Utah sees $1.6 million in outside spending, including a corporation


Spending by outside interest groups helped force Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, into a primary, but the veteran lawmaker, comfortably ahead in Tuesday's race according to an election eve poll, is benefiting from some home state corporate love.

O. C. Tanner Co., a Utah company that specializes in employee appreciation and awards programs and that has donated Olympic rings for U.S. athletes since the Salt Lake games in 2000, has shown its appreciation for Hatch with a $5,700 in print advertisements supporting him. It's the sort of direct corporate support for a candidate that only became possible after the 2010 Citizens United ruling, which the Supreme Court reaffirmed this week. 

Granted, this is dwarfed by the other $1.6 million in outside spending in the Utah race. That's more than all but five other Senate races so far, according to a list compiled by Sunlight's tracker, Follow the Unlimited Money. The National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund and U.S. Chamber of Commerce are supporting Hatch, but their spending, both shy of $100,000, is dwarfed by that of outside groups opposing the six-term senator.

The biggest spender in the Utah Senate race is Freedomworks for America, a super PAC. Most of its spending has been targeted against Hatch, one of two longtime incumbents facing challenges Tuesday. Freedomworks has spent $987,000 in this race and Freedomworks Political Action Committee has spent an additional $2,000. Only $46,000 of the independent spending went toward supporting Dan Liljenquist, the former state senator who is challenging Hatch in the GOP primary.

So far this election cycle, $1.8 million of Freedomworks for America’s $4.5 million came from Freedomworks, its sister organization that does not disclose donors. In 2011, 60 percent of Freedomworks for America income came from Freedomworks.

After Freedomworks, the next biggest outside spender in the Utah Senate race is Freedom Path, spending $189,000 in independent expenditure spending and also created electioneering ads for the Utah Race costing, $156,000. Freedom Path’s ad, “Three Men” posted below, supports Hatch, citing his role as an author of the balanced budget amendment.