Corruption Risk Report Card
Rank among 50 states: 36th

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The story behind the score

Utah has tightened its gift ban and campaign finance laws, but has no ethics commission, weak asset disclosure laws, and no requirement for lobbyists to report their compensation. Read more from SII State Reporter John Daley.

Latest state news for Utah

SANTA FE — On February 20, New Mexico’s House Energy and Natural Resources Committee gathered for one of its regular meetings in a drab room here at the capitol, a circular building known as the Roundhouse. On the agenda: a bill that would hike fees and penalties for energy companies drilling wells in the state.

The votes fell along party lines, with five Republicans lining up against the bill and the committee's Democratic majority voting to send the legislation to the House floor. The Republicans argued the bill would stifle business and cost jobs, and for one lawmaker, the issue hit particularly close to home. Rep. James Strickler spends most of the year running his own small oil and gas production company, JMJ Land & Minerals Co. The bill would directly affect his profits.

By Dixie Huefner, Utahns for Ethical Government

The Utah Legislature currently has an ethical code of conduct that is so vague and general as to be unenforceable, as acknowledged by the Legislature’s own House Ethics Committee. For several years, the media has reported the inadequacy of the Legislature’s ethical code and the support of citizens for an Independent Ethics Commission—to no avail.

Utahns for Ethical Government, a nonpartisan citizen group, drafted an ethics initiative with hopes of getting the issue before Utah’s registered voters. The initiative calls for an independent ethics commission to investigate complaints of legislative misconduct and recommend sanctions. The legislature would retain final authority on discipline of its members, as the Utah Constitution requires.

Utahns for Ethical Government (UEG) was formed by former Republican state legislators, Democratic community activists, and independent good-government folks. The people behind UEG were alarmed by what they perceived as a decline in the ethical standards, transparency, and accountability of the Utah Legislature.

State integrity news for Utah, from the Salt Lake Tribune:

The group calling itself Utahns for Ethical Government has been fighting the Lieutenant Governor’s Office since 2010 over the ethics initiative, which seeks to establish an independent ethics commission in Utah. UEG officials say the initiative qualifies for the ballot if the group had a calendar year from the time it began collecting signatures, and as long as some petition signatures collected online are counted.

"If there is a question, it should be read liberally in a way that furthers the citizens’ right — their constitutional right — to petition their government for redress," UEG attorney Alan Smith said.

Read the rest of the story at the Salt Lake Tribune.

State integrity news for Utah, from the Salt Lake Tribune:

The results are in, and — this should be a no-brainer for any Utah politician running for public office this year— Utahns want government transparency to be a campaign priority. Utah needs elected officials and residents to fill the open-government leadership gap.

A new report released by State Integrity Investigation, a collaboration of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International, shows that Utah overall earned a "D" on transparency.

Read the rest of the story at the Salt Lake Tribune.

State integrity news for Utah, from the Deseret News:

Polls overwhelmingly have shown Utahns want ethics reform. In 2009, Gov. Jon Huntsman appointed a commission to find out why the public lacks confidence in its state political institutions. In addition a citizens group, Utahns for Ethical Government, or UEG, circulated a petition calling for ethics reform, including limiting and full disclosure regarding campaign contributions.

However, after stonewalling citizens' complaints, the Legislature established their own commission that only gave the appearance of ethics reform.

Read the rest of the story at the Deseret News.

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