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West Valley City Journal

Council asks city staff for report on campaign disclosures

Dec 13, 2021 03:18PM ● By Travis Barton

Councilmembers are wondering whether a penalty should be applied if a candidate misses the date to file its campaign finance statement. (File photo City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

Potential candidates for office could face punishment, including being not allowed to run. 

The possibility comes about after a recent discussion amongst the West Valley City Council determining possible punishment for a candidate failing to file their campaign finance disclosures on time. 

Councilman Steve Buhler said he was concerned there was no penalty for candidates who don’t file their disclosure and then run for office two years later. 

“If it’s required by state law and it’s not filed then there ought to be a time period when that candidate cannot run,” Buhler said during the meeting, suggesting five years as an option so they would miss two election cycles. 

The question came forward after it was brought up in the city’s strategic planning meeting in February earlier this year, and officials decided to wait to address it until after the elections. 

Councilman Jake Fitisemanu agreed some penalty should exist. 

“I like an ineligibility type thing more so than penalizing somebody financially,” he said. 

The filing Buhler refers to is the final one that takes place after the general election. Candidates must file them for the primary election that takes place over the summer. 

City Recorder Nichole Camac said for municipal campaigns “there’s really no repercussions for that last campaign finance statement as it is.” 

Outgoing Mayor Ron Bigelow cautioned this could be a sensitive subject and to approach it slowly and thoroughly to hopefully avoid unintended consequences. 

“If not done properly, could cause a lot of problems,” he said. 

Fitisemanu clarified they don’t want to inhibit people from running for office. 

“We definitely don’t want to dissuade or create any kind of an atmosphere that feels like we’re dissuading anyone to run or that there’s a penalty to an inadvertent mistake,” he said. “But we ask for it, it’s on the books. How do we enforce that? We also don’t want a system that allows people to skirt certain rules or compliance with these things either.” 

Fitisemanu also wanted further information on the finer details of filing. He used the example of buying pizzas for campaign volunteers, would it be placed specifically as pizza for volunteers or, as others have suggested, grouping it under “campaign supplies.” 

“I don’t know what the clarity is on that,” he said, noting that detail would be useful “so we don’t have to question where money comes from or how it’s being spent.”