Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, pitched a bill to a committee Tuesday requiring corporations and nonprofits to make their political donors public record and received near unanimous support from the House Government Operations Committee, except from Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, who was the only dissenting vote.
House Bill 43 would address what Hughes considered a long-outstanding inconsistency in Utah’s election laws. While all donors to political candidates, political action committees and political issues committees are identified in public record, people who donate to politically active corporations or nonprofits, however, are not identified. Hughes’ bill would require corporations and nonprofits that make $750 or more in political expenditures in a year to file a financial-disclosure form with the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office and to notify people who donate to such corporations and nonprofits that they may be identified in public records for their donation.
“When you talk about PACs or PICs or individual candidates’ contributions, we need to know where the money comes from,” Hughes said, arguing that the same should apply to nonprofits and corporations, adding “If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander.”
The bill drew ire from Alan Dickerson, the legal director of the nonpartisan nonprofit Center for Competitive Politics in Washington, D.C., who boasted of his organization as “being among the groups that created the Super PAC.” Dickerson thought the language was too broad and could fail constitutional muster in trying to make corporations into PACs. Hughes countered that legislative counsel did not agree there was a constitutional concern.
The only other objection was from Democrat Chavez-Houck, who stated her conflict as being on the boards of various nonprofits before explaining her nay vote.
“I’m not comfortable with moving this forward because of concerns with issues of free speech,” Chavez-Houck said.