Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Should Utahns be feeling better about Syria now?

Published: Sunday, Sept. 15 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Webb: This is another national do-gooder effort to undo U.S. Supreme Court decisions on political contributions and free speech. Certainly, independent groups are receiving and spending millions of dollars, often distorting elections, with little accountability. But the answer is not to pile on even more regulation, which will make things worse. Candidates, parties and political organizations always figure out ways to circumvent campaign finance laws. The answer is to deregulate contributions and spending to candidates and political parties, which are far more accountable than independent groups. That would reduce the income and clout of independent groups. We should eliminate restrictions, but require complete and immediate reporting and transparency.

"Count My Vote" has raised more than $500,000. Is the effort to change the delegate/convention system on its way to success?

Pignanelli: The proposed initiative is a worthy cause, but Utah law allows opponents to derail it at little cost and effort. Supporters must have resources beyond this to counter these moves.

Webb: This effort (of which I am a part) to open up the political process to broader participation has strong support among the general public and most business and community leaders. That bodes well for its success. However, law-making via ballot measure is a long, difficult process, and it will be strongly opposed by liberal and conservative grassroots activists who have enjoyed control of the nominating process. Utah's mainstream/centrist citizens and leaders have long had an uneasy relationship with the far right and far left. This issue forces a confrontation to determine whether the mainstream or the extremes control Utah's political future.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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