In May, I relayed information on miffed political insiders’ first move to kill the caucus system which provides common citizens the advantage over big money interests and political elites. In my May post, I included an annotated email from the political power brokers who, anointing themselves “Mainstream Republicans”, gathered at the Alta Club in an effort to retain their influence/power. I noted several options that they would float and updated the post through October as new plans arose.
In August, LaVarr Webb and Kirk Jowers teamed up with the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce (fellow Alta Club meeting attendees) to further garner support for their cause (specifically catering to the Chamber’s select group in the “Capitol Club” – essentially the biggest business leaders and donors) . At that point they were pushing for Plan B (lower caucus threshold to force a primary) or Plan C.
Now Mike Leavitt and his Leavitt Group (also Alta Club meeting attendees) with Webb and Jowers under the guise of “Alliance for Good Government” and the Utah Foundation (see the “aside” below) are shifting to Plan C:
The plan — formulated by Webb, Leavitt, Leavitt’s former chief of staff Rich McKeown, and Hinckley Institute of Politics director Kirk Jowers — would let candidates circumvent the party convention system by gathering enough signatures to go directly to the primary ballot.
First, remember that people can already be placed on the general election ballot by gathering signatures. The primary ballot idea would do two things: lower the ultimate threshold required to get on the ballot and play right into the hands of big, organized, well-funded political interest groups and political insiders. Gathering signatures is a labor intensive and expensive process. For the general election it is even tough for large, well organized groups to get the required signatures, but lower the amount they need…and their money and organizational capabilities become far more focused and effective.
Let me close by reiterating my August warning:
Be on your best guard. The best thing that could happen for high powered political players and big donors would be to push influence from citizens and their neighborhoods firmly into territory where their money and influence have a greater impact: primaries and general elections. The best thing for the run-of-the mill political nobody is to preserve the ability to elect their neighbor or themselves to represent their values and neutralize the big players in the process.
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An aside: The Tribune article also mentions a “Utah Foundation” study. The Foundation board includes several SL Chamber of Commerce members and businesses that were represented at the Alta Club along with Lane Beattie (also purported to have attended the Alta Club meeting). Besides the obvious conflict of interest on the caucus matter, it is worth noting that the foundation also produces various “quality of life” studies. These tend to be used as justifications for tax increases, increases in government spending, and government programs that tend to benefit business (crony capitalism, in my book). The Chamber is also the 2006 recipient of an ATR “Enemy of the Taxpayer” Award. Succinctly stated, the “quality of life” buzzword is the local equivalent to the federal “general welfare” clause as a justification for any type of government spending and programs.