Thursday, November 10, 2011

Salt Lake Tribune: Fundraising Ban May Propel Lawmaker Resignations

An apparently unintended 2011 legislative consequence suddenly puts a wrench into the ambitious plans of Utah House Rep. Wimmer and State Senator Liljenquist

Fascinating story in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune, reporting that "Lt. Gov. Greg Bell cautioned lawmakers Wednesday that they cannot raise money during the legislative session for any political campaign, including congressional or county races, forcing some state lawmakers to contemplate leaving the Legislature to run for office."

There's more interesting information within this morning's Trib story's opening paragraphs:
“I am seriously considering resigning from the Legislature,” said Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, who is running in the new 4th Congressional District. “I’m not sure I’m willing to take a 45-day hiatus from raising money.”

Bell said his office received several inquiries from legislators asking whether a state law prohibiting campaign contributions to legislators during the 45-day legislative session beginning in January would also prevent them from raising money if they were running for any other offices.

“Our office interprets this prohibition to apply to contributions to any campaign for any office for which a legislator may be a candidate,” Bell wrote. “A legislator is always a legislator, regardless of any other office for which he or she may be campaigning.”

It is a class A misdemeanor for donors — but not legislators — to violate the ban.

You can check out the full SLTrib story here:
Although Trib columnist Robert Gehrke's morning story doesn't specify exactly which Utah Code Section is suddenly giving poor ole House Rep. Wimmer and State Sen. Liljenquist painful heartburn, what seems to be at issue here is a Utah campaign finance statute, enacted during the 2011 regular Utah Legislative Session, i.e., Utah Code §36-11-305, which provides (among other prohibitions) that "It is unlawful for any person, lobbyist, principal, or political committee to make contributions to members of the legislature or the governor or to a campaign committee of such a person during a legislative session."

We'll parenthetically add that Utah is one of 28 states which place restrictions on giving and receiving campaign contributions during the legislative session:
Both Utah House Rep. Carl Wimmer and State Senator Dan Liljenquist are planning or contemplating making 2012 runs for federal legislative office, fundraising for which would be legally prohibited during the 45-day 2012 legislative session, of course, according to the Governor's Office:
This apparently unintended legislative consequence certainly throws a wrench into the ambitious plans of Wimmer and Liljenquist, so we'll be watching closely to see whether an amendment or outright repeal of Utah Code §36-11-305 might not be one of the first actions of the 2012 legislature.

Alternately we'll pose to our politically-wonkish WCF readers the obvious question:

Would the pre-2012 Legislative Session resignations of Rep. Wimmer and Sen. Liljenquist actually be a positive or a negative development for the Utah body politic?

Have at it, O Gentle Readers, as we inevitably and ineluctably drift into a non-2011 Ogden Municipal Election topic this morning.


Bob Becker said...

Wimmers political mojo took a hit Tuesday.  He'd gone to AZ to campaign to save the job of right wing extremist State Sen. Pierce, author of AZ's "enforcement only" law regarding illegal immigrants.   The voters, upon hearing Wimmer's endorsement of Pierce, promptly recalled Pierce from office.  First time in AZ legislative history, I believe.    

blackrulon said...

Why not just put up a Zion curtain? If it works to keep children frombring corrupted by  seeing alcholic drinks being prepared why not keep the public from seeing our legislative leaders being bought.

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