LDS church leader says several political donations made in his name were ‘oversight’

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a top leader with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks during a news conference on Feb. 7, 2017, in Salt Lake City, Utah | Associated Press photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A top leader with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Friday political donations made in his name to several Democratic candidates, including President Joe Biden, that violate the faith’s political neutrality rules were done 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 church’s policy related to political donations from church leaders.”

Uchtdorf is a member of a top governing body in the church called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which sits below the first presidency and helps set church policy and oversees the faith’s business interests.

A church rule created in 2011 when member Mitt Romney was running for the GOP presidential nomination dictates that members of this panel and other full-time church leaders and their spouses should not participate in political campaigns or give donations.

The church tries to be careful to maintain political neutrality by refraining from backing one party or endorsing candidates, though leaders sometimes weigh in on what they consider crucial moral issues.

Church officials declined comment Friday beyond providing the statement from Uchtdorf.

The fact that Uchtdorf’s family account donated to Democratic candidates is somewhat surprising considering most members of the faith lean Republican, especially in Utah where the governor and the state’s entire congressional delegation are Republicans.

Uchtdorf’s account gave $1,250 to Biden’s campaigns in 2020, according to information from the Federal Elections Commission that Salt Lake City news organizations reported Friday.

FEC data shows that nearly $1,000 was given to a candidate through a nonprofit online fundraising platform called ActBlue that supports Democratic candidates. Nearly $600 was given to a pair of Democrats ahead of a Jan. 5 runoff election in Georgia that determined control of the U.S. Senate.

Uchtdorf, 80, was twice a refugee of war before he left Germany to immigrate to the U.S. and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Before becoming a full-time church leader in 1996, Uchtdorf was a pilot for the German airline Lufthansa and later served in management roles, including vice president of flight operations and chief pilot.

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