The Salt Lake City Council in a split vote gave Mayor Rocky Anderson permission to begin raising funds for his start-up nonprofit organization before his term in office ends.
Council members Eric Jergensen, Jill Remington Love, Soren Simonsen and Van Turner voted Tuesday night to approve Anderson's request for a waiver of the ordinance that prohibits city public servants from seeking or receiving gifts for matters other than official city business.
The other three members of the council Dave Buhler, Carlton Christensen and Nancy Saxton voted against the resolution of approval.
Prior to the vote, Saxton argued that allowing Anderson to begin raising funds for an outside entity while still serving as mayor would be "inconsistent" with city ordinance and that it "starts to blur the lines" of ethical standards of the office.
If the roles had been reversed, Saxton said, and she had been asking the mayor to allow her to raise funds for an outside organization, "I have no question in my mind that his answer would be no."
"Why would we allow this to take place for a mayor who would not allow this for at least one or two members of the council?" she asked her fellow council members.
The vote at the City Council meeting Tuesday passed by the same 4-3 count as the straw poll conducted during a council work session last week, when Anderson answered council members' questions about his plans.
Anderson, who was not in attendance for the vote, plans to start a nonprofit organization for the education and advocacy of human rights and climate-change issues, expected to be called HumanKind Education Fund Inc.
In a letter to the City Council dated Oct. 30, Anderson said he anticipates being on the organization's board, serving as an officer and working for it as a full-time, paid employee. The mayor plans to begin work with the group immediately after he leaves office Jan. 7.
Anderson has said he will seek contributions only from those who have no current business dealings with the city and are not likely to do so in the future. He also said he will not use his title and office, city staff or city resources to solicit any funding for HumanKind.
Under city code, the waiver can be granted by the council if it meets three requirements: a gift was not given to influence official action; there is no "substantial likelihood" that the gift will influence official action; and the granting of the waiver "will not be detrimental to the interests of the city."Jergensen said the mayor's request meets that criteria. Anderson even has offered to go a step further by submitting to the council names of all those from whom he receives funding until he leaves office.