The state Government Operations interim committee will be taking a look at a bi-partisan proposal Wednesday to put a limit on campaign contributions.
Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber, and Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake, are spearheading the proposal. It would limit contributions to statewide offices like the Governor or Attorney General to $10 thousand dollars per donor. It would also confine contributions to legislative offices and state school board races to $5 thousand dollars per donor. Powell says he doesn’t think contributions are innately bad, but they do often create the wrong perception.
“When they’re giving by people who have business before the legislature or other governmental bodies, usually is that there must be some sort of improper activity going on," he says. "And whether that is the case or not it’s the public perception that I find particularly damaging.”
Powell also defends his proposal against those who argue campaign contribution limits hinder free speech.
“I think, and I think the courts back me up on this, that there is a difference between those sorts of independent expenditures and the types of direct campaign contributions that go to candidates," he says. "And this bill would only address those direct campaign contributions.”
Powell previously sponsored a similar bill in the 2013 legislative session that the rules committee failed to approve. Utah is one of four states that don’t have some kind of limit on campaign contributions.