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GOP probe finds no wrongdoing in 2nd District chaos

State’s top Republican finds that there were no plots or conspiracies to smear Chris Stewart.

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When Hanks finished his convention speech, he received a huge ovation and finished third in the first round of balloting with 121 votes.

The other campaigns were furious but had no way to immediately respond. During speeches before the second round of voting, Williams took to the microphone and called Stewart a "bold-faced liar" before being cut off. When his mic was turned back on, he dropped out of the race and threw his support to Clark.

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Eagar returned to the mic and withdrew as well, as did Wallack, trying to force Stewart into a primary with Clark. In the end, Stewart clinched the 2nd District nomination by 13 votes.

In the interview, Hanks acknowledges that he spoke to Connie Smith, a friend and Juab County Party chairwoman who was working on the Stewart campaign, about the letter. But he said he doesn’t recall when the conversation took place and doesn’t think she knew what he planned for his speech. Smith refused to discuss the conversation last week, saying she wanted the issue to go away.

Wallack questions why Hanks would file to run after professing his support for Stewart, then not campaigning until the convention.

"Milt Hanks never called a delegate, never knocked on a door to my knowledge," Wallack said. "It’s almost as though he got into this race for the specific purpose of this convention speech."

He points out that Hanks now says he can’t remember which of the four candidates approached him about joining "Anybody But Chris" or had damaging information on Stewart. Wallack questions why the anonymous smear on Stewart was only mailed to a few delegates and how the Stewart campaign was able to amount an almost immediate response through a letter to all 973 delegates.

"It’s physically impossible," Wallack said.

He suggested there are legal remedies available and said he expects that there will be complaints to the Federal Election Commission.

"I think it’s really important that the public finds out what really happened, whether this was just one man doing it on his own on some kind of crusade or if there were other people involved," Wallack said.

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Wright said that he would ask the Republican Party to review its rules for future conventions to decide if campaigns that are criticized during convention speeches should have an opportunity to respond, as well as other potential logistical changes.


Twitter: @RobertGehrke

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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