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One governor is requesting $50K from taxpayers to fight pornography

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Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during an interview in the Gold Room of the Utah Capitol. (Getty Images/Cayve Clifford)

Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert is asking for $50,000 from taxpayers for his continued fight against pornography.

The money, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, would be granted to the nonprofit Utah Coalition Against Pornography to hold anti-pornography conferences and seminars on addiction and preventative measures for children.

"I am already on the record that pornography is a public-health issue," Herbert told the Tribune. "This effort is an effective way to empower parents with practical methods to protect their families from the dangers of pornography."

Utah became the first state to declare pornography to be a public health crisis after Herbert signed legislation in April that deemed it an "epidemic that is harming the citizens of Utah and the nation."

Herbert's initial declaration incited a backlash among many in the adult entertainment business, including the editors of Penthouse.

But Herbert's latest efforts would be the first time in more than a decade that public money has gone to fund anti-pornography initiatives, the Tribune reported.

"The bottom line is that the incidence of pornography is growing despite all the efforts of so many people in the world and around the country," Pamela Atkinson, a close adviser to Herbert said. "[The money] is needed for educating the public and parents in terms of what we can do and what resources are available."

But Utah Libertarian Party Chairman Andrew McCullough sees Herbert's proposal as a waste of taxpayer's money.

"In the greater scheme of things, the governor would say, 'that's not a lot of money,' but it is a lot of money if you're throwing it down a rat hole or using it to interfere with my personal freedoms," McCullough, an attorney who has represented adult businesses in Utah, told the Tribune. "So no, I don't like it even slightly."

As the Tribune noted, Herbert's monetary request was buried on the 92nd page of the annual budget request to the state legislature. This year the budget totaled $16 billion.

A February Utah Policy poll found that 73 percent of Utahans believe porn to be a public health crisis.

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