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Gay-rights supporters finance candidate

Democratic legislator Christine Johnson has amassed large campaign donations from people and organizations supporting gay rights, with giving from an Orem man and a Washington, D.C., political-action committee propping up her election account.

Johnson, who is gay, represents the Snyderville Basin in the state House of Representatives, and her district stretches into Summit County from the eastern benches of Salt Lake City.

Donors to her re-election campaign include Orem resident Bruce Bastian, who gave Johnson $5,000. Johnson said Bastian supports gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender candidates. He gave additional money through a gay-rights group, she said. Meanwhile, the Washington, D.C., political-action committee Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund gave Johnson $6,184.22, with the donations starting in January.

"It helps me. It’s a very progressive district," Johnson said of the donations.

Johnson is expected to soundly defeat her Republican and Constitution Party opponents in November. Her district has long been a Democratic stronghold. She lives in the southern edge of the University of Utah district.

Johnson said donations from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund boosts diversity at the Statehouse, saying that they help "ensure minority representation." The largest donation from the group to Johnson — $4,832.50 — came after a fund-raiser held for Johnson and another gay lawmaker.

Campaign-finance reports recently filed with state election officials show Johnson had received $19,856.73 in contributions and she had spent $15,421.04. She had another $6,399.95 in her account, partly from funds in the account when the campaign started. She said the expense ledger overstates what she has spent, and she said numbers listed by the state are inaccurate.

Her reports show she has not raised money from people in Summit County.

Some of her campaign donations are spent on traveling to conferences. She said it is common for legislators to use campaign donations in that manner.

Other donors include a Cambridge, Mass., organization supporting Democrats called ActBlue, the Planned Parenthood Action Council in Salt Lake City and a teachers political-action committee. Corporate interests that have donated include Comcast, a beer wholesalers group, a petroleum association, a bankers association and Salt Lake Valley attorneys.

Johnson said she does not accept donations from Big Tobacco, the nuclear-waste firm EnergySolutions and realtors.

Johnson said she does not provide legislative favors for her donors.

"They’re important only that they help me get elected, period," Johnson said. "I don’t make deals with bills. I’m not for sale."

Johnson’s Republican opponent, Garrett Clark, reported receiving $865 in contributions and spending $200. He lists individuals as donors, with most coming from the Salt Lake Valley. None of his donors are listed as being from Summit County.

Clark said he made most of his expenditures this week, after the filing was due to the state. He bought signs and T-shirts, printed campaign literature and purchased advertisements, he said.

He hopes for donations from state and Salt Lake County Republicans and from EnergySolutions.


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