First-year University of Utah law student Chandler Blount hadn’t been giving much attention to the ongoing municipal elections in his hometown of Draper — certainly not enough to sign up for any notifications from the candidate’s campaigns.
So he was surprised this week when a text message about the City Council race popped up on his phone. He was even more shocked when he read its contents.
“Are Huh’s ‘family values’ your family’s values? Or do you believe that #LoveWins and it is not ours to judge?” the text read. “Draper City Council candidate Hubert Huh is the proud local President of United Families International, a group which believes that only natural families are real families and that differing sexual orientations can be successfully changed and/or treated.”
The same text arrived in the phones of several thousand Draper voters this week, highlighting Huh’s self-acknowledged ties to a nonprofit identified as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Blount even began circulating an online petition calling on Huh to drop out of the race.
“Draper is better than this,” he said. “We need to rise up and show him that we don’t allow subhuman treatment of sexual minorities.”
One of the remaining questions was who had circulated the text, with no sender identified in the message itself. Blount and others interpreted it as coming from Huh’s campaign. Huh said he had nothing to do with it and pointed the finger at his opponents, who he says have been attacking him throughout the race.
“I didn’t want to criticize anybody in this election,” Huh said. “Even though my opponents, they’re doing everything to keep me from getting elected. Why?”
But the sender turned out to be none of the above, and the text actually came from a Draper data strategist who acknowledges that he doesn’t much care one way or another what Huh’s views on LGBTQ rights are.
The sender of the mass text, GOP activist Daryl Acumen, says his priority is making sure the current City Council members defeat Huh, a candidate who has criticized the incumbents for voting in lockstep too often.
“We’re all just starting to get along,” Acumen said in an interview. “The last thing I need is some guy named Hubert Huh who’s like, ‘Well the fact that you guys are getting along is really bad.’”
Acumen says he sent out the text to about 4,000 Democratic or left-leaning unaffiliated voters in Draper. He didn’t identify it as coming from his political data strategy firm, Integrity Matters, because the company is generally regarded as a “conservative organization.”
A couple of other Huh-bashing text messages did contain a line acknowledging they were paid for by Integrity Matters. Those went to about 15,500 Draper voters and took aim at Huh for criticizing unanimous City Council votes and for suing the city a couple of years ago.
Acumen pointed out that Huh advertised his affiliation with United Families International (UFI) on his candidate profile and feels Draper voters should take note of the connection. Though he wishes the Supreme Court left the decision about same-sex marriage up to individual state legislatures, he believes UFI goes too far in condemning same-sex unions.
“These guys are just intolerant,” Acumen said. “I mean, I once during the BLM thing joined one of these little gun rights groups. But I’m not going to put that in my LinkedIn. Well, he did. So hey, it’s fair game.”
Huh has acted as head of the Korean chapter of UFI, a nonprofit that proclaims it has “actively worked to protect families in the United States from LGBT and radical feminist movements, abortion without parental consent, federally controlled daycare, sex education issues, distribution of contraceptives to minors etc.”
“We [UFI] do not support homosexuality,” Huh was quoted saying in a 2015 article in the Korea Times. “We believe in the sanctity of marriage, and that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”
Huh told The Salt Lake Tribune that the 2015 interview was conducted in Korean and that some of the wording nuances might have been lost in translation. He said he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and adheres to his church’s beliefs opposing same-sex marriage but adds that everyone should be treated with love and respect.
“We are all children of God,” he said. “I never hate anybody.”
Though Huh’s current candidate profile identifies him as president of UFI’s local Korean chapter, he told the Tribune he hasn’t been affiliated with the group in several years.
But Blount said Huh showed his true colors in the aftermath of the mass text sent by Acumen. The law student says he mentioned Huh in his Instagram stories and called on him to act “in a way more consistent with an academic and progressive view of human rights,” but never got a response.
“Allowing left-leaning voters of Draper to fume over his anti-gay ideologies might allow him to capitalize off of a deeply entrenched partisan divide by distancing himself from the left,” Blount wrote in a text. “And finding himself in the company of right-leaning constituents that may not have given up their antiquated anti-LGBT notions.”
Acumen said he sent out the texts in the first place because he was concerned about the momentum Huh’s campaign appeared to be gaining.
Huh, an enthusiastic candidate who ran a half-marathon while holding a campaign sign, has pitched himself as “more than just a rubber stamp,” arguing that the current slate of city leaders too often votes together.
“Agreeing isn’t always governing,” he says on a recent campaign video.
Huh attempted to run for City Council in 2019 but was disqualified from the race for turning in his campaign finance disclosure form one minute past the deadline. About a month earlier, the city recorder’s office had sent out the wrong due date to candidates, and while it had corrected the error, Huh said he had inadvertently put the wrong deadline on his calendar.
He later filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against the city for booting him out of the race.
The attacking texts sent by Acumen and the ongoing disappearance of his campaign signs, he says, are the latest hurdles on his path to political office.