This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Some eyebrows have shot up in Utah's legal community over a letter an Idaho attorney sent to Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans advising him on ways to go forward in light of the GOP's legal battle over the state's candidate-nominating laws.
The attorney, Christ Troupis, is not licensed to practice law in Utah, and if he is giving legal advice in an active case in Utah courts, that could violate bar rules in the Beehive and Gem states, some legal experts warn.
Troupis, cited as an election-law expert in Idaho, responded to a request for a legal interpretation of the Utah GOP's responsibilities to qualify as a party under state law.
In a Jan. 4 letter, Troupis wrote that the party must file by March 1, 2016, who can vote in its primary election. The GOP already has deemed that to participate in the primary, voters and candidates must abide by the party's constitution and bylaws, which require a candidate to go through the caucus/convention nominating system, not just the petition gathering path.
Despite the fact the Utah lieutenant governor's office has said that primary ballots will include candidates who gather enough signatures, Troupis wrote that "it will not be possible for county clerks to validate signatures, or for the lieutenant governor or county clerks to certify any UTGOP candidate as having met the required signature threshold."
That sure sounds like legal advice relevant to an active lawsuit, so if Evans plans to use that argument in his legal battle, perhaps he needs to transfer the case to Boise.
Biting one's own hand • The Utah GOP recently filed a second lawsuit, claiming that because a federal judge in its first lawsuit ruled that the party does not have to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in its primary, it's now too hard for some GOP candidates to gather enough signatures to qualify.
It presents an unconstitutional burden on Republican candidates to qualify for the ballot, the new lawsuit argues.
Before the ruling by U.S. District Judge David Nuffer, candidates choosing the petition process needed a certain number of signatures of registered voters in their districts to qualify. But Nuffer ruled the GOP can restrict participation to registered Republicans, shrinking the pool from which candidates can gather signatures. So instead of needing, say, 5 percent of the registered voters in a district, the required number would comprise a much higher percentage when counting just registered Republicans.
Here's the rub: The GOP's first lawsuit, resulting in that ruling, created the problem of the higher burden in the first place. So Utah's Republican Party is acting against the interests of its own candidates and now says it is a victim of its own doing.
How pure must one be? • Under the tutelage of Chairman Craig Frank, the Utah County Republican Party now requires prospective GOP candidates to fill out a "candidate fitness form" in which they answer questions to ensure thy are abiding by the rules and bylaws required to be a true Republican.
The candidates, including incumbents, then must submit to interviews with selected party leaders.
What's interesting about this is that Frank is a registered lobbyist. His clients are listed as the Utah Association for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and the Early College Alliance.
His wife, Kim Frank, heads a charter school association and is a registered lobbyist for the Utah Charter Network.
So candidates, including sitting legislators, must interview with Frank or his designates to be judged on their Republican worthiness while also being lobbied by Frank on behalf of his clients.
I'm wondering: Will the purity test probe a legislative candidate's attitudes toward acupuncturists and charter schools?