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Rolly: Candidate for Utah GOP boss wants party purity reviews for lawmakers

Published May 12, 2017 12:06 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This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Ronald Reagan, we hardly knew ye.

Or maybe you would hardly recognize us.

The 40th U.S. president, a hero to many Republicans, pushed the "big tent" notion in which his party would welcome folks from various backgrounds and ideologies.

That dream, in today's GOP, has been reduced to a pup tent.

The latest proposal to ensure the party purity of elected officials comes from Phill Wright, a candidate for chairman of the Utah GOP.

He posted on Facebook that if he is elected at the state convention May 20, he would form a review committee to examine the votes of Utah's Republican legislators and congressional members to see whether they comport with the GOP platform.

The committee would interview those elected officials and discuss which votes backed the platform and which went awry. The interviews then would be posted on the party's website.

That idea isn't going down too well with some Republican lawmakers, who see it as intimidation to control legislators' voting decisions and ensure that they stay obedient. Perhaps every platform tenet is not always the right way to go, they argue.

Wright told me it is an effort to bring more transparency and keep delegates informed about how their elected officials vote. Most of the time, he said, the votes would agree with what the delegates had decided for the platform and make the officials look good. It would encourage the delegates to contact the officials and thank them for their service.

Wright, currently vice chairman of the party, is running against incumbent Chairman James Evans and outgoing Davis County GOP leader Rob Anderson.

His purity test seems to take a page out of recently defeated Utah County GOP Chairman Craig Frank's playbook. Frank proposed Republican candidates in the county fill out forms to confirm their commitment to party principles and meet with a committee appointed by Frank.

Wonder if Reagan would pass that test?

Speaking of party platforms • Jeremy Roberts is a Republican activist in Utah County who recently put leaders of the county GOP on notice that he may sue them over the way they let a Frank ally take home the ballots from the county convention pending a recount on the votes for state Central Committee candidates.

He has some history with the Utah County GOP.

Roberts, just for fun, ran for Utah County Republican Party secretary in 2011.

His platform, which he posted on his website and Republican social media sites, included opening a cat dairy where cats would be milked daily. He also proposed putting a family of dolphins in Utah Lake, creating an eco-tourism attraction to boost the county economy. He pitched a feral cat theme park and embraced goat sacrifices to ward off evil spirits — like Democrats — that might harm the Republican Party.

So how did the delegates react to that mania?

They elected him.

He eventually was ousted by the county's GOP executive committee for not coming to meetings on time and keeping sloppy minutes. He suspects the real reason for the dismissal was his support for a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and apply for legal work permits.

If only they had been dolphins.

Turning a new leaf? • Provo mayoral candidate Sherrie Hall Everett has assured voters she is committed to civility in politics.

A recent campaign flyer contains a "civility pledge" that lists three promises:

• "I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.

• "I will be respectful of others, whether or not I agree with them.

• "I will stand against incivility where and when I see it."

That's the same Sherrie Hall Everett who has been called on to resign her position as vice chairwoman of the Utah Transit Authority Board for her alleged, well, incivility.

New UTA board member Brent Taylor, who is mayor of North Ogden, recently called for the resignation of Everett and UTA Board Chairman Robert McKinley for what he described as unprofessional behavior, including a Facebook attack on Taylor.

After Taylor, a self-described reformer, wrote to other board members complaining about Everett's attack on him, she later apologized.

Her original post scoffed at Taylor and insisted she, too, was a reformer. "I just believe in doing it with integrity, transparency and respect."

And from now on, with civility.

Available Jones • Salt Lake City resident Debbie Anderson called Gov. Gary Herbert's office last Friday to register her support for keeping Bears Ears National Monument.

The receptionist transferred her to the "constituents' line," which was a recording that told her to leave her name and number and someone would call her back.

She never got a return call.

A few days later, she called the governor's office again and asked whom she should contact to give a campaign contribution to Herbert. She immediately was transferred to a live person, but hung up before that aide could get details of her so-called donation.







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