Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Should candidates disclose contributions?

Ketchum leaders debate pros and cons

Express Staff Writer

    Ketchum City Council members declined to take action Monday on a request that the city keep public records of how much candidates for public office collect in campaign contributions. However, some members of the council expressed interest in pursuing one of either two paths for the city to legally collect the data.
    At issue is a request by Ketchum resident Gary Hoffman to have the city mandate that candidates reveal the amounts of campaign contributions they receive from supporters. Hoffman said he believes “unreasonable amounts of money” have changed the outcomes of elections in the city, money that has gone toward political signs, parties and advertisements.

It’s hard enough to get people to run for these positions.”
Baird Gourlay

    City Attorney Stephanie Bonney told the council that state law does not allow cities as small as Ketchum to mandate disclosure of campaign funding but said the city could pursue one of two options aimed toward that goal. Bonney said the city could pass a non-binding resolution encouraging candidates to provide the information to the public, or could pursue state legislation that would allow small cities—those with fewer than 5,000 residents—to make it mandatory.
    Councilman Baird Gourlay said he would not support an initiative that might discourage candidates from running for office.
    “It’s hard enough to get people to run for these positions,” he said.
    Councilwoman Anne Corrock said she might support passage of a non-binding resolution but other council members maintained that such an action would essentially be meaningless.
    In the end, council members agreed that they might “opt in” as a supporter of legislation to change the state law, if such legislation is brought forth.
    When asked how much they received in contributions in the last election they ran in, councilors and Mayor Nina Jonas answered without hesitation. Corrock said she received about $4,000, Jonas said she received about $15,000, Councilman Michael David said he took in $1,500 and Councilman Jim Slanetz said he received $1,150. Gourlay said he took in about $7,000 but did not use it all and gave the remainder to the nonprofit Hunger Coalition.

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