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On Capitol Hill, the fox is guarding the hen house. I believe in a system that makes legislators accountable to the people, not to themselves and each other. I believe in a government where elected officials have the integrity to behave ethically by their own volition, where they have the character to call fouls against themselves even if a system is in place to call fouls for them.
I believe in an ethics commission that is vested with real powers, and that does business in the light of day, not in the shadows of darkness. Utahns have a right not only to a strong watchdog, but a right to know how and what the watchdog is watching.
Governor Huntsman made ethics reform a priority in his administration. Governor Herbert, however, abandoned this priority. I will make an effort to finish the job Governor Huntsman began to restore Utah’s proud legacy of government. I will bear the banner of ethical government with pride, not dishonor it with illusory quick fixes, by proposing meaningful, long-lasting reforms. I will bring trust to the governor’s office.
The matters that challenge us are many, and pressing, and may seem daunting at times. But I firmly believe we can do something to change the system. I firmly believe we must.
And I firmly believe I have the leadership to bring about this change.
This is how I will work to ensure honest and transparent government perseveres in the state of Utah.
We need to close the Revolving Door in Utah politics, where legislators become lobbyists and lobbyists become legislators, once and for all. Ending the revolving door will make for a government that puts people first— period.
I will propose legislation to ban any elected official from doubling as a paid lobbyist, not just in any year they hold public office but for three years subsequent to retirement.
Indeed, a priority of mine will be to lengthen the waiting period for a state official to become a lobbyist to three years, not just one. Moreover, my legislation will eliminate the loopholes that our current laws are riddled with, and that make for shady public practices on Capitol Hill. No loopholes. No exceptions. Period.
The legislation I will propose will also set the amount that any public official can receive as a gift from a lobbyist to zero. And there will be a zero-tolerance policy in my administration regardless of whether this legislation passes. That is, if the state legislature refuses to act, I will show the people of Utah I am committed to honoring their integrity, and that I reflect their high moral standards by leading by example on ethics reform.
Profiteering simply is not the purpose of public service. Serving our citizens is.
Campaign Finance Reform
So far as campaign finance reform is concerned, I will propose legislation to limit the influence of any individual or group in campaign finance. This legislation will call for a maximum campaign donation of $2500 per campaign for individuals and $5000 for PACs or other groups. It is our duty as democratic citizens, and it will be my duty as governor, to ensure the “one man, one vote” principle perseveres.
Basic Ethics Reform
As for basic ethics reform, I will work with Utahns for Ethical Government and other citizens groups to make meaningful reforms to our system that open the door to transparency, not to close the door on accountability. Indeed, unlike Governor Herbert, I will not block efforts to make government more accountable to the people; I will encourage and support them.
Specifically, I favor the creation of an ethics commission that is equipped with the tools to address ethics problems. This committee should consist of non-politicians. It should have an even balance of Democrats, Republicans, and independents. It should issue regular reports on campaign finance and lobbying. And it should make recommendations for future ethics laws. It should be invested with real powers, not empty facades.
Finally, I favor term limits for Utah’s elected officials so that the culture of profiteering from public service is sworn off for good. Commit to service. Serve a cause. Then move on. That is the essence of social responsibility and good government.
Integrity in government is a topic that strikes close to home. For integrity is something I have been taught in every step of my life, from my parents to the military to my religion. It is also something my wife Heather and I have worked hard to instill in our children.
Utahns are people of the highest integrity, who deserve a government that reflects, not belies, this great virtue. My objective as governor is to restore to our state a government that is as good as the people it serves. Utahns deserve, and we must stand for, nothing less.