By its 64-6 vote, the Utah House of Representatives clearly indicated this week that it understands the need for political candidates - including legislators themselves - to report all campaign contributions.
Utah for years has had a campaign disclosure law requiring candidates for top state jobs such as governor, lieutenant governor, auditor, and treasurer, to report several times before the general election who gave them money and where they spent it.But the law covers donations only from the time a candidate officially filed for office and it does not cover legislators.
That loophole would be closed and the reported requirements expanded by the measure passed this week by the House. Under that bill, all candidates for statewide office would have to report all contributions and expenses, even those that occurred before officially filing for office.
As political races become more expensive, candidates are beginning to raise money far earlier - sometimes as much as a year before officially filing for office.
The House bill also would extend full financial disclosure to legislators, a much-needed step since even legislative campaigns have started to involve substantial sums of money.
A major reason for financial reporting is not that there are questions of dishonesty or misuse of funds, but that voters need to know who is backing certain candidates and to what extent. Voters need this information in order to spot conflicts of interest and potential vote-buying. Such contributions could become campaign issues themselves, but that's no excuse for not letting the public know.
In an interesting additional step, candidates would have to report how they used any leftover campaign funds after they were elected.
The legislation simply brings all campaign contributions into the open instead of just some of them. That's a long-overdue step and the bill ought to be approved just as overwhelmingly in the Senate as it was in the House.