Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has signed a new push-poll bill into law but hasn’t yet added his signature to a controversial disclosure bill. Both pieces of legislation were targeted at the state’s political consultants.
HB 43 requires that a corporation, including not-for-profit corporations, disclose all donors and donation amounts when it makes a political issue expenditure of $750. The current law requires corporations only list how much they spent without having to disclose their donors. Herbert has signed a stack of bills the past week but hasn't yet gotten to HB 43. His office won't comment on whether he'll veto the legislation, but it's possible.
The bill is opposed by groups ranging from the ACLU to the National Rifle Association, whose Institute for Legislative Action sent an email to supporters March 22 asking them to contact Herbert's office to "respectfully request" he veto the "unconstitutionally vague" bill. "This bill is a dangerous politically motivated measure and must be stopped," the group said.
The NRA's opposition was a surprise to the bill's supporters who thought the organization's lobbyist in Utah had of approved the measure. Meanwhile, HB 44, which requires disclosure of who paid for a poll, was signed by Herbert March 27 despite opposition from the American Association of Political Consultants and the Marketing Research Association.
“Perhaps the biggest problem with the new Utah law is the bad precedent. New Hampshire can at least contend that their ‘push poll’ law, and its deleterious impact on research, was a result of bad drafting,’” Howard Fienberg, a spokesman for the MRA, stated. “Utah, on the other hand, has taken a thoroughly misguided approach that will hurt the research profession (and the research Utah residents and politicians rely upon) while doing little or nothing to diminish deceptive and abusive election campaign behavior.”