‘The Rundown’: The Utah connection to a bizarre Texas political story

Your Wednesday morning Utah political cheat sheet

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The Utah connection to a bizarre Texas political story

Right-wing media was up in arms this week over letters sent to upscale homes in Dallas urging “wealthy white liberals” to pledge not to send their kids to top colleges to open up slots for “Black and LatinX” students as a way to “make amends” for past wrongs.

The mailers and online posts came from a group calling itself “Dallas Justice Now.” As you might imagine, right-wing outlets like Fox News and Breitbart had a field day with the story.

CNN, Vice, and the Dallas Observer dug into the details and discovered “Dallas Justice Now” was likely a hoax.

Where does Utah come into play?

CNN found that the “Dallas Justice Now” website was connected to a Utah-based firm, Arena, which does direct mail and web development for Republican candidates around the country. Arena CEO Clint Brown acknowledged to CNN that there was a connection, but he said Arena stopped working with the client when they “learned their objective” for the website.

Brown did not say who the client was, nor did he say why Arena stopped working with them.

Make sure you read the rest of the wild investigation.

Here’s what you need to know for Wednesday morning:

⚖️ President Joe Biden called for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign after an investigation finds he sexually harassed 11 women. [WaPo]

👀 Orem-based Nomi Health is fighting the public release of a report on the accuracy of its COVID-19 tests in Nebraska. The company claims such a release would reveal trade secrets. Questions about the accuracy of Nomi’s tests have arisen in several states, including Utah. A lawsuit seeking the release of the information was filed on behalf of Salt Lake Tribune board chair Paul Huntsman. [Tribune]

🚨 Top officials in the Justice Department rejected efforts by Jeffrey Clark, the acting head of the DOJ’s civil division, to call on Georgia officials to investigate baseless claims of voter fraud following the 2020 election. [ABC News]

🚨 Over 82% of Utah’s ICU beds are full due to a resurgence of COVID-19 infections. Gov. Spencer Cox once again urged Utahns to get vaccinated. [Tribune]

💉 A CNN analysis finds it could be February before all eligible Americans get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. [CNN]

💉 The FDA is pushing to give full approval to the Pfizer vaccine by early September. [NYT]

🏠 The Biden administration issued a new eviction moratorium targeted at areas with high rates of COVID-19 infection. Experts say the move is unlikely to withstand a legal challenge. [WSJ]

😷 Utah County Commissioner Amelia Powers Gardner used social media to public comment opposing a possible mask mandate. Parents seeking a mask mandate in schools say Gardner is inappropriately trying to skew public opinion. [Tribune]

💉 New York City will require proof of vaccination for indoor dining and other activities. The regulation applies to both workers and customers. [NYT]

🦠 South Korean officials have identified at least two cases of the “delta plus” COVID-19 variant. Experts worry the new variant is even more transmissible than the delta variant. [WaPo]

🛢 Utah’s oil and gas industry hasn’t slowed down since President Joe Biden took office in January. [Tribune]

🏛 Robert Gehrke argues Utah’s independent redistricting commission was set up to fail by Utah lawmakers. [Tribune]

🗳 Democrats in Ohio picked moderate Shontel Brown over progressive Nina Turner in the primary election for a safe Democratic seat in Congress. [WaPo]

🗳 Ohio Republicans gave the nod to Mike Carey, who former President Donald Trump, in a Republican-leaning seat. [NYT]

Wednesday’s Utah news roundup


  • Seizure and search: Civil rights lawsuit alleges feud-inspired conspiracy by Garfield County sheriff. [Tribune]

  • An Ogden single mom lost half her work hours during COVID-19. Then, payday lenders nearly drove her to despair. [Tribune]

  • Want to attend Sundance in 2022? Get vaccinated first, the film festival director says. [Tribune]

  • Think you know Red Butte Garden? Here are 5 new ways to look at it. [Tribune]

  • This historic D.C. property will be named for Orrin Hatch and will house University of Utah interns. [Deseret News]

  • Utah dispatcher arrested by U.S. Marshals on warrant for child pornography. [KUTV]

  • Utah renters forced to pay hundreds of dollars more to keep their apartments. [KUTV]


  • Doctor pleads for mask mandate for schools as Utah reports five more COVID-19 deaths. [Tribune]


  • Schools prepare for back to school; teacher’s union raises concerns. [FOX13

  • Construction delays have forced a Utah high school to start classes online. [Tribune]

  • Anti-human trafficking nonprofit, SUU announce scholarships for survivors. [KSL]


  • Utah tech sector levels up with new political action committee. [Deseret News

  • Utah supermarket chain first in country to accept digital drivers licenses. [FOX13]

Local Government

  • Summit County Council wants Park City area to have its own Statehouse representative. [Park Record]

  • Summit County anti-vaccine advocates are asking for the right to speak at Board of Health meetings. [Park Record]

  • Provo Municipal Council hears COVID report from Utah Valley Hospital reps. [Daily Herald]

  • Weber County officials face decision on $30 million library proposal. [Standard Examiner]

On the Opinion Pages

  • Chad Mullins: Speaker Wilson’s ‘Utah Way’ will wreck the state. [Tribune]

  • Tala Shihab: August 4, a day to not forgive nor forget. [Tribune]

— The Tribune’s Connor Sanders contributed to this report.