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Paul Rolly: Spending problem? Utah GOP is in the red

Published October 1, 2013 7:58 pm

Column • State party seeking donations from county affiliates.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Utah Republican Party is flush with elected officeholders and, outside of Salt Lake City, dominates every aspect of political life.

But financially? Not so much.

The state party is $90,000 in debt and has held up the equivalent of a cardboard "please help" sign to the county parties for assistance.

The GOP committees in the larger counties have been hit up by the state party for their share of the Check-A-Buck program that allows taxpayers to donate from their tax returns to the political party of their choice.

That request caused much dissension at a recent meeting of the Utah County Republican Central Committee, which eventually voted to let the state party keep its Check-A-Buck share, roughly $5,000.

State GOP Chairman James Evans says the party drained its funds in the past election cycle, arguing, "If we had money on hand that we didn't spend and Mia Love lost by only 700 votes, there would be some explaining to do."

He said the party went into the red because of investments in new technology that put all the county parties on the same page and develops a database that will benefit all of them.

Evans said the debt is temporary and that the party still expects to collect thousands of dollars' worth of donor commitments.

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Mom to the rescue • Republican Sen. Mike Lee has been using the boogeyman of Obamacare and his crusade to stop it at all costs to scare people into donating to his campaign fund.

Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson has a different strategy to raise money.

It's Mom.

His mother, former Utah first lady Norma Matheson, has made a direct appeal to potential donors on behalf of her boy.

"I don't normally do this," she wrote in a recent fundraising email, "Jim needs your help. Will you please help Jim by giving a gift today?"

And the congressman himself felt compelled to write a follow-up email to supporters.

"I wanted to make sure you saw my mom's email from yesterday," he wrote. "It means so much to have her helping the campaign."

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Being redundant? Cindy Arnold sent an email Tuesday to her congressman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, expressing her disappointment about the shutdown of the federal government because Chaffetz and his fellow Republicans held the budget hostage to stop Obamacare.

This was his reply: "Thank you for contacting me. Due to the government-wide shutdown as a result of a lapse in appropriations, my office is closed and I am unable to respond to email or voice messages."

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Too much of a good thing? When the Republican Attorney Generals Association noticed that the Conference of Western Attorneys General had scheduled an educational data security and privacy conference for Oct. 2-4, it must have decided, for the sake of efficiency, to hold its own meetings during the three days before the CWAG gathering at the same location.

And what location would that be?

The Ritz-Carlton at the Kapalua resort on Maui, Hawaii.

Utah Attorney General John Swallow, of course, is there. He is moderating a panel discussion during the CWAG conference and has set up a public-lands meeting with other top prosecutors.

He just couldn't miss all the valuable information he would pick up at the three-day RAGA convention.

The two associations picked up the cost of his stay. He paid for his wife to come along.

prolly@sltrib.com