Utah Legislature: Paying Themselves with Campaign Funds

As per usual, the members of the Utah Legislature are doing their best to ensure that they are making money of their civil “service.” As if politics is really about service to “we the people.” At any rate, it seems as though members of the Utah Legislature enjoy using campaign accounts to take care of personal expenses, according to the Deseret Morning News:

A Deseret Morning News analysis earlier this year showed that on average in 2007, legislators used $1 in every $3 spent from their campaign accounts for items that could be construed as for personal use, including spending to get their cars repaired, buy clothes for themselves and their spouses and pay for event tickets.

Naturally, efforts to change this are hitting snags. The bill proposes that campaign funds be used for political and *gasp* campaign-related items only. It also limits what money in an account can be used for when an officeholder leaves (legislators and governors have been known to pay themselves millions upon leaving office).

While most are okay with limiting what can be done after someone leaves office, there is opposition to limiting what can be done while in office. Just at efforts at disclosing what they do with the money entrusted to them and at efforts to limit “gifts” from lobbyists meet with fierce opposition, the Utah Legislature has a problem with this method of accountability as well.

While I can sympathize somewhat with paying oneself for “lost wages,” it is still somewhat disconcerting. After all, being in the state legislature is supposed to be a position of service. Perhaps a system of “reasonable compensation” can be arranged for those with fewer means. Maybe something on the order of what actual citizens get in return for their service as jurors.

Tags: civil service, Utah Legislature, Utah politics, lobbyists Utah,
campaign funds

0 thoughts on “Utah Legislature: Paying Themselves with Campaign Funds”

  1. Interesting take on Utah legislators. I would have these same concerns if my father wasn’t a legislator. Just so you know he takes about two months out of his personal life each year to basically move to Salt Lake and work tirelessly for the people he represents. He enjoys every minute of it, but he makes very little, all the while trying to stay on top of his full time job at home. If our politicians were not able to get reimbursed for the campaign funds they accrue , you would only see the very wealthy able to represent us. There would be no chance for school teachers, farmers , and other average paid individuals because they could not afford to run. Civil service sounds great but realistically you still have to pay for food, lodging, and other expenses while you’re in session and other times through out the year.
    I hope that all makes sense. Thanks for letting me share my point of view!

  2. Thanks for your insight, Anon!

    Please note that I do have sympathy for lost wages. It’s mentioned in the post. I feel that those with fewer means should receive some sort of compensation, and to receive it from campaign funds is acceptable.

    However, paying for trips and giving oneself a “bonus” should not be an acceptable use of such funds. And certainly not draining a campaign account after leaving office.

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