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Rolly: If money talks, Utah GOP is losing to its own legislators

First Published      Last Updated Mar 14 2017 03:03 am

Now that the Legislature has wrapped up for another year, most of the lawmakers — who once again did little to address air pollution — have departed Salt Lake City and its wintertime inversions.

Those in Utah County, where all 18 legislators are Republicans, will continue their uneasy relationship with their party's officers, who led the move to press on with the lawsuit against the Republican-dominated Legislature's Count My Vote compromise bill to allow for different paths to the primary ballot.

To measure which side — the legislators' or the party officers' — most Republicans side with, here is a comparison:

When the Utah County Republican Party held its annual Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser, it sold 11 tables. It raised about $12,000 and spent $13,000 for a net loss of $1,000.

The Utah County Republican Legislative PAC had its own fundraising dinner just before the legislative session began in January. It sold more than 40 tables, raising about $70,000.

So much for purity tests to determine who are the real Republicans.

Kiss of death • If you, as a legislator, have a strong opinion about selecting judges, don't express it in an opinion piece in The Salt Lake Tribune, especially if it has to do with judicial nominations and ethnicity.

Your cause will die a slow, painful death.

Shortly before last fall's election, the Utah Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission recommended that 3rd District Judge Su Chon not be retained.

That led then-Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, to do a victory lap, so to speak, in a Tribune op-ed.

Jenkins served on the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee when Gov. Gary Herbert nominated Chon to the bench. She was the first minority nominated by Herbert to be a judge.

The confirmation panel recommended Chon not be confirmed by the Senate, citing her lack of trial experience. The full Senate confirmed her anyway.

Jenkins wanted to remind everybody how right he and the rest of the committee were in the first place, and he reiterated that she should not be retained.

On Election Day, voters retained Chon.

Fast-forward a few months to late February, when the Legislature was considering a bill by Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, that would ban nominating committees from considering race or gender in deciding whom to recommend for a judgeship. After his bill passed the House, Nelson wrote an op-ed Feb. 25 arguing for his measure because considering race or gender amounted to discrimination.

Two days later, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Nelson's bill to the trash heap.

First responders in reel time • David Grumwald and his wife were watching the movie "Logan" in a South Salt Lake theater when a man with a young family sitting next to them collapsed, lost consciousness and appeared to stop breathing. His wife ran for help and immediately the theater's lights were turned on and the movie was stopped.

A South Salt Lake police officer, who was at the theater complex doing a security check, helped the man along with a movie patron wearing a Gold Cross Ambulance T-shirt.

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