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Paul Rolly: Bad blood still coursing through Utah County GOP

Published February 14, 2014 11:21 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Someone in the Utah County GOP should stand up in front of all the party regulars before the neighborhood caucuses are held in March and ask, "Can't we all just get along?"

Here is the latest in the saga: Utah County Republicans are sticking fingers in the eyes of other Utah County Republicans.

On the heels of anonymous signs popping up that targeted former Rep. Holly Richardson on the eve of the Pleasant Grove Republican's kickoff to her campaign to reclaim a legislative seat, a Utah County GOP official is suing another Utah County Republican.

It all started last December, when the county GOP's vice chairman, Daryl Acumen, complained to the party's audit committee that one of its members, Julie Blaney, had allegedly pocketed a $1,000 check intended as a donation to the GOP.

The audit committee's chairman, attorney Matthew Duffin, took umbrage and is now representing Blaney in a slander suit against Acumen in Orem's Justice Court.

Duffin and Acumen exchanged emails before the lawsuit was filed. Duffin demanded Acumen retract statements that Blaney misdirected funds intended for the county party.

Duffin maintains that the $1,000 check in question, from Mark Patey, was not a donation to the party, but was for the printing of U.S. Constitution booklets being produced by Blaney's business partner, Loy Brunson.

In fact, Patey wrote a letter to the county GOP's chairman, Casey Voeks, confirming that he had made it clear he was not interested in donating to the party, but did want to contribute to production of the Constitution booklets in time for distribution at last year's Freedom Concert in Utah County.

"My donation to Julie Blaney in the amount of $1,000 was for printing of the Constitution booklets to be given out where and when she felt appropriate," Patey wrote.

It "was intended to promote the Constitution, which sadly is something I feel the Republican Party has forgotten and continues to progressively distance itself from."

Playing favorites? The mistrust Utah County GOP insiders seem to have for one another was on display at Saturday's Lincoln Day Dinner.

Organizers decided to honor Utah County state officeholders who had served more than 10 years by presenting them with plaques and having them stand for applause.

Honorees included Sens. John Valentine, Curt Bramble and Howard Stephenson (whose mostly Salt Lake County district includes part of Utah County), and House Speaker Becky Lockhart.

Organizers forgot Sen. Margaret Dayton, who has been in the Legislature more than 10 years, but they apologized for that oversight.

What raised eyebrows is that they failed to include Gov. Gary Herbert, who was a longtime Utah County commissioner before he became lieutenant governor in 2005 and governor in 2009.

Insiders expect Lockhart to challenge Herbert in 2016, so every acknowledgment at the expense of Herbert, who was at the dinner, is noticed.

Voeks, the party chairman, said he raised the question himself, but was satisfied when told that to get a plaque, the officeholder had to hold a state office for more than 10 years. County offices didn't count.

Rest of the story • I wrote recently about the quote from Thomas Jefferson that newly appointed Attorney General Sean Reyes chose to put on his office website: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

I've since learned Reyes shares such inspiration with someone rather infamous: Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was wearing a T-shirt bearing that quote when he was arrested.

prolly@sltrib.com