Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a key leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks at a press conference February 7, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah | Associated Press photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A senior Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leader said on Friday that political donations made on his behalf to several Democratic candidates, including President Joe Biden, that violate the faith’s rules of political neutrality have been made by his family.
Dieter Uchtdorf said in a statement provided by church officials that the contributions came from an online family account associated with his name.
“I regret such an oversight on my part,” Uchtdorf said. “I fully support the policy of the church regarding political donations from church leaders.”
Uchtdorf is a member of a governing body of the church called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which sits below the first presidency and helps set church policy and oversees the business interests of the faith.
A church rule created in 2011 when member Mitt Romney was running for the presidential nomination of the GOP dictates that members of this panel and other full-time religious leaders and their spouses must not participate in political campaigns or donate.
The church tries to be careful to maintain political neutrality by refraining from supporting a party or supporting candidates, though leaders sometimes weigh in on what they see as critical moral issues.
Church officials declined to comment on Friday beyond Uchtdorf’s statement.
The fact that Uchtdorf’s family account was given to Democratic candidates is somewhat surprising given most members of the lean Republican faith, especially in Utah where the governor and the entire delegation of the State Congressmen are Republicans.
Uchtdorf’s account donated $ 1,250 to Biden’s campaigns in 2020, according to Federal Election Commission information that Salt Lake City news agencies reported on Friday.
FEC data shows nearly $ 1,000 was given to a candidate through a nonprofit online fundraising platform called ActBlue that supports Democratic candidates. Nearly $ 600 was handed over to two Democrats ahead of Georgia’s Jan.5 runoff election that determined control of the US Senate.
Uchtdorf, 80, was a war refugee twice before leaving Germany to immigrate to the United States and become a naturalized American citizen. Prior to becoming a full-time church leader in 1996, Uchtdorf was a pilot for German airline Lufthansa and then held senior positions including vice president of flight operations and chief pilot.
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