Legislative Coverage

Lawmakers Reject Contribution Caps

One state lawmaker believes big money and special interest groups are taking over the political process, but many of her colleagues don’t agree. House Bill 164, which would have limited campaign contributions, failed to advance out the legislature’s House Ethics Committee Friday. But the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck, hopes to bring it back to the table.

(KCPW News) One state lawmaker believes big money and special interest groups are taking over the political process, but many of her colleagues don’t agree. House Bill 164, which would have limited campaign contributions, failed to advance out the legislature’s House Ethics Committee Friday. But the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck, hopes to bring it back to the table.

“Limiting the amount and source of campaign contributions levels the playing field so that elections are based on the merits of the candidates and their ideas and not necessarily their fundraising abilities, and that candidates can run a competitive race even if they don’t have access to personal wealth or extensive fundraising connections,” she argued.

Utah is one of fewer than half a dozen states with no campaign contribution limits. Chavez-Houck’s legislation would have limited individual campaign contributions to $10,000 for a statewide office candidate, $5,000 for a legislative candidate and $40,000 for a political party.

“I always try to remind myself especially when we’re in the middle of a campaign, we have a lot of expenditures and we’re in trying to raise money and sometimes it’s very difficult, that sometimes the collective and accumulative effect of a lot of small contributions really does make a difference,” said Chavez-Houck. “Maybe we need to look at other ways of trying to fundraise.”

Contributions by labor groups, political action committees and corporations would also have been limited. Chavez-Houck’s bill followed the recommendations of a commission set up by former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman; however, Governor Gary Herbert has expressed opposition to contribution caps.

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