So much misinformation is floating around the topic of Count My Vote and SB 54. Unfortunately the lies and legends are being promoted recently by the Deseret News. It’s beginning to look a lot like an editorial endorsement to destroy the Republican Party.
That’s not surprising. The editorial board is liberal-leaning, and newspapers make more money when there are more primaries and more candidates.
Which all makes sense, because that’s exactly what CMV/SB54 accomplishes.
The opinion editorial written by Dan Liljenquist, former state Senator, who I personally like (and whose wife has a beautiful singing voice, by the way) and the column that Utah’s high profile lobbyists, LaVarr Webb and Frank Pignanelli wrote recently, merely complicate, confuse and rehash old misinformation.
Sadly, none of these authors have been involved in the discussions between delegate-elected party leaders, delegate-elected State Central Committee members, of which I’m a member, and delegates themselves who are actively engaged in finding solutions. The sideline quarterbacking, the misrepresentations, and the belittling of the hard work of Republican Party Chairman James Evans, the Executive Committee and the State Central Committee in defending its constitutional rights is disheartening, to say the least.
One such legend was attached to the Liljenquist article and bears some review: that SB54 was a compromise. No. CMV threatened the State Central Committee (of which I’m a member) in 2013 with a 26-page legal brief that demanded Utah move to a dual track. SB54 has mandated a dual track.
The commenter wrote:
If the Republican Party wants to pay all the costs for having their own primary, then they have the right to keep it closed and use only the caucus system. If it wants the government to pay for the primary, then the government has the right to set some rules, which they did.
The legislature rescued, rather than sold out, the caucus system with SB54. Without it, the caucus system would be history by now – thanks to the Count My Vote petition. No thinking delegates should be bad-mouthing the legislature, unless they are just keeping a closed mind and refusing to see the facts.
(It’s kind of ironic. This is the same inconsistency delegates had with the push for vouchers. The supporters wanted to get government money for private schools, but thought they could get it without government control. It’s just not possible. Freedom isn’t free. It costs time, money, and/or blood. You want freedom? Then pay for it!)
Let’s examine these points.
The Public-Private Partnership
Who should pay for a primary? Great question. The legislature decided that many sessions ago with the “check a buck” program. That could be changed. The Republican Party could pay for its own primary, but the Democrat Party would not be able to sustain itself.
The “ironic” comment in the last paragraph makes an interesting point using the voucher bill as an example: what about the public-private partnership anyway?
The school voucher law failed, but look what happened: Even though the voucher law was repealed by referendum, the legislature doesn’t need vouchers for private schools anymore. Instead, a private school can now apply for a public charter, and they get the vouchers! The commenter is correct: By so doing, they must comply with all the federal and state laws.
The troubling fact is that, in some communities, private schools can’t compete with FREE charter schools. The result is that they are either being forced to go out of business, apply for a charter and secularize. Quite a dilemma for a Catholic or religious private school. And for the Republican principle of free enterprise and “choice.” But everyone LOVES charter schools. So three cheers for charters!
(BYU also takes government funds for research grants and student loans. By so doing, it must comply with government regulations.)
Corporate America is also in bed with the public-private partnership. How many corporations now ask for subsidies or are given tax incentives to relocate to a state or community? Instead of private corporations training their own employees, as they once did, these corporations now rely almost entirely on colleges and universities and trade schools to do it for them – at taxpayer expense.
So, yes. It’s true. There are problems with this arrangement. My point is that it is not just the Republican Party, it’s across the board in nearly every facet of our lives. Government gets to pick and choose who gets to play in a public-private partnership. That is certainly not a Republican ideal.
CMV/SB54 would allow anyone – the unaffiliated – to petition on to the Republican Primary. Judge Nuffer opened the door for the Republican Party, as a private corporation, to define membership. That’s the purpose of this on-going discussion. Republican leaders are now entertaining all possible solutions that would solve the problem of government telling it what to do. We are now compelled to do whatever we can to prevent a run-away primary under CMV/SB54. Some ideas are better than others. But we have a process and elected leaders who are taking this seriously. We have spent countless hours over the past two years to make improvements where possible.
We now that we know the party can define membership, he question is, what are the qualifications and what is the process for party membership? Is this such an outrageous question? Is membership not the right of any private organization to determine?
A far-fetched, but analogous example is the LDS Church (or any church for that matter). Perhaps the legislature should also tell the LDS church that it must the allow the unaffiliated to be baptized. Wait. Why should there be any qualifications – baptism, commandments, basic tenets of belief. Anything goes.
This is not so far-fetched, when you consider the religious liberty challenges of this recent legislative session, and the extent to which the LDS church went to protect not only its employees, but its church leaders, affiliates, the Boy Scouts of America and its for-profit, commercial enterprises. It went so far as to define “employer” and believe it or not, none of those for-profit businesses are employers, not even the BSA. So, membership definitions are critical.
Do you see the ridiculousness of what CMV/SB54 is imposing on a private organization?
The second point in this confused comment is that with SB54, the legislature rescued the party from losing the caucus to CMV. This is nonsense. CMV was nearing a deadline and did not have nearly enough signatures to get on the ballot. They knew it and so it is precisely the opposite: SB54 rescued CMV.
(As an aside, as with any election process that involves petitioning, there were improprieties involved in the CMV petitions. That should be a forewarning of what we can expect if unaffiliated candidates are allowed to petition on to a ballot. Just ask states that use this dual process.)
What the sponsor of SB54 (Senator Curt Bramble) did was to ensure that the dual track, described in the original 2013 CMV legal brief, was enshrined in law through the legislative process. If not, why then are the CMV proponents working so hard against the lawsuit? It’s just tragic that most legislators probably had not seen that original CMV legal brief. I have a copy if anyone is interested.
Lobbyists Love CMV
So Webb and Pignanelli say we should stop this discussion before we embarrass ourselves further.
Webb and Pignanelli are no doubt excellent lobbyists, media buyers and political consultants. They support CMV/SB54 because it favors incumbents, celebrity and money (their clients) – and more of them. The majority of the legislature supported CMV/SB54 to protect their own re-election.
It’s the Little Guy (you and me – the People) against the Big Guy. Webb, Pignanelli and the legislature can control the outcome with CMV/SB54.
Most people do not have time, or lack the interest, to get involved in political campaigns. For this reason, the U.S. Constitution guarantees every state a representative republic – not a democracy in Article IV.
The caucus is just that – a constitutional system that is defined by a representative republican form of government election system.
On the other hand, CMV/SB54 is the elitist-lobbyist system that most states have adopted that favor and fuel runaway socialist budgets. The liberal DC lobbyists that have been backing Utah’s CMV/SB54 use California, Colorado and Connecticut as their models.
It’s to a lobbyist or political consultant’s advantage to keep the election among the people least involved and informed so that the unaffiliated can dictate to those that are most involved and informed and affiliated. Why? Because in a primary, name ID will win nearly every time. That means an incumbent advantage. Lobbyists love incumbents. They keep the money rolling in.
The Republican Party is a private corporation that is guaranteed the unalienable right to assemble freely and unfettered. Yet the Utah legislature gave CMV/SB54 authority to lobbyists and themselves to dictate how a private corporation elects its representatives and allows those who are not members of that private corporation to steal its trademark by petition.
Fair Is Fair, Right?
Perhaps the legislature can now use those same principles against other private corporations such as Webb’s Exoro Group and Foxley & Pignanelli to tell them we don’t like how they do their business. We don’t like their clients, one of which is the Chamber of Commerce, because they support amnesty and common core which violate the platform. And we don’t like Overstock, the corporation that funded $50,000 to legalize same sex marriage in Utah. We want to tell them who their clients can or cannot be, and we want to use their name to do it.
These lobbyists want the Republican Party to stop its defense of out of self-interest. They fail to acknowledge that the Idaho Republican Party pressed forward to win for the voice of the people against the elite after losing its injunction.
The First Amendment and What Accountability Has to Do With It
This legal challenge is a serious constitutional First Amendment and trademark question: Does a private corporation have the right to freely assemble and choose its principles, membership, leadership and voting process, all in alignment with Article 4, guaranting the states and its people a republican form of government?
If so, then how does the party maintain its platform (its “articles of faith”) and what is the process of membership qualification, and once a member, what is the process of holding their feet to the fire, especially the candidates we vetted and elected.
Senator Todd Weiler and a few others are squirming right now because they know they are among the Republicans that vote with the Democrats half the time. And so, lies and legends are covering up the real issue: those that favor CMV/SB54 do so because they do not want to be held accountable.
And that’s the truth.
For more truth, go to Fair Elections Utah, compiled by one of our colleagues, Representative Fred Cox, with whom I serve on the State Central Committee.