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A visibly exasperated Gov. Gary Herbert accused Democratic challenger Peter Corroon of twisting facts and disparaging his integrity by suggesting that big donors got special treatment from the Herbert administration.

"There you go again, Peter," Hebert said. "These accusations are absolutely false. The accusations you're making impugn the integrity not only of the governor, but of many businesspeople, volunteers, state legislators, with accusations that have no basis in fact."

Specifically, Herbert took issue with Corroon questioning whether $87,500 in contributions from a group of contractors garnered them meetings in the Governor's Office and affected the outcome of a $1.1 billion contract to rebuild 24 miles of Interstate 15.

"I'm not questioning anyone's integrity. I'm questioning your judgment and leadership on this issue," Corroon said. "They're using the Governor's Office for campaign purposes. That's wrong. That's dead wrong."

Herbert appeared aggravated at times during the debate, sponsored by KUTV and The Salt Lake Tribune. His hands gestured emphatically, driving home his points, and he shook his head with disgust.

Twice during the half-hour debate, he slapped his knees with both hands out of frustration as Corroon again questioned the I-15 bid.

Herbert said the winning bidder would build more roads in a shorter time frame and that winning the contract had nothing to do with the donations from the winning members.

Herbert also said Corroon hadn't taken him up on his offer to review any of the material related to the I-15 bid.

"Peter Corroon won't take the time to go get the rest of the facts because he's not interested in the facts. This is all about political posturing," Herbert said.

In the course of their second debate, the candidates also clashed in spirited exchanges over whether Herbert has cut education funding and whether, as Salt Lake County mayor, Corroon raised taxes and increased the size of government.

Both candidates tried to talk over each other and traded pointed barbs in a confrontational campaign that is a notable departure from Utah's normally genteel politics.

Corroon said he implemented a "police fee" on unincorporated Salt Lake County because public safety couldn't be skimped on, but that the county hasn't raised property taxes and he has cut spending. Much of the reduction in spending that Corroon's campaign claims stems from a decision to postpone building projects and move the police and fire functions out of the regular county budget.

Corroon said counties are being stuck with more of the burden for public safety, citing reports that the state prison system is going to start putting hundreds of additional state inmates in county jails to alleviate overcrowding and only pay a small portion of the cost.

Corroon said Herbert also raised the cigarette tax and cut education.

Herbert denied that he raised cigarette taxes, although he didn't veto a tobacco tax hike of more than $1 per pack, allowing it to take effect without his signature. The governor said it was the Legislature that passed the tax, and he had to work with the governmental body.

"So you don't veto it, and then it's somebody else's tax?" asked an incredulous Corroon.

They also sparred over education funding. Corroon said Herbert has cut it by $10 million, while 24,000 new students have enrolled in schools — a move Corroon said is hurting education.

"That statement is just ridiculous. Do you think the [Utah Education Association] and public-education people would endorse my candidacy if I was hurting public education?" asked Herbert, who claimed Corroon would raise taxes in order to fund education — a statement Corroon said is untrue.