Ethics reforms pass as 2 top officials investigated

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As investigations into both Attorney General John Swallow and Lt. Gov. Greg Bell focused a spotlight on ethics, the Legislature passed several reform bills this year.

Lawmakers passed SB83 to restrict moonlighting by top state political appointees. That came after revelations that Swallow was paid $23,500 while he was the chief deputy to former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff for consulting work on a cement project for a friend who owned a chain of payday-lending stores.

They also passed legislation to create an independent ethics commission for elected executive branch officials, to match an existing one for legislators.

It also passed a bill designed to close a loophole that allowed corporations to keep secret who donates to them for political purposes, although critics say it is unconstitutional and vow a court challenge.

Lawmakers also required pollsters to identify who funds surveys at the end of questioning, an attempt to stop "push-polls" that are more akin to negative campaign ads than truly scientific polls.

Lee Davidson