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Politics & Government

House Passes Bill To Ban Anonymous Campaign Donations

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auntneecey via Flickr
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A bill passed the Utah House today that would restrict political candidates from accepting anonymous campaign donations. 

House Bill 91 forbids political candidates from accepting monetary gifts of more than $50 from nameless donors. Candidates who do receive such a donation, would be required to give it to a non-profit or non-political government entity.   Republican Representative Kraig Powell is the sponsor of the bill. He referenced an event where the mayor of Bountiful, Utah received multiple anonymous donations totaling more than $10,000 as a potential threat to transparency in campaign finance reporting.

“It seems that allowing this practice to grow, as the Lieutenant Governor’s office testified in committee that it is continuing to grow is not healthy,” Powell said.

State law allows political candidates to record anonymous contributions of up to $50 on campaign finance disclosures. But it doesn’t say what candidates should do with nameless gifts above that amount.

Republican Representative Daniel McCay argued against limiting anonymous donations making concessions for contributors who either don’t want credit for the gift or fear retaliation.

“I think many of us, in fact I can think of a lot of contributions that I would like to not disclose, because at the end of the day, they don’t look good on my campaign finance report,” McCay said. “But who am I to stop them from contributing?”

For the Lieutenant Governor’s office, the issue is more administrative than political. The office’ deputy director of elections Justin Lee told KUER, they’re not seeing a deluge of anonymous contributions, but rather legal questions from candidates about what to do with the money. 

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