Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Utah County GOP ethics purity pledge and false info about the LDS church distributed at caucus meetings

The Tribune reported on the plan of the Utah County Republican Party to require their candidates to sign a form stating whether they had signed the Utahns for Ethical Government voter initiative seeking to put an extensive ethics reform law on the ballot in November. I called it weird in my other headline, but I actually am coming to expect stuff like this from leadership and incumbents protecting their turf. The whole opposition campaign is being approached dishonestly. I hope some brave soul or two will be brave enough to fill out the form and proudly own at the county convention that they signed the ethics initiative as well as the Fair Boundaries initiative. In the article, I underlined the responses of the Republican Party Chairs from Davis and Weber Counties where they explain the initiative is not “against the Republican Party” or a litmus test in their conventions as signatures were even being gather at the caucus meetings.

The Utah County Republican Party anti-ethics offensive extended to distributing a misleading flyer to every single caucus attendee in the valley. It contained similar charges and the web address to this site full of misrepresentations and outright lies about the effects of the ethics initiative, but the caucus flyer was significantly toned down in terms of language. The first false charge, that local leaders of the LDS church will be prevented from running for political office, was couched in the caucus flyer in terms of “some even say it reaches so far as to limit LDS leaders from serving.” The website comes right out and claims the initiative will prevent LDS leaders from running for office. No local LDS leaders such as bishops, stake presidencies, Relief Society presidents, etc. have anything to do with controlling the supposed paid lobbyists employed by the LDS church. Various legislators were offended at times this session when others “misinterpreted” or twisted the words or provisions of their bills to mean things other than what was intended. The incumbent protection crew is now trying to twist the definitions of the initiative to claim horrible collateral damage to freedom and justice. (I will post more in a few days about other false claims made by the website.) It is ironic that they are using untruthful techniques to undermine a bill that they claim will lead to “Those who purposefully make fictitious or groundless complaints…”

The anti-Mormon claim is an intentional ramping up of the GOP’s strategy to persuade people to remove their names from the initiative. They hit the caucus attendees—many of whom were first time attendees this year who knew nothing about the current initiatives or history of ethics reform battles in the legislature—with an opening salvo. If the initiative gathers enough signatures by April 15th, the county and state GOP will be contacting those who signed, especially registered Republicans, and telling them they were tricked by those dishonest volunteer signature gatherers who didn’t tell them that this was an anti-Mormon attempt to allow liberals to take over the legislature. They will use the time granted by the unequal bill, SB 275, allowing them to run a signature removal campaign for one extra month after the required signatures are due to the county clerks.

The Utah legislative leadership and some Republican Party leadership are using dishonest arguments to derail a citizen initiative on ethics. In the last two years, they moved the signature gathering deadline from June 1st to April 15th claiming the clerks were overburdened, then showed that to be a false rationale by giving citizen initiative opponents (naturally the establishment since citizen initiatives are attempting to bypass the legislature) an extra month to try and convince initiative signers to have their signature removed. But, please… please… think of the poor clerks. Read the bills, read the legislature’s claims, read the websites of the initiatives themselves, and I think you will see the sad irony as the legislature proves its need for outside action through its own campaign to resist far-reaching ethics reform.

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