Utah’s Incumbent Protection Twins: SB54 and CMV Initiative

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A national campaign to destroy any remaining grassroots neighborhood, caucus-convention election systems. Utah is a #1 target. Immediate action in Utah is needed now.

UPDATED March 19, 2014
Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert signed into law SB 54, which unconstitutionally alters the caucus system. Action now entails the following:

1. Sign the petition to preserve the caucus.

2. Donate to American Leadership Fund. It will now take a legal challenge to protect the First Amendment right to assemble.


Summary

This bill that passed the legislature and that the Governor signed is the “Count My Vote-Buy My Vote” equivalent. As members of the Republican State Central Committee, it was a complete over-reach by the legislature to dictate to a private entity what its voting members can or cannot do. Our legislature was guilty of doing what it complains Congress does: trampling on the 10th Amendment.

They have indeed trampled on the First Amendment – our right to freely assemble.

The CMV campaign was behind SB 54, and they completely ignored the elected body of the party. That is equivalent to the state legislature telling your company and its board what its voting rules must be.

The bill was backed and promoted by elitists and DC lobbyists who are unscrupulous and who have promoted the Democratic National Convention and even who created Stephen Colbert’s SuperPAC specifically to mock Republican candidates – including Mitt Romney.

It adopts a “dual” election system similar to Connecticut’s. I used to live in Connecticut. Anyone can petition to get on the primary ballot in this system, yielding strange – and often disturbing – results.

When so many are running on the ballot, typically a plurality prevails, in which the winner does not get the majority and leaves the party – those who are working hard and are most involved – in disarray.

It also allows people of the opposing party to intervene and manipulate the election of good, conservative candidates.

It also allows anyone to vote – regardless of political affiliation – in a political party’s primary. This is unconstitutional and violated First Amendment rights of freedom of association.

The Utah bill, 2SB54, passed both the State House and Senate and then headed to the Governor’s office. He reported to the Republican State Central Committee that he supports the caucus-convention. Then why did he sign this bill into law? It will destroy the caucus-convention.

It is unconstitutional and sets a dangerous precedent for a legislative body to dictate to a private for-profit or non-profit corporation what its internal voting members can do and who they can be. (Translated: Do you want a legislature to have this authority over a religious institution?)

Here is the report on what has happened in Utah in hearings, and what has been happening all across the nation.

On Monday, March 3, 2014 testimonies from several Utah Republican State Central Committee members who have been working to preserve the neighborhood caucus election system were heard in the state legislative hearing on Senator Curt Bramble’s bill 2SB54.

First, Iron County Republican Chairman Blake Cozzens delivered an effective message about about how he, as a 23 year old, was able to run and be elected a county vice chair, and then shortly after as county chairman in a rural county. He also expressed his concern about the damage this proposal would do to the rural areas of the state, concerns also expressed by several committee members including Mike Noel and John Mathis, both representatives from rural counties.

Next, former State Representative Chris Herrod spoke passionately about the unconstitutionality of a legislative body intervening into private corporate affairs to dictate who the voting members can be and how its brand is used – a clear violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Committee member Ken Ivory concurred and also spoke strongly about this concern.

Following these testimonies, I spoke to my experience with the proposed “dual” election system in Connecticut. The chairman interrupted me and asked me to speak to the issue at hand, claiming my comments were not germane to the topic.

This was an indication of lack of information that some of our state legislators have about what they are reviewing and on which they are voting. I explained that last year the state central committee had been given a 26-page legal brief prepared by DC lobbyists Caplin and Drysdale and that the bill on the table was similar to that proposal.

I called it an incumbent-career politician-lobbyist protection bill. I showed how this so-called “compromise” is tied to and is nearly identical to that original DC lobbyist legal brief advocating for how and why Utah should be more like Connecticut by adopting its dual election system.

SB54S2 and CMV Initiative

Having lived in Connecticut, I know of the corruption and fraud that petitioning encourages. The current Count My Vote petition process should be an example and foreshadowing of things to come. It unconstitutionally meddles in the privacy of a corporation by allowing a legislature to dictate to that private corporation who its voting members are and how its brand may be used and by whom.

It creates a plurality election system where only rich and famous can petition and win – typically garnering less than a majority, and leaving candidate workers who supported the winner at odds with the majority of the other workers in the party.

After speaking with a Republican leader and friends in Connecticut, they are asking an important question: Why would Utah want to be like Connecticut when Connecticut would like to be more like Utah?

That’s a good question. And here’s the answer:

It’s really not about voters. It’s about incumbent and lobbyist protection. Lobbyists love career politicians. They and their consultants make huge sums of money with media buys in sound-bite, drive-by elections that remove the voting rights of the rural counties as well as those that are most committed to helping candidates get elected.

These lobbyists want uninformed voters because they’re easier to deceive.

It makes sense that elected officials who may support such measures have figured it out. They all have one thing in common regardless of party affiliation: They are all incumbents. This is their re-election protection policy!

I’ve just returned from a speaking trip on the East Coast. Utah is not alone. This is an all-out national attack on those states that use this grassroots system. The lobbyists behind this campaign to destroy Utah’s constitutional system, closest to the people and to replace it with the system that will further suit their purposes – keeping them in power and YOU and I at a distance, are with Caplin and Drysdale in DC.

These lobbyists represent the Democratic National Committee, they created McCain-Feingold – another election regulation that protects wealthy, self-funding candidates such as John McCain, while forcing the rest of us to raise the money $2,600 check by $2,600 check at a time.

Colbert and Sanderson

Stephen Colbert confers with lobbyists from Caplin & Drysdale, leads on the Utah CMV initiative to eliminate the neighborhood elections (caucus)

And if that isn’t enough, they also created Stephen Colbert’s SuperPAC to mock Republican candidates in 2012, including Mitt Romney.

So if our legislators want this kind of sleazy protection, by all means, vote FOR SB 54S2. But if they want to do the principled thing, vote AGAINST SB 54S2.

Capping the testimonies, former State Representative Fred Cox effectively spoke to his specific concerns about convention deadlines. He pointed out that he had fought the CMV proposals in their time frame and method last spring, but had worked on improvements. He said the Same Day Ballot was being tried out for 2014 for which solves several concerns and would not be ruined by the new Sub SB 54 where the previous version did. He believes SB 54 was over reaching and that they needed for fix the April 1st requirement. (As written, if we don’t follow the April 1st requirement we would be subject to CMV).

At the end of my testimony, Representative Kraig Powell questioned whether I had done anything to support any changes or improvements in 2013. I responded that, yes I had, and that many have spent hours reviewing changes that would streamline the caucus, and yes, I was involved in that process and yes, I did support those improvements.

I supported improvements, Mr. Powell, not those changes that would harm or replace it.

Representative Powell moved to lift the bill out of committee. He was particularly condescending to you and me – the voters, suggesting we needed to take a “Political Science 101 course.”

Then Senator Todd Weiler tweeted that it was ironic that I was “taking credit” for the improvements. I tweeted: #lie. (I took no such credit.)

Actually, Senator Weiler IS the irony.

Why would a Senator – an attorney – who places an “R” behind his name, and who professes to stand for that party’s platform of limited government and more state sovereignty, prop up the very lobbyist system that binds Utah to federal over-reach? Why would he want to grow the corrupting influence of big money over the people’s voices?

And why would ANY Utah elected official that has taken an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution vote for a bill that violates our First Amendment right to freely associate?

Because too many fear the loss of their re-election over doing what is right.

I’ve been following the tweets that have continued since the hearing. It is disheartening to read that Senator Weiler and perhaps others of his colleagues believe that the extensive process the state central committee went through with complete transparency and input from a wide range of people to vet the best ideas was inferior to the 12 hours the legislature gave the committee to vet their proposal, which was negotiated entirely behind closed doors to include backroom deals with lobbyists and consultants.

But then this is the way government is run. I’m reminded of the warning of the arrogance of officialdom attributed to Cicero.

I want to personally thank all those who spent so much more time than I was able to give for what they have done to protect our voices and our neighborhood elections.

Although the committee voted unanimously in favor of moving the bill onto the House floor, several did express their dislike for the bill and indicated that they may vote against it on the floor. Those were: Reps. Grover, Noel, Mathis, Ivory.

Once again, Rep. Powell voted with the Democrats Fisher and Chavez-Houck, not to give it a robust debate on the House floor, but because all support allowing lobbyists and consultants to buy your vote.

I agree with our young Republican leader, the 25 year old Iron County Republican County chairman Blake Cozzens that this is no compromise. It’s a surrender.

1. Sign the petition to preserve the caucus.

2. Donate to American Leadership Fund.

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