councilman and Mayoral Candidate Luke Garrott has asked the company to take his down.

But Sechrest says the organization will not remove the billboard and has purposefully acted independently to steer clear of any legal or ethical boundaries. Mayor Ralph Becker says the PAC is acting unethically. Reagan Outdoor Advertising has already maxed out its campaign contributions to Jackie Biskupski’s mayoral campaign and Becker says the company created the PAC to circumvent those legal limits.

“Whether it’s legal or not, they have clearly evaded the clear intent of Salt Lake City policy and presumably the ordinance needs to get addressed,” Becker says. “I think it’s been some time since there have been any close look at the city’s campaign funding laws.”

Becker has gained the ire of Reagan Outdoor Advertising for his opposition to electronic billboards and support for scaling back the number of billboards allowed in the city. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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