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No secret funds, legislator urges

Let the sun shine in. Let it light every dollar of every secret fund held by state, county, city, school district and special district elected officials.

So says Sen. Eddie Mayne, D-West Valley.Mayne has a hunch that Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini isn't the only elected official in the state to have squirreled away monies in a non-campaign fund.

His bill, now before the Legislature, would require all elected officials at every level of government to file a yearly report detailing those funds.

Mayne can't, or won't, give any names. "Let's just say (the funds) may be out there, maybe for some people whose names are often mentioned for higher (elective) office."

Mayne introduced his measure last session but late. It passed the Senate but wasn't addressed by the House.

Now, without the Corradini scandal in the headlines, is a good time to reconsider the bill, Mayne says.

There's clearly a big loophole in the law - maybe a $230,000 loophole. State law now requires that campaign funds be accounted for and made public. But it says nothing about elected officials starting "private accounts" which could be used for anything except running a campaign.

Corradini acknowledged months ago - but after her 1995 re-election - that she had solicited, and accepted, more than $230,000 from friends and associates in the early 1990s. The money was used to pay off a settlement she reached concerning her involvement in the bankrupt Bonneville Pacific. She asked friends and associates for the money to avoid declaring bankruptcy herself and perhaps losing her home.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Neal Gunnarson investigated the affair and decided Corradini had broken no law. That led to changes in Salt Lake City ordinances and several bills brought before the Legislature, so similar situations couldn't happen again.

Mayne says if his bill had been law, Corradini would have had to declare publicly her secret fund, detail who gave the money and when and how she spent it and when.

The Deseret News couldn't find any hint of secret funds today.

"I have no such fund and I don't know of any," said House Minority Leader Dave Jones, D-Salt Lake. Jones has already announced that he'll run for Salt Lake mayor next year.

Following city ordinances, Jones said he has "to file my first Salt Lake City campaign finance report later this month. That is the only money I've raised," he said.

He supports Mayne's bill.

House Speaker Mel Brown, R-Union, who is mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate in the future, says he has no secret funds, either, and knows of none.

"I support any kind of disclosure," Brown said. "I don't know why (Mayne's bill) didn't get a hearing last year (in the House). But I'd be pleased to look at (the bill) this year."

Salt Lake County Commissioner Randy Horiuchi, a longtime political activist in the state, said he has no such fund, doesn't know of one.

Mayne said he'd heard of "exploratory" funds being set up by and for would-be candidates, although he declined to mention any names.