This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is again raising questions surrounding challenger Jackie Biskupski and campaign funding through political action committees.
Biskupski, in turn, says the mayor is "going negative" in what appears to be a close race in order to "attack and distract from the issues."
Last week, the mayor, who is seeking a third term, criticized the former state legislator for billboards supporting her candidacy popping up around town. Those signs some 15 of them were purchased by a PAC created by Reagan Outdoor Advertising.
Tuesday, Becker pointed to recent polling that Biskupski's campaign is conducting in conjunction with a PAC called Alliance for Better Leaders (AFBL).
She also had enlisted that PAC for polling before she entered the mayor's race.
Because the Reagan sign PAC is acting independently of Biskupski's campaign, there are no limits on spending, according to state law.
However, Biskupski's campaign is coordinating with AFBL for the polling. As such, the PAC is legally limited under Salt Lake City ordinances to an in-kind contribution of $7,500 the same limit for individual donations in the mayor's race.
Matt Lyon, Becker's campaign manager, said he doubts whether the poll Biskupski is now conducting could be accomplished for $7,500. Second, he said individuals who have contributed to Biskupski's campaign also have contributed to AFBL.
"When a candidate is raising money for a PAC and then determining how it is spent, that is skirting campaign-finance law," Lyon said. "It is a serious and dangerous concern. Elected officials have to uphold the public trust."
Further, Lyon said that AFBL had not registered, as required, with the city recorder's office.
AFBL was created several years ago to support upcoming political leaders, said founder Robert Bergman. The nonpartisan organization is made up of business owners and residents, he said.
The PAC spent $27,000 last year on polling for undisclosed candidates, according to its year-end disclosure. It has raised $20,550 this year with the biggest contributions coming from philanthropist Marcia Price ($12,000) and business mogul Don Skaggs ($7,000).
The PAC, which had been registered with the state elections office, belatedly registered Monday afternoon with the city, confirmed City Recorder Cindi Mansell.
Biskupski labeled the allegations as "ridiculous" in an interview and noted that Salt Lake City's campaign ordinances are unclear.
"We're playing by Ralph's rules and now he's saying we're breaking the law?" she said with a note of irony. "As mayor, the first thing I would do is clarify those ordinances."
Becker's allegations point to his anxiety in a tight race, Biskupski said.
"He is saying things that aren't true and maligning my character," she said. "He is going negative. That is without question. But we've got nothing to hide and welcome the scrutiny."
As of the July 1 reporting deadline, Biskupski had raised $219,824. By contrast Becker had taken in $419,495, and had a previous balance of $200,333 for a total of $619,828.
Also running are City Council Chairman Luke Garrott, who had raised $17,906 as of July 1; community activist George Chapman, who has taken in $2,600; and businessman Dave Robinson, who had raised $15,000 as of July 1.
The primary election is Aug. 11. The two top vote-getters will face off in the November 3 general election.