Chris Herrod on: Throwing fellow Republicans under the bus.

I’ve often found Utah Politics “troubling” at times. I’ve always thought that Utah should have a higher standard of politics, for the news media, and especially for honesty, but unfortunately, I’ve often been disappointed. There seems to almost be a “Porter Rockwell” mentality, where as long as people view their cause as just then anything goes … after all … “if Porter Rockwell could do it, why can’t I?”

With yesterday’s (2/24/15) defeat of SB 43 Substitute Changes to Election Law (Sen. Scott Jenkins) that would have delayed the implantation of SB 54 until 2016 so that basic 1st Amendment Constitutional questions could be settled in court, Doug Wrght’s interview with Senator Bramble is once again relevant (Doug Wright Show, 2nd Hour, February 10, 2015). Doug and Senator Bramble used the word “troubling” to describe the Republican Party’s efforts to delay implementation of SB 54, and even kill it.

So Let’s carefully analyze the facts and see just whose actions really are “troubling.”

Senator Bramble stated:

During the Debate on SB 54 last year, Representative Dan McKay and I met with the Utah State Republican Central Committee for several hours in a meeting in Provo and presented the basis … the rationale and the previsions of SB 54 – The Central Committee did not take a vote on SB 54 or vote to oppose it at that time. Now, revisionist history, there are those in the party that say they clearly opposed it.   They had the opportunity to take action.

Let’s take a look at revisionist history as Bramble describes it.

The SCC did take action and passed unanimously a resolution declaring the Party’s right to defend their Constitutional rights in court. I’m not sure how much more specific the SCC could be. It’ doesn’t take a savant to understand the intent of the resolution – silence cannot be construed as consent for SB 54 If the CMV Initiative or SB 54 passed, the Republican Party was preparing to sue … and Doug Wright acts surprised that the party eventually sued. (LINK HERE)

Many SCC members remained silent on SB 54 because, as Senator Bramble described it, SB 54 was clearly unconstitutional. Since Bramble stated SB 54 was non-severable, passage of SB 54 was seen by some as easier to beat in court than the initiative since only one part of SB 54 had to be ruled unconstitutional for the entire law to be thrown out.

In other words, MANY SCC MEMBERS DIDN’T ACTIVELY OPPOSE SB 54 BECAUSE THEY TRUSTED BRAMBLE WHEN HE SAID IT WAS LESS OF THREAT THAN THE INITIATIVE!!!! And yet once it was discovered that SB 54 was in many cases worse than the initiative, it was too late for the SCC to take an official position against SB 54.   Bramble knowing this, now claims that if the SCC had objections, they shouldn’t have actively opposed SB 54 from the beginning (despite getting information from Bramble in the first place!) That’s classic Bramble, and, what’s caused so much ire in Utah County Politics for years.

When specifically asked, Bramble also told members that the party would still maintain its right to control its primary if it so chose. If the Initiative or SB 54 passed, many SCC members thought the party could simply pay for its own primary or narrow the candidate to one nominee in convention. SB 54 forbids both of these options.

In full disclosure, I believe that the SCC made a terrible mistake in not actively fighting SB 54 from the very beginning. I spoke out against remaining silent on SB 54 and testified against SB 54 on Capitol Hill … I believe that a straight-up fight is always the best and most honest approach (as most conservatives that I know do as well) rather than say one thing to this group and something else to another.   If CMV got the votes to be on the ballot (and the GOP couldn’t remove enough) then the CMV cabal deserved the right to be on the ballot. The Republican Party would have then had the right to try to remove enough signatures to make the initiative fail or take it to court if the initiative passed. But, I failed to convince my fellow SCC members that such a strategy and trusting Bramble was unwise.

But to say that the strategy was dumb, is not the same as saying that the SCC has a moral obligation to uphold a compromise they were not a part, or, to refuse to try to undo a horrible bill once the consequences of the bill are fully known. This is especially true if the silence of the SCC was based on a faulty representation by Senator Bramble.   The SCC took Bramble at his word that SB 54 was non- severable and, that the Republican Party could still maintain its primary.

Who would have thought that one would have to give up rights to keep its legal name on the ballot?   I’m still baffled that in Utah a private organization has to obtain permission to use its own name on the ballot without surrendering its rights of association.

When asked about whether the legislature would “honor” the supposed legislative compromise of SB 54, Bramble said:

I have confidence in my colleagues now …  My confidence goes to the integrity of my colleges and their honoring the agreement that we made … I think that it is appropriate for those that believe that compromise should be upheld to step up and voice their opinion… I certainly wouldn’t give up the faith now that the legislature is going to repeal SB 54.   Personally, I don’t believe that we are going to go down that road … the legislature will uphold the agreement that we entered into. 

So now, despite failing to tell his colleagues how he got much of the SCC to remain silent, Bramble is evoking “legislative integrity” (not quite sure that’s my definition of integrity) to his colleagues so that they resist repealing or even delaying SB 54 while Constitutional Rights are heard in court.

So, let’s put it another way … so, even though there was no integrity in front of the SCC, integrity is expected in other parts of the process. That’s so “Bramble”—and yet the media gives him a pass.

Although I have great respect for most legislators, many of them have been duped by Bramble. Most legislators are honest, and, if most knew what had been said to the SCC, they would feel embarrassed that their votes in support of SB 54 are now seen as endorsing Bramble’s antics by the rank and file.

To me, it is the Audacity of Power – Bramble simply expected others get out of the way and fall in line behind him. He expected to get away with saying something despite a whole room of SCC members hearing clearly what was said. And, he assumed that the mainstream media would be too afraid of him not to check the facts (or just ignore them), because their editorial board supports Count-My-Vote’s objectives.

Doug Wright even went so far as to vouch for Bramble when Senator Bramble said SB 54 was actually put forward to “save the caucus” (the ol’ “you have to destroy the caucus to save the caucus” argument – which I still can’t comprehend) and that a compromise was needed. (What for? And again, the party wasn’t even involved). Doug went on to say:

I see absolutely no revisionist history happening on your part or on Count-My-Vote’s part. I am seeing it happen elsewhere and it troubles me.

What due diligence has Doug done? Has Doug talked to a single SCC member? If not, is that not journalistic malpractice? By remaining silent on the issue, Doug Wright, the Deseret News, it’s editorial board, KSL Radio, and all of the Deseret Media Group, are in essence also giving tacit approval of Senator Bramble’s tactics.

Oh. And, by the way, while nearly 200 witnesses should be enough for the media, and Doug Wright, to question, the media doesn’t have to take their word for it. Not long ago, my colleague received a package in the mail without a return address on it. It contained a thumb drive with an audio recording of the SCC meeting on it, where Bramble can be heard making his presentation.

By the way, I’ve still never seen a retraction or correction, for Doug Wright’s blatant mistaking and misrepresentation of the facts, and slamming the Republican Party for not keeping some promises with the Contract with America with Chairmanship term-limits.

And KSL’s tag line is now, “KSL News Radio – Everything we do is news!” So much for journalistic integrity.

-CHRIS HERROD