Running for the Utah Legislature can be expensive - for the candidate himself, for his family and friends or for the special interests who want him in office.
Utah has no law or rule governing how legislative candidates can raise or spend their money. They can collect any amount from any individual or group, and spend the money on anything they please, including themselves. The candidates also don't report what money they receive or spent until 30 days after their election.Here are some financial highlights of legislative races, gleaned from their single campaign finance reports:
- In putting together the most expensive legislative race - $32,051 - Democratic Senate candidate Robert Steiner and his family, owners of Steiner Corp., donated about $20,000 to the campaign. Steiner, a company vice president, won.
- Other wealthy candidates also gave to their own campaigns. GOP Senate candidate Ronald Okey, a partner in a well-heeled Salt Lake law firm, donated $11,000 to his campaign, raising $11,633 and spending $22,989. GOP Senate candidate Delpha Baird, wife of architect Steven Baird, spent $16,216 on her race, donating $4,600 to her own campaign. Both Okey and Baird won.
- Democratic House candidate Drew Daniels raised and spent $11,870 but had only a single, $20 contribution from a named constituent. The rest of his funds came from PACs, businesses or the personal campaign funds of Democratic House leaders, resulting in what appears to be the most one-sided campaign funding this year. Daniels received $8,600 - 73 percent of his money - from the Utah Education Association and affiliated teacher PACs. Daniels was beaten by incumbent Rep. Bill Wright, R-Elberta.
- Republican Sen. Richard Tempest and Rep. Conrad Maxfield, both R-Salt Lake, refused all campaign contributions, spending either no money on their races or only their own money. Tempest even returned $2,000 given to him by the Senate Republican Committee, the official GOP fund-raising PAC of the Senate. Both men lost.
- Senate President Arnold Christensen agreed to give GOP Sens. Lorin Pace and Haven Barlow, who both had serious Republican challengers, money from the Republican Senate Committee before their intraparty primary elections. Usually, party leaders don't take sides, especially giving money, before a primary race. Barlow got $3,000 and Pace $2,000 before the Sept. 11 GOP primary. Barlow won; Pace lost his primary race against Delpha Baird.
Incumbent senators "helped raise that campaign fund," said Barlow, "so we should get some of the funds when we need them, and we needed them in our primary races."
- GOP House candidate Marianne Stoddard raised $26,319 in her race against Rep. Frank Pignanelli, D-Salt Lake, making hers one of the most expensive House races this year. Utah legislative races usually draw exclusively from in-state sources. But Stoddard raised $12,000 from out-of-state sources, PACs and individuals, the largest out-of-state sum of any legislative contest. U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch helped her fund-raising effort, tapping some financial sources he's used in his multimillion-dollar races.
"Frank always runs expensive campaigns. We had to compete, although I think all this required fund raising keeps some good people from seeking office. I think there should be some kind of spending cap," Stoddard said. She lost her race.
-Democratic Rep. Blaze Wharton had little opposition in his central city district. He won easily, raising $6,175. It's where Wharton spent his money that's different, for in a roundabout way Wharton paid himself $4,000 from his legislative campaign fund to be Salt Lake County Commission candidate Randy Horiuchi's campaign manager.
Wharton, who until June was the Salt Lake County Democratic Committee's executive director, gave the county Democratic Party $3,940 from his legislative campaign fund. The county party, in turn, gave Horiuchi's campaign $5,140. And Horuichi paid Wharton $7,488 in "consulting fees and reimbursements," financial reports show.
Horiuchi first employed Wharton as state Democratic Party executive director for the four years that Horiuchi ran the party as state chairman from 1985 to 1989. Now Wharton will be with Horiuchi again, beginning in January when the newly elected Commissioner Horiuchi makes Wharton his administrative assistant.