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Rolly: Attention GOP conspiracy kooks: Obama-led radicals posing as Mormon Sunday school teachers

Published February 23, 2017 2:20 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Jeremy Grimshaw and his wife, Kristen, drove from their Payson home to attend the Cottonwood Heights town hall meeting Rep. Jason Chaffetz hosted at Brighton High School, Kristen's alma mater.

The couple arrived early and waited in line between "some nice middle-age housewives from Sandy and some students from Utah County," Jeremy said. When the doors opened, the Grimshaws found seats on an aisle, about 10 rows from the stage.

At one point, a KSL-TV camera operator walked up the aisle taking video of the crowd and captured Jeremy and Kristen chanting "Do your job."

The clip made it onto the station's coverage that night.

A few days later, Jeremy heard from friends that they had seen him on Fox News. After some digging, he found a "Fox & Friends" segment interviewing a "guest expert," New York Post columnist and oft-debunked conspiracy theorist Paul Sperry, alleging that former President Barack Obama had organized a shadow organization to infiltrate Republican town hall gatherings.

During the interview, Fox showed a split screen with Sperry on one side and the Grimshaws on the other.

"There we were," Jeremy said, "my piano teacher/primary chorister wife and her music professor/Sunday school teacher husband in a dorky short-sleeved button down, both of us Utah natives and Chaffetz constituents, and the caption: 'ARMY OF AGITATORS.' "

Fanning the flames • Utah GOP Chairman James Evans has parroted the assertions that town hall protesters are violent paid infiltrators.

Evans has called on Republicans to delay holding such sessions because of the danger. He sent an email to fellow party members warning of a vast conspiracy to disrupt the meetings, and GOP Facebook streams have fanned the flames of such conspiracy talk.

When Utahn John Miller posted a rebuttal to that idea on the Republican Party Facebook page, his and similar posts were mysteriously removed.

Perhaps it's time to raid the Relief Society rooms and Sunday school offices of the Mormon meetinghouses in Payson to find and remove these underground radicals once and for all.

Doing his job • Chaffetz says he plans to launch an investigation into Bryce Canyon's tweet cheering the creation of Bears Ears National Monument and showing an open slot for maps of the newly designated area. He wants to see if the southern Utah park knew before the decision was publicly announced.

So should Chaffetz also investigate himself since he tweeted about the FBI "reopening" an investigation of Democrat Hillary Clinton's emails before that became public? He was among the congressional members whom Director James Comey alerted, but his "reopening" comment was misleading and created an air of suspicion that proved to be meaningless.

And will he investigate former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said on several talk shows that the Trump campaign had something up its sleeve that would rock the election days before Comey made that announcement?

Don't hold your breath.

Then and now • The Beehive State boasts an interesting history when it comes to protests.

After the disruptive campus demonstrations at the University of Utah during the Vietnam War, the school's student government turned conservative by the mid-1970s and elected leaders were a button-down group advocating such things as campus dress codes and scrutiny of professors who might be teaching subversive ideas.

Then, in 1978, a group of "radical misfits" on campus decided to run two write-in candidates against the conservative Associated Students of the University of Utah government.

And the misfits won. Where are those misfits now?

Well, David Spatafore is a longtime lobbyist at the Legislature. Scott Howell is a former state senator and two-time Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate. Harris Simmons is CEO of Zions Bancorp. Patrice Arent is a Utah legislator. Bryson Garbett is a developer and former legislator. Tom Smart is a retired photographer for the Deseret News. Bonnie Jean Matthews (now Beesley) is an executive with Envision Utah. The late David Watson was a Salt Lake County commissioner.

The misfits elected Craig Harmon, now a physician for Intermountain Healthcare, as student-body president and Mark Mabey, a developer, as vice president.







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