Monday, August 15, 2011

Ogden Ethics Project Press Release: Ogden Candidates Weigh In On Ethics

For Immediate Release -- 15 August 2011
Contact: Dan Schroeder, 801-xxx-xxxx


Nearly all of Ogden’s candidates for mayor and city council have expressed their views on ethics in municipal elections and government, in response to inquiries from the Ogden Ethics Project, a nonpartisan organization formed in May. Overall, the Ogden Ethics Project is encouraged by these responses and the ongoing discussions that they ave generated.

As the campaign was getting underway in July, the Ogden Ethics Project sent each candidate a letter and questionnaire.

The questionnaire asked candidates whether they would agree to five specific voluntary limitations on funding their campaigns, provided that all of their opponents similarly agreed. Of the 17 candidates, 11 igned and returned this questionnaire, while three others responded to it in general terms without returning the actual document.

Nearly all of those who responded endorsed three limitations that would avoid certain loopholes in Ogden’s existing campaign finance disclosure rules:

* Accepting contributions from political action committees only if they are in compliance with all laws and are not being used to circumvent contribution limits or disclosure requirements;

* Not accepting contributions made indirectly through third parties;

* Not encouraging others to make independent expenditures, bypassing their campaign treasury, on their behalf or in opposition to any opponent.

The most controversial item on the questionnaire asked candidates not to accept contributions from corporations, business entities, unions, or other organizations, with the exception of registered political action committees (which are subject to disclosure laws). As explained in a Guest Commentary that appeared in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on August 4, this request is intended to remove any appearance of impropriety in the awarding of city contracts, incentives, and permits, and to prevent business entities from being used to circumvent contribution limits and disclosure requirements.

Of the eleven candidates who signed the questionnaire, six endorsed the item that would restrict contributions from businesses and organizations. The Ogden Ethics Project values the diversity of opinion on this issue and understands that it takes time to update a community’s views about such a long-established custom.

The final item on the questionnaire asked candidates to report the name of the employer of any individual who contributes more than $250. This suggestion mirrors a similar requirement in federal campaigns, intended to give voters more information about the special interests that might be backing a candidate. Seven candidates endorsed this proposal.

Because some candidates did not respond, the Ogden Ethics Project will not treat the questionnaires as firm commitments from the candidates who returned them. Some candidates have said they will voluntarily respect the limitations even if their opponents do not similarly agree, and that is their choice. Most importantly, the questionnaire has accomplished the goal of raising awareness of campaign ethics and generating ongoing discussions.

Along with the questionnaire, the Ogden Ethics Project invited each candidate to submit a position statement on ethics in Ogden City Government. Nine candidates took us up on this invitation, and their statements are now posted at Among the responses there were relatively few that addressed specific elements of the Ogden Ethics Project platform pertaining to open government, conflicts of interest, and fairness in city contracting, communications, and personnel matters. This is probably because candidates are unfamiliar with existing ethics laws pertaining to municipal government, and are therefore unsure of how those laws might need modification.

The public is invited to join the discussion of ethics in city government at the Ogden Ethics Blog,

Update 8/17/11 9:48 a.m. (per Dan S. ): The candidates' detailed responses are now finally posted on the Ogden Ethics Project web site:

Better late than never, no?


BlameJohnsonNotMe said...

I think we should invite previous council persons to weigh in on the ethics of Ogden.  Lets start with Blain Johnson.  I can't be the only person who would want to hear what he has to say!  (When are those cashed checks with signatures from Envision Ogden going to be available?)   

Danny said...

I can't see which candidates checked what.  Is it secret?

Dan S. said...

We haven't posted the individual responses yet, because we're still working out the details of how to do this (given the complexity of some candidates' responses), and because we want to emphasize the big picture rather than inviting people to nit-pick. But the responses are not secret. Stay tuned.

BikerBabe said...

Wouldn't you either (1) check the box .. or .. (2) not check the box

How complex can that be?


Dan S. said...

Please read our press release and the candidates' position statements that are posted on our web site. A bare summary of who checked which boxes would give an incomplete and misleading picture. So we're trying to be more careful, in order to be as fair as possible to all the candidates.

Treetopper said...

Did Van Wagoner even graduate from High School?  if so, which one?

Dan S. said...

The candidates' detailed responses are now posted on the Ogden Ethics Project web site (see link in article above).

Already sick of signs said...

I don't know, but he obviously still thinks he's on the cheer squad.
Clap if you like Ogden

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