To be safe, incumbents running for office should report their finances dating back to their last report in 1984, an assistant attorney general's opinion says.

But the informal opinion, issued early Monday, said the law could be clearer on how much candidates should disclose.Candidates for statewide office were to file their first disclosure statements with the lieutenant governor's office Monday.

Officials in Gov. Norm Bangerter's office said they would abide by the attorney general's opinion and disclose everything back to the last report on Dec. 10, 1984. The informal opinion, however, is non-binding.

The governor has raised $656,000 since 1984 and spent $583,700. His opponent, Democrat Ted Wilson, has raised $400,844 and spent $384,558.

The lieutenant governor asked for the opinion because of questions from a few candidates, including the governor, said Dave Hansen, deputy lieutenant governor.

"Common sense would tell you to report everything," he said.

Hansen said the question is especially pertinent in the case of the governor, who holds a yearly "Governor's Ball" to raise money.

The ball, a gala dinner/dance, raises between $75,000 and $100,000. Officials in Bangerter's campaign said about 90 percent of the money is used for unofficial, non-reimbursable expenses associated with the governor's office, such as air fare for first lady Colleen Bangerter to travel with the governor, gifts for visiting dignitaries and other items.

In the opinion, Assistant Attorney General Ralph Finlayson said a good argument could be made that the law does not require incumbents to report finances from anything other than the current campaign.