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House passes two campaign reform bills

Published: Thursday, March 6 2014 7:34 p.m. MST

The House passed two bills Thursday aimed at campaign reform in response to the scandal surrounding former Utah Attorney General John Swallow. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) The House passed two bills Thursday aimed at campaign reform in response to the scandal surrounding former Utah Attorney General John Swallow. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The House passed two bills Thursday aimed at campaign reform in response to the scandal surrounding former Utah Attorney General John Swallow.

Both HB394 and HB390 deal with transparency and accountability for candidates and officeholders.

"We have diligently tried to craft legislation that tries to get at some of the more open or perhaps egregious things that could be done without trying to just put so many more rules that we wouldn’t be able to function," said HB394 sponsor Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, who led the special committee that investigated Swallow.

HB394 would require candidates and individuals in office to disclose more information on campaign finance reports. The bill would require candidates to list the actual contributor or expense, not just PayPal, Visa or MasterCard.

HB390 would make base crimes part of Utah's organized crime statute if they are committed within the context of a legislative procedure, according to bill sponsor Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City.

Chavez-Houck said the bill "focuses on criminalizing a pattern of behavior." It could become a felony if an individual three times commits base crimes, such as bribery in a legislative investigation or audit, witness tampering or alteration of government records.

She said the bills are a result of the special investigative committee's promise to recommend statutory changes to prevent future problems.

HB394 passed 70-0 and HB390 passed 68-1. Both bills will now head to the Senate.

— Madeleine Brown

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