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OVERSON OFFERS CHANGES ON DISCLOSURE ORDINANCE

SHARE OVERSON OFFERS CHANGES ON DISCLOSURE ORDINANCE

A move to change the county's campaign finance disclosure ordinance took a twist Monday when Commissioner Brent Overson proposed his own changes to the law.

Overson says his version is tougher than a revamped ordinance sought by Commissioner Jim Bradley. But the real effect of Overson's last-minute proposal may be to derail action on the county's campaign finance disclosure ordinance this year, while Bradley is still in office.And that, representatives of two public-interest groups say, may mean the reforms get shelved for good. Action on the ordinance was scheduled for Wednesday's commission meeting, but it was questionable that the commission would be able to review it adequately before then.

Overson introduced a "substitute" ordinance Monday as commission staff met to, among other things, discuss the ordinance Bradley wanted the commission to vote on Wednesday.

Overson said his ordinance incorporates most of the changes Bradley sought.

Most important, it requires a report to be filed any time a person or political action committee receives $250, not just when that amount is spent.

"What you want to do is find out who is collecting and who is spending," Overson said.

David Muir, Overson's administrative assistant, said the ordinance drafted for Bradley was a "knee-jerk reaction to a perceived problem. Theirs has a lot of incongruities and things out of place."

"We left as much of the verbiage as they wanted in ours, but what we did is tried to condense, clarify and simplify and maintain congruity with state law," Muir said.

But representatives of two public interest groups say Overson's ordinance fails to address items they feel are key.

It allows political action committees to file disclosure forms with the state election office, rather than the county clerk.

"It is very difficult for citizens who are looking for that information (to have to check with the state)," said Claire Geddes, of United We Stand. "It just seems like it makes sense to have it there at the county if it's a county candidate they're giving to."

Overson's ordinance also is unclear about whether disclosure forms have to be filed in nonelection years. It states only that the first disclosure forms must be filed 14 days before a primary election and 28 days after the election.

"In off election years we wanted to make sure they were required to file," Geddes said.

It also drops a filing requirement for unopposed candidates.

Deputy County Attorney Gavin Anderson had not reviewed Over-son's ordinance yet when contacted by the Deseret News Tuesday morning.

Bradley said in Monday's meeting he would rather have a sound ordinance than rush something through just so he could vote on it before he leaves office.

"I want a good piece of legislation," Bradley said. "If it's not ready by Wednesday, I'm fine.

"My motive is simple. If people are going to donate to political candidates or issues, we ought to know who they are."

Until Monday, Bradley was leading the change to change the county's ordinance to close a loophole that allows individuals who make contributions to political action committees to remain unidentified.

Two events prompted Bradley to seek changes in the county's campaign finance disclosure ordinance. According to Bradley, almost half of the campaign funds given to Mary Callaghan, the Republican who unseated Bradley in November, came from political action committees.

That left no trail of the individuals behind Callaghan, Bradley said.

The changes also took aim at the Committee for Responsible Government, a private political action committee formed by Overson to fund other Republican candidates.

The county attorney's staff rewrote the ordinance to require political action committees to register with the county, to disclose names of individuals who give them sums of $250 or more and how that money is spent.

"It doesn't limit the amount raised or that you can spend, it simply requires you to disclose where the money came from," Brad-ley said. "I don't see that as onerous. I see it as something everybody can embrace."