FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 8, 2018
CONTACT: Katie Matheson | Alliance for a Better Utah
BETTER UTAH CALLS ON GOVERNOR TO VETO ETHICS AMENDMENTS
Salt Lake City, UT – With only minutes left in the 2018 General Session, lawmakers passed two pieces of legislation that could potentially have drastic consequences for the process by which elected officials are held accountable to ethical standards.
S.B. 216, “Ethics Amendments,” and S.J.R. 15, “Joint Rules Resolution Regarding Legislative Ethics,” both make reforms to the Independent Ethics Commissions for elected officials in the executive and legislative branches, as well as those for political subdivisions. Sen. Curt Bramble, the sponsor for both bills, sought to improve the commissions’ efficiency as well as shield them from being used as political weapons.
Chase Thomas, policy and advocacy counsel with Alliance for a Better Utah, issued the following statement:
“While we support the aim of this legislation to protect elected officials from political attacks in these investigatory forums, shielding them from any form of hearsay could potentially protect officials from the very corruption complaints these commissions are meant to investigate. Corruption does not usually take place out in the sun or on official government records. It often occurs without witnesses — behind-the-scenes. But if by chance, someone hears about these acts, or uncovers the misdeed, they would them be barred from reporting that ethical violation because they did not directly observe the act. Because this ‘personal knowledge’ standard completely defeats the purpose of even having ethics commissions, we call on Governor Herbert to do what the Legislature would not—act against what would be in his own self-interest and veto these bills.”
Alliance for a Better Utah is a good government advocacy and watchdog organization based in Salt Lake City. The organization works to improve the lives of all Utahns by ensuring balance, transparency, and accountability in Utah politics, policy, and government. More information at www.betterutah.org.