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‘The Rundown’: Two Utah lawmakers attended conspiracy-fueled cyber symposium hosted by My Pillow’s Mike Lindell

Your Friday morning Utah political cheat sheet

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Two Utah lawmakers attended conspiracy-fueled cyber symposium hosted by My Pillow’s Mike Lindell

Both Rep. Steve Christiansen, R-South Jordan, and Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, attended Mike “My Pillow” Lindell’s cyber symposium in South Dakota this week. Lindell promised the event would reveal “irrefutable” proof to back up his baseless claims that Chinese hackers stole the 2020 election for Joe Biden. Experts who attended or watched the event online said the presentations at the event didn’t come close.

The Tribune’s Robert Gehrke previously detailed how Christiansen had completely bought into Lindell’s conspiracy theories. That came after I reported Christiansen traveled to Arizona in June to observe the “audit” of election results in Maricopa County.

On Thursday, Christiansen was interviewed on TruNews, which Wikipedia describes as a “far-right conspiracy and fake news website.”

“There is a perception that Utah does it best, and our elections have never had problems. I am not a believer of that,” Christiansen said.

Christiansen added he was disappointed Lindell’s event did not deliver the promised proof of election fraud but said everyone should want the 2020 results to be audited for the sake of accuracy.

“There are lots of people that say this was the cleanest, most transparent election ever conducted in the history of the United States. My opinion is the exact opposite,” Christiansen said.

Among those who say the election was free and fair was former President Trump’s own Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Trump fired the director, Christopher Krebs, after he contradicted Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.

Shortly after the 2020 election, Christiansen asked the Utah Legislature to audit the results in Salt Lake County, even though Trump defeated Biden in the state. Christiansen made the fantastical claim that the county used Dominion voting machines (they don’t) and wanted to know if they connected to the internet (they don’t). Legislative leaders had no appetite for such an audit.

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen says she recently gave Christiansen, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, and Utah State Elections Director Justin Lee a tour of their election center.

“We showed him everything we could. He wasn’t at our election audit, so he didn’t see that, but we answered all of his questions,” Swensen said.

Swensen disagreed with Christiansen’s opinion that the election results were somehow suspicious.

“He looked right in my face and said he trusted what we’re doing,” Swensen said.


Here’s what you need to know for Friday morning

😷 The Salt Lake County Council voted along party lines to stop a mask mandate for K-6 students. The Tribune’s Leia Larsen and Sean Means captured the incredible scene that unfolded. [Tribune]

😷 “Blood is going to be on their hands.” Teachers and parents slam the Salt Lake County Council’s move to block a mask requirement for students returning to the classroom. [Tribune]

🇺🇸 The Census shows America is getting more diverse and on the way to becoming a majority-minority society. The number of White people in the U.S. decreased for the first time since 1790. [WaPo]

📊 Utah’s population is growing like gangbusters. Minority groups now make up a quarter of the state’s population, according to new Census numbers. [Tribune]

🚨 Nine moderate Democrats in the House sent Speaker Nancy Pelosi a letter saying they won’t support the $3.5 trillion budget proposal until the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passes. [NYT]

💉 The FDA authorized an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose for certain immunocompromised people. [CNN]

💉 LDS Church leaders issued a call for members to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks in public meetings where social distancing is impossible. [Tribune]

💉 Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied a request to stop Indiana University from requiring that faculty and students get the COVID-19 vaccine. [CNN]

🦠 States that seemed to have the COVID-19 pandemic under control are now struggling with a crush of new cases. [AP]

🚨 The Taliban captured Kandahar, the second-largest city in Afghanistan. The capital of Kabul is expected to fall within days. The U.S. is rushing 3,000 troops to help with the partial evacuation of the U.S. embassy [AP]

⚖️ The Supreme Court blocked part of New York’s ban on evictions during the pandemic. The court ended protection for renters who self-certify that they are suffering economic hardship. [Politico]

🏡 Home prices in the U.S.jumped 23% last quarter, the biggest increase on record. The median home price is now $357,900. [Bloomberg]

🥵 Nearly 2/3 of Americans live in places experiencing dangerous heat waves where temperatures are reaching levels that feel hotter than 100 degrees. [NPR]


‘Utah Politics’ podcast

In this episode, we take you inside a Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board meeting with the two Republican lawmakers heading up the Legislature’s redistricting committee.

Sen. Scott Sandall, R-Tremonton, and Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, field questions from members of our Editorial Board about how they plan to draw the state’s new political maps, how the public can get involved, and whether Utah is gerrymandered in favor of Republicans.

Listen to the episode here.


Friday’s Utah news roundup

COVID

  • Utah reports the most new COVID-19 cases in five months. [Tribune]

  • Study: The main reasons Utahns aren’t getting vaccinated. [Fox 13]

Utah

  • Draper residents excited about recreational and commercial opportunities ‘The Point’ will bring to Utah prison site. [Tribune]

  • University of Utah offers a first look inside the $80-million south end zone expansion at Rice-Eccles Stadium. [Tribune]

  • Carolina firm buys Foothill Village. See how it plans to renovate ‘iconic’ Salt Lake City shopping center. [Tribune]

  • Airline announces new flights from Provo to Houston and Palm Springs. [Fox 13]

  • Welcome to the Great Resignation, where burnout meets opportunity. [Deseret News]

Housing

  • Utah County home prices surge faster than nearly everywhere in the country. [KUTV]

Politics

  • What’s in the Democrats’ budget proposal that could help your family? [Deseret News]

In the opinion pages

  • Bob Rees: COVID’s threat to children demands immediate action. [Tribune]

  • Justin Stapley: Conservatives don’t need Donald Trump again. [Tribune]

  • Face it, you’ve become meaner because of the pandemic. [Deseret News]


🎂 You say it’s your birthday?!!

Happy birthday to state Rep. Ryan Wilcox and Josh Romney, Sen. Mitt Romney’s son.

On Saturday, former Salt Lake County Council member Michael Jensen and state Rep. Doug Owens celebrate birthdays.

Sunday birthdays include BYU political science professor Quin Monson and Meg Joseph, former chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson

Got a birthday you’d like us to recognize in this space? Send us an email.

— The Tribune’s Jordan Miller contributed to this report.

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