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Rolly: Sen. Mike Lee dodges Salt Lake County during recess

Published August 15, 2013 1:57 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sen. Mike Lee announced he will attend five town hall meetings in Utah during Congress' summer recess. He will explain his attempts to de-fund Obamacare and answer questions and concerns from his constituents.

Sounds pretty good, so far. Right?

The locations of these town hall meetings are Spanish Fork on Wednesday, Plain City on Aug. 22, Tooele on Aug. 27, Farmington on Aug. 28 and Kanab on Sept. 5.

Any glaring omissions in that list?

How about the county where half the state's population resides?

Oh, but that county isn't as dominated by tea party sycophants as much as the aforementioned places, is it?

Lee might actually get some tough questions in Salt Lake County, especially when you consider the heat some of his colleagues have taken at town hall meetings. Lee seems to want to stay in his comfort zone, which would include the more conservative areas of Utah and Fox News.

Speaking of Mike Lee • Utah's junior senator has sent out yet another letter to his "fellow Americans" begging for an "emergency contribution" to his campaign to keep putting pressure on the "ruling class."

Too bad the Federal Elections Commission rejected his attempt to set up a super-PAC for himself. Then he could be king and lead his own ruling class.

Et tu, Brute? • At least Mike Lee's former chief of staff spoke at an event in Salt Lake County.

Oh, but that was to make fun of Lee.

Spencer Stokes was a lobbyist and Republican strategist before he took the job as chief of staff for the then-newly elected Sen. Mike Lee in 2011.

But unlike the minions of the tea party tsunami that roared onto the political scene in 2010 and swept Lee to victory, Stokes is a pragmatist rather than an ideologue.

Stokes, who previously served as the Utah Republican Party's executive director before becoming a lobbyist, was an adviser to many Republicans, including former Sen. Bob Bennett and Senator-for-Life Orrin Hatch.

Bennett supporters were stunned after the three-term senator lost in the 2010 State Republican Convention and then, months later, learned that Stokes was going to work for Lee, the eventual victor.

Hatch supporters had the same reaction after Stokes, then firmly entrenched in the Lee bureaucracy, hinted that Hatch's long stint in the senate may lead to his political end while he was challenged by another conservative upstart, Dan Liljenquist.

After two years with Lee, Stokes quit that job and returned to his lobbying business in Utah, where he regained one of his more lucrative clients, Salt Lake County, for a $65,000 annual fee.

So when Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams had a fundraiser a while back, Stokes was one of several Republicans who entertained the donors with standup comedy.

Stokes brought the house down because he had the best material to work with: Telling Mike Lee jokes.

prolly@sltrib.com