To the editor:
Utah law prohibits newspapers from accepting direct or indirect payment (except paid advertisements labeled as such) for publishing in its reading columns any matter which tends to defeat any measure before the people for a vote at an election.Utah code 20-14-24: "No publisher of a newspaper . . . shall insert in its reading columns any paid matter which . . . tends to . . . defeat . . . any measure before the people unless it is stated therein that it is a paid advertisement."
Utah code 20-14-27: "No owner, publisher, editor, reporter . . . of any newspaper . . . shall receive or accept any payment . . . directly or indirectly for influencing or attempting to influence by means of any printed matter in such newspaper and voting at any election . . . through any means whatsoever . . . except through paid advertisement. . ."
Three Utah newspapers have made substantial financial contribution to the opponents of the tax initiatives to be voted on in the next general election. These newspapers tend to receive substantial advertising revenue from the $200,000 or more that will be spent on media advertising. A position against the tax initiatives by these newspapers, together with monetary support and extensive news articles on these issues smacks of the sort of thing forbidden by Utah statute.
These publications should remove the cloud and refuse to take any paid advertisements on these issues. Such a policy would eliminate any implication that they are receiving payment "directly or indirectly" for their support. It would also restore some credibility to their news articles on the tax initiatives.
Conrad G. Maxfield
Salt Lake City
Editor's note: Legal counsel has advised the Deseret News that it would not violate any law by accepting paid advertising from opponents of the tax limitation initiatives.