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Hopefuls face new financial rules

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Candidates for political office in Salt Lake County now have more dates on which they must report their campaign finances.

The Salt Lake County Council this week unanimously approved a new reporting schedule with five dates all candidates are required to meet:

The first report will be due a week before the primary, held the final Tuesday of June, regardless of whether the candidate is in a primary race. Previously, only candidates with primary opponents were required to file.

Candidates will have to file the second report 30 days after the primary election.

The third report will be due Sept. 15, which is new for county races but already required in state races.

The fourth report will be due a week before the general election.

A final report will be due 30 days after the general election.

Along with approving the dates for campaign finance reports, the County Council continued to wage a primarily partisan battle about changes to the campaign finance laws. For the second time in two months, the council refused 5-3 to require that donors be identified by their occupation or employer.

Republicans who opposed the requirement said that while good in theory, the requirement would not open voters' eyes about a candidate's possible conflicts. It would, however, be burdensome on a candidate and scare people away from donating.

"It's impossible to get to every little nuance of influence and have a streamlined process, which is what we are really trying to achieve," Councilman Russell Skousen said.

Councilman Joe Hatch said that identifying occupations or employers would help voters determine if there is a pattern, which could help them better understand their political leanings.

"We know there are certain industries . . . where if people give money individually, all of it won't be noticed," he said. "But if there's a pattern, it would be noticed" if employers or occupations were disclosed.

The council hopes to have the revised ordinance finished by the end of the month.

E-mail: jloftin@desnews.com