With Gov. Norm Bangerter's announcement last week that he won't seek re-election in 1992, speculation arises over what he'll do with his own personal political action committee funds - which at times have reached a quarter of a million dollars.
Legally, Bangerter could keep the money - which is held in the Governor's Ball Committee PAC and overseen by trusted friends and aides. "He could take it, the only legal requirement being he'd have to pay tax on the income," said Lt. Gov. Val Oveson, a certified public accountant and treasurer to the governor's PAC.But the governor will take none of the money personally, said Bud Scruggs, Bangerter's chief of staff. Bangerter, who became a millionaire through his homebuilding companies before winning the governor's seat, plans to return to his construction business.
"He's never used it personally and he won't. We draw on the account for entertaining expenses incurred by the governor but not billed to the state, for travel expenses we don't bill the state, for political expenses and various other items," said Oveson. For example, Gov. and Mrs. Bangerter will spend between $7,000 and $8,000 from the PAC this Christmas sending out holiday greeting cards, Oveson said.
Even after those normal expenses are paid, Oveson guesses that following the 1991 and 1992 balls, which are traditionally held in April each year, Bangerter's PAC could have $100,000 or more in surplus.
Scruggs said Bangerter now plans to dole most of that money out to 1992 GOP candidates, especially the gubernatorial Republican nominee. Some might be used for office expenses after he leaves the Capitol.
"There will be a lot of mouths watering over that amount," said Oveson, who himself is considering running for governor in 1992. "I'm an interested party (to that surplus). No deal has been made between me and the governor, we haven't even talked about it."
Bangerter spent $1 million during his 1984 and 1988 campaigns, aides said. If the 1992 GOP gubernatorial candidate spends about the same, and Bangerter ends up giving him or her $100,000, that would be 10 percent of the whole campaign's contributions and a significant shot in the financial arm.
In the past, the Governor's Balls have been financial successes. The 1990 Ball was so crowded that tables were placed in hallways in the Little America Hotel and the event sold out weeks in advance.
Over the past two years, the Ball PAC has raised $495,182 for Bangerter. Over the same period he spent $318,665, leaving a balance of $179,949 as of September. Since then more contributions have come in, and Bangerter has incurred some non-state refunded expenses. The latest balance in the PAC is $166,093, records show.
Bangerter gave the State Republican Party $20,000 this year and gave the Bangerter/Oveson campaign committee $18,000. Articles of incorporation for the PAC forbid giving to federal candidates, although the governor usually gives small sums to legislative and other GOP candidates in the state.
"We anticipate that entertainment expenses - not billed to the state - will increase over the next two years as the governor hosts some goodbye events," said Scruggs. "In addition, he plans to use some of the ball money to pay for a secretary after he leaves office, maybe for a year or so - those kind of out-of-office expenses - and to pay for expenses of putting his gubernatorial papers together. The rest, he'll give to Republican candidates in 1992."
In fact, one reason Bangerter decided to announce so early that he wasn't running in 1992 is because fund-raising for the 1991 Ball has begun. "People naturally ask (when buying tickets to the ball) if he's running again, what's the money going for. He didn't want to answer he didn't know if he was running again when in fact he did know," Scruggs said.