Both Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Utah Democrats raised eyebrows when the Deseret News reported Wednesday that Shurtleff's campaign had donated $2,300 to the presidential campaign of John McCain.
Democratic leaders contacted the newspaper to question whether such a donation was legal under Federal Election Commission rules. And Shurtleff called to say his campaign had never made such a donation. He said he did not know how the newspaper could have obtained and reported such information.
But the donation was included in data that the Deseret News downloaded from the lieutenant governor's Web site for campaign disclosures. It said the Shurtleff campaign had given a $2,300 donation to McCain 2008 on April 18.
After Shurtleff was told that, he said his auditor had been using the lieutenant governor's Web site to prepare a draft of his campaign report and that he had initially and incorrectly included a personal donation Shurtleff had made to McCain as a donation instead from Shurtleff's campaign.
But Shurtleff said the error had been caught and the donation removed before they saved and submitted the report as final. He guesses that the Deseret News somehow downloaded his information while it was still in draft form, even though he said the lieutenant governor's office has told him that should not be possible.
Even if the donation had come from Shurtleff's campaign fund, it appears likely to have been legal, despite the fears of Shurtleff and Democrats alike.
The Federal Elections Commission press office said federal law allows organizations such as a state candidate's campaign to donate to a presidential campaign, if they have enough in the bank from donors who themselves could have legally donated to a federal campaign.While most of Shurtleff's donations came directly from corporations that cannot legally give to federal office campaigns, he appears to have received enough from individuals and federal political action committees to have covered the McCain donation.