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Rolly: Some lobbyist giving is more noble than others

Published December 11, 2012 5:17 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A KSL-TV story Monday about the exorbitant amount of money the Utah Transit Authority spends on lobbyists, and the money those lobbyists have given to legislators and other public officials, included a quote from outgoing Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins saying he opposed the practice.

This would be the same Scott Jenkins who contacted most of the well-known lobbyists at the Legislature last September and urged them to come to his fundraiser and to bring checks from themselves and their clients.

"They're spending millions," Jenkins told KSL reporter John Daley about the lobbying for UTA. "It's just not right when they can pick up the phone and call us, anytime."

To be fair, Jenkins was responding to the idea that UTA is a publicly funded entity spending millions of those publicly generated dollars to lobby other public institutions.

And, as Daley's report pointed out, Jenkins tried to pass a bill banning public entities from spending public money to lobby government officials but didn't get support from other lawmakers.

Jenkins' campaign fund-raiser attracted lobbyists bearing checks from such entities as the NUCOR PAC, the Manufactures Association PAC, Rio Tinto, the Workers Comp Fund, Rocky Mountain Power and Zions Bank. It begs the question whether those organizations get more attention from the senator.

The event garnered about $17,000, bringing Jenkins' total to $83,000 as of his last financial report.

Jenkins, who unsuccessfully ran for Senate president in November, also shared the benefits of his position as majority leader with his family.

His wife, Becky, hosted a sales presentation for a magic cleaning cloth for other Senate wives, to whom she referred as her "Senate sisters" in her invitation, in the Senate Rules Committee room during the Legislatures interim committee day in August.

But even though not formally invited, anybody else probably could have come into the room and bought a magic cleaning cloth.

Fair-weather friends • Here is a candidate for most disingenuous compliment of the year award:

After Democratic Rep. Christine Watkins, of Price, announced she was switching to the Republican Party after legislative gerrymandering knocked her out of the Legislature this election, State Republican Chairman Thomas Wright issued a statement Tuesday about what a great asset she is.

"The Utah Republican Party welcomes Representative Christine Watkins and all others who share the conservative vision of making Utah a great place to live, work and raise a family," said Wright. "Her years of experience in education, understanding of rural Utah and commitment to Utah's public lands will be a valuable asset to the Republican Party."

But her years of experience in education, understanding of rural Utah and commitment to Utah's public lands were not of much value to the Republicans when she was a Democrat.

She is the same person with the same values as she was a month ago, but now she is valuable.

In fact, the Utah Republican Party was involved in the redistricting last year that changed her district to make it nearly impossible for her to win as a Democrat.

They manipulate the process to beat her, then they praise her when she gives up and joins their ranks.

prolly@sltrib.com