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Rolly: Right wingers attack their own Mormon Church

Published September 13, 2011 3:12 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ever since the LDS Church declared its support for the Utah Compact, advocating compassion in the illegal immigration debate, and support of Utah's guest-worker law, tea-party Mormons have seemed to waver between following their church leaders or Glenn Beck.

Delegates at Republican conventions, while debating whether to ask for the Legislature's repeal of the guest-worker bill, argued among themselves about the church's role in the issue, whether it had a right to express an opinion and what its statements really meant.

Now we have the definitive answer from a former Arizona state senator who ran in the Republican primary for governor of that state last year and is a loudly proclaimed tea-party Mormon steeped in the belief she and all other good people are surrounded by government conspiracies.

Arizona State Sen. Karen Johnson says her beloved Mormon Church was brainwashed by evil liberals.

And now, she surmises, Mormon leaders have something in common with the news media: They wallow in ignorance by opposing her righteousness.

Yep, in the world of Johnson and the tradition of Mormon conservatives in her area of Mesa, Ariz., the LDS Church in Utah is now a liberal bastion.

Johnson, who gave a speech in the Arizona Senate in 2008 alleging the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11 was the result of government conspiracy, wrote a lengthy piece on her blog last week that claims the Utah Compact was a carefully crafted conspiracy that sucked Mormon leaders in by using LDS code words.

Johnson, who was named worst legislator of the year by the Arizona Republic in 2002, charged in her editorial that nobody would claim authorship of the Utah Compact which, among other things, advocates keeping families together when dealing with undocumented workers who Johnson and other tea partiers say should all be deported.

She had harsh words for such liberal radicals as Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce President and former president of the Utah Senate Lane Beattie. Another liberal rascal revealed by her research is Paul Mero, of the Sutherland Institute (and you thought that was a conservative think tank).

She unmasked the plot by pointing out that Chamber of Commerce executive Natalie Gochnour couldn't say in a television interview who was the actual author of the compact. Johnson mocked Gochnour's answer that up to 100 people had input into the final product.

But Johnson found out that the real culprit was longtime political consultant Carter Livingston, a Democrat.

Livingston was working with the Washington, D.C.-based National Immigration Forum and, in an interview uncovered by Johnson, said that in order to work with the conservative culture in Utah to arrive at a solution, he tried to find common ground, like keeping families together.

And that's what duped the church, says Johnson.

The Arizona political culture from which Johnson comes is the same culture that created the political philosophy of Utah Eagle Forum president Gayle Ruzicka, who, while living in Arizona was part of the political machine that elected former Republican Gov. Evan Mecham, later disgraced by scandal.

Ruzicka moved to Utah after that and has been molding Utah County in the image of Mesa ever since.

prolly@sltrib.com