An new campaign finance law passed in the 2012 Legislature requiring that local city and county candidates have separate campaign accounts won’t be affecting the tough intra-party battle between state Sens. Ross Romero and Ben McAdams for the Salt Lake County mayor’s post.
HB493 by Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, says that candidates for local offices must set up separate campaign accounts from their other accounts, like a Utah Senate campaign account.
Romero, the Democratic Senate minority leader, says Salt Lake County campaign ordinances already require such a separate account.
County campaign finance laws also limit contributions from any entity, including a legislative account.
“I’ve already made that limited contribution” from his Senate account to his county mayor’s race -- $6,000, Romero told UtahPolicy.
McAdams has also given his campaign $6,000 from his Senate campaign account. The next county mayor campaign filing is Thursday.
Both McAdams and Romero, following state legislative campaign finance law, had to file 2011 year-end reports, now on file at the Utah Elections Office.
But, says McAdams, HB493 will force some other Salt Lake County mayor candidates to file a new report.
McAdams, an attorney, says, for example, West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder (running for county mayor), who under that city ordinances doesn’t have to file another report on his mayoral campaign account for several years, has been conducting some fundraisers in that account.
And while it is true that Winder, like McAdams and Romero, can only take $6,000 from that account and spend it in his county campaign account, “you can do other things with it,” says McAdams, “like maybe pay for a poll seeing how you are doing as West Valley mayor, but that could help you see what county residents think of you, as well.”
In any case, those special, new reports need to come into the County Clerk’s office on April 5, as well, says McAdams.
“I’ll certainly be watching to see what some (county) candidates are doing with their non-county campaign accounts,” said McAdams.
The Salt Lake County campaign laws are a big change from state campaign law that Romero and McAdams have been following. There are no individual or corporate donation limits to statewide or legislative campaigns.
So a legislator running for governor, for example, could empty his legislative account and give it all to his gubernatorial effort.
The county candidate’s pre-convention financial reporting deadline comes Thursday, but Romero declined to say what that report will detail. “It’s not ready yet,” he said.
McAdams said while he’s still compiling his, it will show that he’s raised “around $25,000” since the end of the 2012 Legislature on March 8. (Under state law a legislator can’t fund raise during a general session).
As of the Jan. 31 county campaign report, Romero had raised $86,030, spent $35,492 and had $50,000 in cash.
McAdams as of Jan. 31 raised $105,260 and spent $51,929 and had $53,000 in cash.
Individuals and businesses are limited to $6,000 donations in the county mayor’s race. Some interesting donations:
-- Romero, an attorney, works for Zions Bank. Zions gave McAdams $1,000. It also gave Romero $1,000.
-- Long-time moderate Democrat Kem Gardner gave McAdams $6,000 personally and $6,000 from one of his real estate development firms.
-- McAdams got $1,000 from the gay rights group Equality Utah and $6,000 from an investment arm of the restaurant group Gastronomy, which in the past has supported gay rights candidates.
-- Equity Utah also gave Romero $1,000, and Gastronomy donated around $1,000 in-kind to him.
-- James Huntsman, brother to former Utah GOP Gov. Jon Huntsman, gave Romero $2,500.
-- As reported previously by UtahPolicy, Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, gave Romero $2,000.
-- Incumbent County Democratic Mayor Peter Corroon, from his leadership PAC, has given Romero and McAdams each $2,000.