Cooke Wants Ethics Reform

Jun 19, 2012

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Peter Cooke says he’ll limit individual contributions to his campaign, if Governor Gary Herbert will join him. Cooke and his running mate Vince Ramptom stood with Utahn’s for Ethical Government Tuesday at the State Capitol to propose a series of ethics reforms, including an overhaul of Utah’s campaign finance laws.

Cooke says declining voter participation in Utah is a testament to a lack of confidence in state government.

“We have to change it. And if that means that we begin our campaigns in July under new regulations and the governor does the same. That challenge is out and I’m ready to accept it,” Cooke says.

Utah’s campaign finance laws are some of the weakest in the nation, he says. In particular, the state’s lobbying regulations and laws governing ethics of public officials.

“Government should not be being run by those who can get easy access by political contributions," Cooke says. "I wish you could start a campaign out and give me x amount of money and give the incumbent x amount of money and say, go to it.”

Cooke wants to increase the time legislators are banned from working as lobbyists after leaving office from one year  to two years. He also would like to do away with a provision that allows legislative ethics committees to decide whether ethics complaints are valid, meaning complaints won’t reach the ethics commission if lawmakers block them.