In separate UtahPolicy interviews on Monday, the men discussed how candidate and PAC and PIC disclosures could be reformed to provide more transparency.
“The idea,” said Valentine, R-Orem, “is to better match up those who are giving with those who are receiving.”
And a few “loopholes,” if that is the right word, could be closed.
Valentine is looking at several different areas, some still to be fleshed out.
-- Have candidates and officeholders keep their campaign accounts “active” for longer time frames.
In the case of a state senator, who serves four years, he or she would report more often in years they are not running for re-election.
“Now, they only file year-end reports. They should file like other candidates” that are up for election.
One example, not given by Valentine, but by this reporter, is former Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville.
Waddoups retired from office in 2012, and so he only had to file a year end report.
Yet Waddoups was fundraising, or at least accepting contributions, during 2012 and expending money out of his personal campaign account.
You can see his year-end report here.
Even though he wasn’t seeking re-election, Waddoups raised $9,800 last year and spent nearly $33,000.
He ends his legislative career with a tidy sum of $119,175 in his campaign account.
There are some rules in how that money can be spent, including giving it to political parties, candidates and charities. Waddoups and his wife Anna Kay this year will leave on a mission for the LDS Church.
Even though he wasn’t running for re-election, Waddoups accepted $2,500 from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, an internal GOP Senate PAC that he helped oversee, on Jan. 18, 2012.
Much of the $33,000 Waddoups spent out of his campaign account was for reimbursements for expenses, including $2,567.05 to his wife for 2012 mileage and a taxi ride.
Under Valentine’s ideas, Waddoups would have been filing periodic campaign reports during 2012, not just a year-end report as he was walking out the door.
-- PACs and PICs would also be filing financial statements more often, matching up with candidate filings during an election year.
That, says Valentine, would allow the public and media to “match-up” who is giving to who is getting – and see if the numbers and dates coincide.
The only exemptions would be that a candidate has to file before a county or state convention in which he appears before delegate voters.
PACs and PICs wouldn’t have to file before every county convention, since there are 29 of them for Republicans and Democrats alike.
-- For some time lobbyists who give money to a legislator for the purpose of helping him win a leadership election had to have the leadership candidate list such a contribution.
But there could be differences in what the lobbyist thought he was giving for, and what the leadership candidate (who also has a campaign account for his re-election) thought the money was for.
In addition, it is against the law for a registered lobbyist to attempt to “influence” a leadership election. And what could be more influence than giving money in a leadership race?
“There were inconsistencies,” said Hillyard, R-Logan.
Hillyard has SB117, which would have removed from code the requirement that a candidate and lobbyist report a lobbyist contribution aimed at helping a leadership candidate win a leadership post, like Senate president or House speaker.
Since it was already illegal for a lobbyist to influence a leadership race, the prohibition seemed double jeopardy.
However, in reality, rarely, if ever, does one find a contribution to a legislator from a lobbyist earmark such a cash gift for a leadership race.
Hillyard said his concerns about lobbyists and giving to leadership candidates will be woven into Valentine’s bill – “Which will be much more comprehensive; I was just looking at one little slice of the issue.”
I can’t remember ever seeing such an earmark on a candidate/legislator’s report.
But there has been some hanky-panky in leadership contests before.
And despite the law that says lobbyists cannot get involved in leadership contests, in fact it happens with some regularity.
Just last year, a well-known lobbyist (who said he wasn’t involved in a leadership race), still gave a hefty campaign contribution to a House member just before the leadership races to “make amends” – UtahPolicy was told -- for the apparent appearance that he was backing another candidate for the leadership post.
And two years ago, then-Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, wrote an open letter on the Senate blog to lobbyists warning them not to get involved in Senate leadership races that year.
Sen. Pete Knudson, R-Brigham City, joked after re-election to his and other current leaders to new terms in their posts that if one believed “the talk around the Capitol” by lobbyists and others that they were all going to lose their leadership re-elections.
Would it be easier to pair up lobbyists’ campaign contributions to leadership candidates just before those internal elections with more disclosure by sitting senators and other lawmakers?
“I won’t give you a quote on that,” Valentine said smiling. “But it is a very insightful question to ask.”
Valentine doesn’t yet have a public bill file open on his campaign finance reporting reforms. You can see his bill files here.
One Valentine is already working on is an independent ethics commission for the executive branch of government – which comes in the light of the problems faced by our new Attorney General John Swallow.