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SALT LAKE CITY — February 4, 2010 — Sutherland Institute, a conservative, state-based public policy organization, has called on the Utah State Legislature to make it easier for citizens to have their names removed from initiative petitions.

 

Sutherland Institute continues to support meaningful ethics reform.  As detailed in the Institute’s recently-published analysis of the Utahns for Ethical Government (UEG) proposal, however, the “independent ethics commission” and legislative ethics code proposed by UEG is definitely not the way to undertake ethics reform.  It is, in fact, dangerous, according to Sutherland.

 

Compounding concerns is the fact that after actually reading the 21-page UEG initiative, many Utahns are finding the process of removing their names from the petition to be much more time-consuming and inconvenient than it was to sign it.  To address this concern, Sutherland Institute is requesting that members of the Senate and House implement legislation to simplify the manner by which citizens may have their names removed from an initiative petition, if they choose to do so.

 

Underscoring the problem of citizens signing without reading the petition is the experience of Catherine Johansen, a resident of northern Utah.

 

“I recently attended a town hall meeting where the (UEG) petition was displayed, taped down to the table, seemingly designed to discourage people from reading it,” she said.  “Knowing the content of the petition, because I have read it, I thought this tactic questionable if not unethical.  Even more disturbing to me were the many who were obligingly signing this petition without reading it, simply on the assurance from the people behind the tables that, ‘this is about an ethical legislature,’ which of course everyone is for, including me, but this seems like an unethical way to go about it.”

 

Sutherland Institute is of the opinion that a citizen who has read and discovered the perils included in the UEG initiative and subsequently wants to have his or her name removed should not have to endure a process which is much more difficult than the simple act of signing the petition.

 

The Sutherland Institute analysis of the UEG ethics-reform initiative is available at:
http://sutherlandinstitute.org/uploads/A_Critical_View_of_the_Government_Ethics_Reform_Initiative.pdf

 

Sutherland’s December 2008 ethics-reform recommendations are available at:
http://sutherlandinstitute.org/uploads/PoliticsOrPolityEthicsReformForUtahFinalFinal.pdf

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