This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Last week, the former chairman of the small Utah-born Independent American Party criticized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for denouncing the armed seizure of a federal wildlife refuge by a group of Mormons and others.
Kelly Gneiting, in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, compared the occupation in Oregon by Western ranchers with the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution.
I remember Gneiting from the not too distant past and his interesting relationship with the LDS Church.
Gneiting headed the Independent American Party in 2013, when Mormons in the Millcreek Second Ward received fliers inviting them to the LDS meetinghouse to learn about the fledgling party.
The handout included quotes from former Mormon leaders, including church founder Joseph Smith, prophesying about the LDS faithful saving the U.S. Constitution, which would be hanging by a thread.
That led J.L. Mealer, an independent gubernatorial candidate in Arizona whose campaign was loosely tied to the Independent American Party, to distance himself from that coalition, saying Mormons were welcome in his home, "but this crazy stuff must be left at the doormat."
That column also prompted LDS officials to remind their local leaders that political meetings are not to be held in church buildings.
Who's pulling the strings? • An op-ed piece in Wednesday's Tribune by Ryan M. Yonk and Josh Smith attacked premises made by a renewable-energy advocate, but failed to mention the authors' ties to the billionaire Koch brothers, the petrochemical giants who spend millions to fight green-based energy programs and to elect candidates who favor their causes.
Yonk is described as an assistant research professor in economics at Utah State University and executive director of academics at Strata, a public policy think tank in Logan. Smith is a student research associate at Strata.
Strata was in the news recently as one of the companies hired by the Utah Legislature to promote the state's efforts to wrest control of 31 million acres of public land from the federal government. The Legislature is committing up to $14 million of taxpayer money for that effort.
Randy Simmons runs Strata Policy and was the Charles G. Koch professor of political economy at Utah State from 2008 to 2013. He also is a senior fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center, which is funded by the Kochs and Exxon Mobil.
He wrote a Newsweek op-ed attacking wind power that was so heavily criticized for its inaccuracies the magazine wrote a follow-up piece with corrections.
Simmons also supervises a Koch-funded USU scholarship program. The Koch Foundation gave USU nearly $700,000 to establish a program for undergraduates to enroll and learn about Charles Koch's "Science of Liberty" management theory.
The Kochs have given millions to set up academic centers to teach their political and economic philosophies.