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Left-Leaning Watchdog Group Asks Utah Elections Office To Investigate Alleged Campaign Finance Violations

A photo of the Utah Senate chamber.
KUER File Photo
A complaint filed with the state elections office alleges Senate President Stuart Adams, R- Layton, and Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, violated campaign finance laws.

Alliance for a Better Utah is asking the state’s elections office to investigate whether Senate President Stuart Adams, R- Layton, and Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, accepted donations from the conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council without reporting them.

The left-leaning watchdog group filed the complaint Monday morning.

ALEC is a non-profit that helps state legislators across the country pass conservative laws. Membership for the group costs lawmakers $100 per year.

It has a service called ALEC Care it gives to its members for free and claims the software is a way to improve lawmakers’ relationships with their constituents.

The complaint filed by Alliance for a Better Utah argued ALEC Care is more like a campaigning tool because of its alleged ties to the Republican National Committee and messaging in a promotional video. Therefore, the complaint said, giving lawmakers the software for free should be considered a donation.

“It's important to find out what influences are going through ALEC and what is coming out of it so that people are more aware that these are forces behind our elections that we might not be aware about,” said Chase Thomas, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah.

The complaint alleges Adams and Fillmore could have broken campaign finance laws since both of them are ALEC members. It also asks the state’s elections office to investigate what other lawmakers are ALEC members and could have potentially committed the same alleged violation.

Senate Chief of Staff Mark Thomas said in a statement the two lawmakers have not used the software in any capacity.

“Their complaint provided no evidence to support this allegation,” Thomas said. “This is an effort by Alliance for Better Utah to spread false information.”

State Elections Director Justin Lee said his office is reviewing the complaint and will investigate further if it merits it.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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