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CAMPAIGN-FINANCE PLAN GETS INITIAL OK

It's been months in the making, but the Salt Lake County Executive Council has approved campaign financing disclosure amendments and has passed them along to the County Commission for final approval.

The changes to the policy include requiring political-action or political-issue committees to file a statement of organization once they raise or spend more than $250.Other changes include allowing a person to make $100 in cash donations to a candidate's campaign per year: a $50 increase from the previous policy's cash limit.

Also approved was a change that gives an extra week to campaign committees, PACs, and individuals for filing preliminary statements before the primary and general election. The policy would change from seven to 14 days.

County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said the proposed policy changes would be an improvement to the election system.

"I think now we have a good, solid campaign finance ordinance," Swensen said.

The Executive Council, made up of appointed and elected county officials, did not approve a change that would have allowed campaign committees to accept anonymous donations.

Instead, the council voted to keep the standing law, which prohibits the acceptance of anonymous donations. Anonymous donations are forwarded to the county treasurer and put in the general fund.

The talk for more campaign disclosure began about eight months ago when then-Commissioner Jim Bradley began pushing for candidates to reveal where their support money comes from. When Bradley was defeated, Commissioner Brent Overson vowed to continue to push for campaign disclosure.

Claire Geddes, state director for United We Stand America, said the push for more disclosure in county elections has been time-consuming. Although she thinks elected officials should have to file campaign finance reports every year, she put a thumbs up to the new changes to the policy.

"The push is for more campaign disclosure, that is what people want," Geddes said.

Betsy Wolf, executive director of Common Cause, said the changes would improve the law. Requiring PACs to report, she said, begins to close a loophole that has existed in the county election process.