Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Std-Ex Letter: Campaign Finance Disclosure Means Transparency

Assuming for sake of argument that Johnson and Eccles could theoretically "cure" the inaccuracies in their earlier financial disclosure statements by the subsequent filing of amended statements, such cure remains nevertheless incomplete

We'd like to direct our readers' attention to this Jan Hamer letter to the editor, which was posted to the Standard-Examiner live website yesterday, stirring the pot once again on the Envision Ogden money laundering scandal:
Campaign finance disclosure means transparency
For purposes of this morning's discussion, we'll cut to the chase and incorporate this key paragraph, which argues that Ogden City Attorney Gary Williams needs to take another look at this situation, and re-examine the conduct of the involved parties from a slightly different angle:
The point of campaign finance disclosure is transparency: voters have a right to know who is giving financial support to candidates for office. The Ogden City Code forbids anonymous contributions and contributions made by one person in the name of another (Section 1-8-3 B and C). Either FNURE exists and is effectively anonymous, since no records have been found and no one who might know will give names, or it is a fiction that existed only on paper for the purpose of passing money from Envision Ogden to candidates for office. Either way, both the spirit and the letter of the law have been violated. Section 1-8-7 of the Code provides that any person violating any provision of the chapter is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor and no person convicted thereof shall be permitted to take or "hold the office to which the person was elected..." I think the City Attorney should take another look at this. [Emphasis and links added].
Jim Hutchins also hit this nail squarely on the head, and framed the issue in his comments to the city council on April 21, 2009:
Yet, we have a situation where an organization, Friends of Northern Utah Real Estate, received money ($20,700) from Envision Ogden and paid out the same amount of money (minus $10) to two candidates for office, Councilman Johnson and Mr. Eccles. Yet, no one seems to be able to name any of the people involved with Friends of Northern Utah Real Estate. If no one in the organization has a name, is that not an 'anonymous' organization making an 'anonymous' donation? [Emphasis added].
Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that Johnson and Eccles, through the filing of amended financial disclosure statements, might theoretically "cure" the inaccuracies in their earlier filings under applicable principles of law, such a cure would yet remain incomplete in this instance. FNURE has neither filed a fictitious business name statement, nor registered as a PAC. So far as we can tell, FNURE has made no filings with the IRS, or publicly registered in any manner so as to disclose the true identities of its "members." Adding insult to injury, Eccles and Johnson have in fact actively suppressed the names of the true FNURE "donor(s)." If FNURE can't be characterized as an anonymous donor under present circumstances, it's difficult to contemplate who could ever be regarded as anonymous in any instance.

In its present posture therefore, the shadowy FNURE entity, (and the people behind it, if any other than Mr. Johnson himself) still remain no less anonymous than they were the day before the filing of the amended disclosure statements; and Mr. Johnson and Mr. Eccles thus arguably remain in violation of Section 1-8-3.

Perhaps some enterprising soul will take it upon him/herself to file a new complaint with Mr. Williams. We're dying to find out how Williams will obfuscate his way out of this problem.

And yes. We believe the council does need to immediately initiate its own investigation on this, either by appointing an investigative committee as Mr. Hutchins suggested, or by acting to appoint a special prosecutor. We hope they'll get on the stick.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?


ozboy said...

Folks can yell foul all they want over this latest of Godfreyite criminal actions, but ain't nothin gonna happen to investigate it, or keep the same kind of BS from happening in the future.

The Lil Lord either has the legal investigative powers under his direct and strict control - think Greiner and Williams, or the rest of them are either afraid of him or are part of the same corrupt machine that will never investigate their own - think the county and state attorneys.

While they all like to sit around and congratulate themselves for being part of the most "efficient" government in America, they totally ignore the fact that they are also a big part of the most insider dealing and corrupt.

Morris said...

The city council has a legal obligation to vigilantly pursue this, and to ensure that the city's election laws are enforced. In the current posture, FNURE could be a front for Wayne Ogden, Val Southwick, Jeffrey Daumer and Matt Godfrey, for all the lumpencitizens would know. So long as the council dawdles on this, campaign disclosure transparency remains one big joke.

Get moving on this, Ogden City Council. As the 2009 election approaches, we'll be watching closely, to differentiate between city council members who take their sworn obligations seriously, and those who sit on their thumbs.

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