Salt Palace general manager Cliff Rippetoe says palace officials will review the current policy of granting rental waivers to political parties to see if the discounts should continue.
On Tuesday, Salt Lake County Democratic Party chairman Joe Hatch complained that Salt Lake County Republicans were given a rental waiver worth $2,600 when they used the palace last Saturday for their nominating convention.Rippetoe said Tuesday afternoon that, yes, the county Republicans got the waiver. And the Democrats could get it also, he added.
Hatch confirmed that Tuesday morning but said Salt Lake County Democrats didn't believe taxpayers (which own the Salt Palace) should be subsidizing political parties.
This Saturday the Democratic county convention will pay the extra $2,600 as a matter of law and principle, says Hatch.
Rippetoe said the Salt Palace Advisory Board had decided some time ago that all "non-profit" groups could get the discount. "Certainly, political parties are non-profit," said Rippetoe.
Hatch, an attorney, said political parties are specifically denied 501C3 non-profit status under the tax code and should't get the exemption. It's illegal, he said.
Rippetoe said Salt Palace officials will look at the wording of non-profit in their rules and decide if political parties should get the discount.
He added that palace officials will also review standards on passing out literature in and around the convention center.
During Saturday's GOP county convention, Republican Assembly members Tom Draschil and Ruth Robinson were arrested by city police for trespassing after they refused to stop passing out conservative GOP literature inside the Salt Palace.
The Republican Assembly, a conservative group of Republicans, didn't buy a $300 booth at the GOP convention, county Republican officials said, and so couldn't pass out literature. Draschil and Robinson got in an argument with police over their First Amendment rights of free speech and were arrested. City attorneys are now deciding if they should be charged with Class B misdemeanors or let the matter drop.
Rippetoe said he regrets the problem on Saturday. "We want people to have their free speech rights." But clients of the Salt Palace have rights, too, he said.
Would it be right to let someone who didn't want to pay a fee to exhibit at a home show, for example, stand outside exhibit hall doors, but still inside the facility, and pass out literature to the customers going into and out of the show? Rippetoe asked.
"We want people to be able to pass out literature, and we're considering rules that would allow them to do so right outside the main doors" that face West Temple, Rippetoe said.