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Editorial

So, who is bankrolling the City Council campaign?

It’s less than two weeks until Election Day, and do you know who is bankrolling the Park City Council campaign?

Probably not, because City Hall has not yet required the candidates still on the ballot to file financial statements, an unfortunate result of a change in the rules that hardly anyone noticed when it was made.

The City Councilors in May, in a vote they should regret, allowed candidates to keep secret their donors and expenses until after the primary election, meaning nobody but the candidates and the donors knew who was giving money when voters went to the polls in the primary.

As a result of the change, those who advanced out of the primary have until Oct. 30 to file their first statement with City Hall, just a week before Election Day. They must submit a final report after the election.

The changes, an official has said, reflect the relatively inexpensive Park City campaigns of recent years, with candidates raising and spending far less than they were in the elections during the era before the Winter Olympics.

This year, the low-cost trend appears to be continuing, with Michael Kaplan, the loser in the September primary, reporting spending just $630.74 in a self-financed campaign.

But City Hall’s thinking is erroneous. It is, of course, a person’s constitutional right to donate to a candidate, but voters also deserve to know who’s giving to the politicians, regardless of the amounts involved.

Once the ramifications of the May vote were publicized, around the time of the primary, some of the elected officials seemed genuinely unaware of the impact. That they supported a change, at least some apparently without realizing what they were doing, is disconcerting.

In a meeting after the primary, Mayor Dana William declared he wanted the change in the campaign-finance rules reviewed. He said voters would be better prepared to vote in a primary if the donors were known. We agree.

The fix is easy: another City Council vote to change the rules to require a campaign-finance disclosure before a primary. The change should be made before the end of the year, when the current term expires. The City Councilors who loosened the rules should be the ones who tighten them again.


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