Remember some years ago folks like Kirk Jowers, Scott Anderson, Natalie Gochnour, Lavarr Webb, former Governor Mike Leavitt and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce plotted to kill off the caucus system. While they were unable to entirely destroy the system, they came up with a means to effectively neutralize it:
Both Jowers and LaVarr Webb spoke in an effort to convince attendees at a meeting of influential Utahns to get rid of the caucus system or neutralize it with a guaranteed primary.
As I warned in that same post:
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…
They publicly portrayed their motive for this as a way to ‘increase public participation in the process’. Really, it was to consolidate power into the hands of the political class and their corporate cronies (“the swamp”) and line their pockets in the process.
I had a first hand witness of it in action this weekend. I volunteered to help a conservative incumbent candidate gather signatures to ensure that she would be on the primary ballot since her challenger is collecting signatures. She opted to keep her campaign on a grass-roots level, asking for citizen help to gather signatures. By contrast, her opponent hired a firm appropriately named “Gather” to get her required 1,000 signatures using paid signature gathers (essentially a bounty).
Going house-to-house is a lengthy, fairly unproductive process as many folks aren’t home, have moved, won’t open their door to strangers, etc. etc. It takes a lot of time to gather a handful of signatures. It’s why signature gathering firms charge a bunch for each signature they get. Using volunteers sacrificing their limited time (we all have day jobs and families) is the right thing to do (despite this being a swamp-designed process), but it’s tough. Meanwhile, paid gatherers use employees who don’t sacrifice their free time and have a far more time to gather signatures. Thus, most candidates pay for signature gathering.
This results in incumbents using cash showered upon them by lobbyists to pay for political consultants/signature firms, higher campaign overhead and putting less effort on the citizen-driven caucus. Those challenging incumbents either use their own funds or sell their souls in order to obtain the money required to pay the signature gatherers. The swamp becomes the driver and their ‘key constituents’. Common citizens and non-swamp anointed candidates are all but shut out of the process. All this must have Jowers, Webb and their consultant-class swamp cronies beaming…and enjoying fatter wallets.
As far as I’m concerned, they’re just a bunch of political grifters*. They run their virtue signaling sophistry about increasing public participation in elections but they’re quite clear on what they think of the public outside of their clique. In my book, they’re equivalent to the Bill Kristol/Rick Wilson ‘Bullwark liberals’ who’ve been exposed of what amounts to pretending to be conservative so they can sell cruise tickets to the rubes.
As I thought about this after returning home, it struck me that there would be a fun way to expose their true intents. I need to convince a legislator to run a bill that makes a tiny change to the current primary signature rules. Best of all it would meet their so-called goal of increasing public participation. That bill would require that all primary ballot petition signatures be gathered by volunteers and no compensation in-kind or otherwise could be exchanged for signatures.
It’s already illegal to pay for votes. Why not for signatures? Plus, requiring the use of volunteer signature gatherers ensures actual public participation in the political process.
Care to wager what the Jowers-Webb-Chamber of Commerce swamp class will do if someone introduces this bill? The head explosions alone will blow the dome off the capitol!
*The urban dictionary definition of “grifter” is great: “A Grifter, is somebody who can influence anybody, anywhere, at anytime, into doing whatever they choose to have them do, that will result in the grifter’s personal gain. Usually monetary, but really anything that benefits him or her somehow.