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Gehrke: Utah GOP softens on delegate fee at convention to replace Chaffetz

First Published      Last Updated Jun 02 2017 08:21 pm

The Utah Republican Party is softening its requirement that delegates voting on a replacement for Rep. Jason Chaffetz pay $20 to attend the special convention later this month — but just a little.

In an email to party members Thursday, the newly elected party Chairman Rob Anderson said that the registration fee is not mandatory, but is a "highly encouraged donation."

However, nobody who wants to attend the event is able to register via the link provided without entering credit card information and making the $20 "encouraged donation" to the party.

Anderson told me Wednesday that he was implementing the registration fee for the first time in the state party's history because of the dire financial situation he inherited from his predecessor, James Evans.




In addition to about $130,000 in outstanding debt and another $308,000 in legal debt from the party's ongoing fight against SB54 — which created a signature-gathering path to the ballot — Anderson said the party also bounced $30,000 in checks written to vendors for the just-held annual party convention.

Charging delegates, who are chosen at caucus meetings to represent their neighborhoods, for the right to vote for the party's preferred nominee to replace Chaffetz might look like a poll tax, which is expressly prohibited in any election, under the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

But Anderson says it's not a poll tax, and he may be able to make that argument if the donation truly is optional.

But if we start with the premise that more involvement and broader participation in choosing our elected officials is a good thing, anything that discourages participation should be looked at with deep skepticism.

gehrke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @RobertGehrke

 

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