Ethics Initiative on Hold | Buzz Blog

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ethics Initiative on Hold

Posted By on January 27, 2011, 1:22 PM

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Advocacy group, Utahns for Ethical Government are still waiting to hear if they’re ethics reforms will be on 2012 ballot or if they need to sue the state.---

UEG say they’re getting sick of waiting for a response from the state on whether or not the signatures they collected will be enough to get their ethics initiative on the 2012 ballot, says group founder Kim Burningham. Especially since delays could hamper their efforts for legal remedy.

“We’re frankly in a state of frustration right now,” Burningham says. While his group had produced signatures to the Lt. Governor’s Office by an August deadline, he says they were told the count would have to wait until after the elections. UEG accepted that it would take some time. The group’s website had speculated on Dec. 30, 2010 that it had “heard rumors that the completed count of our petition signature drive may be reported soon by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office.” Now still more than 5 months later and the group have not heard anything.

When that determination is made, several scenarios would present itself. “They could say, ‘you’ve got enough signatures and you will be on the ballot for 2012’” Burnigham says of his ideal outcome. “But I’m not sanguine about that happening.” The other scenarios could be that they have enough signatures but that the Lt. Governor’s Elections Office will differ on interpretation of statute and not accept them, or that they will be reported that they have insufficient signatures. In either scenario, Burningham is irked because rejection of the signatures could mean legal action, that needs to be instigated as soon as possible if they still want a shot at getting their ethics initiative on the 2012 ballot.

Especially if scenario C occurs and the group are told they failed to gather enough signatures in particular districts. Burningham says his group budgeted 15 percent more signatures than necessary to prepare for such a contingency. If it’s announced that the group fell short in a district, they would have to recount their tallies and try to discover how their signatures were counted by clerks in that county compared to others. If there’s a discrepancy Burningham says they would press legal action based on an equal protection argument.

“If there’s a very large number of signatures disqualified in a district then you’ve got ask about equal protections under the law,” Burningham says.

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