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Law School Case Brief

State v. Hutchinson - 624 P.2d 1116 (Utah Sup.Ct. 1980)


Salt Lake County, Utah Rev. Ordinances § 1-10-4 requires the filing of campaign statements and the disclosure of campaign contributions. That section provides: Campaign Statements. 1. Every candidate for election or his designated committee secretary shall file with the county clerk on forms furnished by the clerk, full, correct and itemized statements of all monies and things of monetary value received and expended in the furtherance of said candidacy in accordance with the schedule set forth in this section. 5. All statements shall be dated and signed by the candidate and the committee secretary. Failure to comply with those provisions is a misdemeanor.


Defendant William L. Hutchinson, a candidate for the office of Salt Lake County Commissioner, was charged with having violated § 1-10-4, Revised Ordinances of Salt Lake County, which requires the filing of campaign statements and the disclosure of campaign contributions. A complaint charged Hutchinson in two counts: (1) failure to report the name and address of a $ 6,000 contributor to his election campaign, and (2) failure to file supplemental campaign disclosures of the discharge of campaign debts and obligations. Defendant filed a motion in a Utah city court to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the ordinance was in violation of the Utah Constitution. The court granted the motion and held that Salt Lake County was without constitutional or statutory authority to enact the ordinance under which Hutchinson was charged and dismissed the complaint. An appeal was taken to a district court which affirmed the dismissal. The State appealed.


Was Salt Lake County Ordinance No. 1-10-4 unconstitutional?




The state supreme court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded the case for a trial on the merits. The court held that the § 1-10-4 was constitutional because: (1) Utah Code Ann. § 17-5-77 (1953) conferred upon cities and counties the authority to enact all necessary measures to promote the general health, safety, morals, and welfare of their citizens; (2) the county was entitled to conclude that financial disclosure by candidates would directly serve the legitimate purpose of achieving the goal that special interests should not be able to exercise undue influence in local elections without their influence being brought to light; (3) Dillon's Rule of strict construction could not be used to restrict the power of a county under a grant by the legislature of general welfare power or prevent counties from using reasonable means to implement specific grants of authority; and (4) the ordinance did not conflict, directly or impliedly, with any state statute.

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