A Return of Pay-to-Play?

Has Reyes already forgotten the follies of his predecessors?

One would think that with the trial of John Swallow having concluded so recently, his errors would still be fresh in everyone’s minds. Apparently not so for current Attorney General Sean Reyes. The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported that there have been some shady donations showing up on Reyes’ campaign finance report. These contributions are significant because of the pervasive rumors that Reyes is being considered by the Trump Administration to be the head of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

We all know that politicians are constantly living in campaign-mode these days. However, the timing and nature of these new contributions are especially suspect. Only months after he was re-elected, donations began pouring into Reyes’ campaign account from individuals and corporations across the country. Since the beginning of this year, Reyes has received over $100,000 in donations towards an election that doesn’t happen for another four years!

There is one common thread that is weaved through these donations — almost all of them come from corporations that are regulated by the FTC or law firms that represent organizations in front of the FTC. The Tribune mentioned many of the the big players on this list and the dealings they have had with the FTC in the past.

However, most corporations are regulated one way or another by the FTC. Any money being accepted from corporations or law firms that have business with the FTC could be seen as attempts to influence future decisions by Reyes if he does become chairman of the FTC. And Reyes can say all he wants that these donations will not influence what he does, but that is not the point. The importance lies with the perception this gives to average citizens. We need to be able to trust that our public servants are working for the public, not wealthy individuals or corporations. This is why we hold elected officials to high standards of ethics, and why Sean Reyes should do the ethical thing and reject these recent contributions to his campaign.

After learning about these reports, Alliance for a Better Utah sent a letter to the Attorney General asking him to clarify his campaign’s standards and procedures for accepting contributions from individuals or businesses that could potentially present conflicts of interest. We said that it was in the public’s best interest that he notify his constituents on whether he will be accepting or rejecting these contributions.

 

If Reyes is accepting donations that could potentially influence his decisions as chairman of the FTC, how do we know that the donations he has received in the past are not influencing his decisions as Attorney General? Reyes needs to be clear and direct with his constituents — either return the donations that could be perceived as influencing his future decisions, or let the public know that he is no longer aiming to be chairman of the FTC. This is what his constituents deserve.

Mr. Attorney General, we are anxiously awaiting your answer.

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