Politicos debate free speech rights

State+Rep.+Greg+Hughes+%28R-Draper%29%2C+lawyer+Max+Miller+and+director+of+the+Institute+for+Justice+-+Washington+Chapter+Bill+Maurer+debate+free+speech+within+campaign+finance.+Photo+by+Erin+Burns.

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State Rep. Greg Hughes (R-Draper), lawyer Max Miller and director of the Institute for Justice – Washington Chapter Bill Maurer debate free speech within campaign finance. Photo by Erin Burns.

State Rep. Greg Hughes (R-Draper), lawyer Max Miller and director of the Institute for Justice - Washington Chapter Bill Maurer debate free speech within campaign finance. Photo by Erin Burns.
State Rep. Greg Hughes (R-Draper), lawyer Max Miller and director of the Institute for Justice – Washington Chapter Bill Maurer debate free speech within campaign finance. Photo by Erin Burns.
If money could talk, the Hinckley Institute of Politics knows what it would say.
In a forum yesterday, commentators at the Hinckley Institute discussed the regulations of free speech within campaign finance. The debate stemmed from controversy about HB 43, signed by Gov. Gary Herbert in April 2013.
The bill maintains the previously unlimited financial donations to non-profits but instates a full disclosure policy. This includes the donor’s name, address, employer and if the donor agreed to allow their money to be used for political purposes. The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Gregory Hughes (R-Draper) defended it.
“[The policy] would create transparency for voters,” Hughes said.
Speaking against this policy was Bill Maurer, director of the Institute for Justice–Washington Chapter. He stated donors to political campaigns have a right to remain anonymous. Maurer said the policy would be harmful to donors and the political system because it creates a potential for harassment if the database is accessible to the public.
“People assume disclosure is relatively benign,” Maurer said. “It’s not.”
Max Miller, a lawyer for more than 40 years, asked Maurer if the Institute for Justice would file a lawsuit against the policy. Maurer stated the Institute is not currently pursuing one.
“There are ways to improve HB 43 that would make it better from a First Amendment standpoint,” Maurer said. But he believes the bill should be scrapped altogether.
Hughes disagreed and said the policy creates “an equal playing field” for corporations.
“I didn’t see this country become what it is in this anonymous sort of way,” Hughes said. “Stand up for what you believe in, get out there and say ‘this is how I think things ought to be.’ ”
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