The puppet master of the Utah Legislature has long been rumored to be Eagle Forum dictator Gayle Ruzicka, always lurking around the halls at the Capitol and sitting in committee meetings, carefully eyeing the lawmakers who seem to cower at any frown, jump at any wiggle of the finger.
But the Eagle Forum's influence over the key conservative legislators who often guide the agenda could not have been made more clear than by a seemingly innocent quote from a legislator in the middle of the sex education controversy who, thinking he was scoring political points, inadvertently spilled the beans.
He thought he was explaining how his bill that would have banned any discussion of contraceptives in sex-education classes and allowed schools to end such classes altogether, was simply adhering to the wishes of his constituents.
What he did though, was reveal that he doesn't listen to his constituents at all save one, and her first name is a homophone of gale.
A story in The Salt Lake Tribune last week noted that Gov. Gary Herbert had received about 10,000 emails from constituents weighing in on the sex-education bill this session. About 90 percent of the emails urged the governor to veto the bill, which he eventually did, to the disgruntlement of the Eagle Forum and other self-appointed morality cops.
Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, the bill's sponsor, was comfortable that he was doing what his constituents wanted him to do and said those constituents who opposed the bill generally fit into one of four categories: pornography shop owners; people who support promiscuous behavior; those who admitted they teach their own kids abstinence-only, but feel others aren't as intelligent and need to learn about contraception; and "intellectuals."
He was so sure of those specific categories representing the people who want comprehensive sex education in the schools that he displayed his own insincerity as boldly as the king who wore no clothes.
Think about it. Here's what the email would say:
"Hello, Rep. Wright. I'm a porn shop owner and I am opposed to your sex education bill."
"Hello, Rep Wright. I'm a fan of promiscuous behavior and I oppose your sex education bill."
Or, (and this is my favorite): "Hello, Rep. Wright. I'm an intellectual."
For the record, not one of the 10,000 emails self-identified as a porn shop owner, a supporter of promiscuous behavior or an intellectual.
Wright was not describing what any constituents had said to him. He was describing the Eagle Forum's perception of people who want sex education taught in the schools.
His own ignorance of the issue was manifest several times during the legislative session as the bill wove its way through committee.
At one point in a committee hearing, he described things in "the curriculum" that weren't in the sex-ed curriculum at all. He was describing the maturation program, which is co-sponsored by the PTA, is held outside of the regular school and voluntary.
He also expressed concern about a black and white outline of a male and female in a handout that was not anatomically correct. The Eagle Forum saw that as an attempt to promote homosexuality.
In fact, the behind-the-scenes pleadings of Eagle Forum advocates to the governor's office included their suspicions that sex education in the schools promoted the "gay agenda" a popular bugaboo of the Eagle Forum.
Wright has long been considered a tool of the Eagle Forum, whose objectives often are contrary to wishes of Utah's majority. And during the interview with The Tribune last week, he proved it.