Burgess Owens snubs Democrats on Utah’s Capitol Hill

Owens meets Tuesday with legislative Republicans and Gov. Spencer Cox, but not Democrats.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens fist bumps lobbyist Jeff Hartley at the Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. Owens also met with House and Senate Republicans and Gov. Spencer Cox during the Legislative session.

It’s a tradition for Utah’s congressional delegation members to visit Utah lawmakers during the legislative session. It used to be that they would speak on the House and Senate floors, then answer a few questions.

That changed several years ago as floor time was nixed in favor of spending time with individual caucuses to answer questions and discuss issues.

On Tuesday, Rep. Burgess Owens is visiting the Utah Capitol, but he is skipping a meeting with House and Senate Democrats. Instead, he’s only meeting with the House and Senate Republicans and Gov. Spencer Cox.

Rep. Andrew Stoddard, D-Sandy, voiced his displeasure with Owens decision on Twitter.

Owens refused to answer questions from The Tribune as he walked through the Capitol Tuesday morning.

“I don’t respond to the racist Tribune,” Owens said before ducking inside the governor’s office.

Owens was referring to an editorial cartoon from Pat Bagley comparing his anti-immigrant rhetoric to language used by the KKK to demonize Black people in the South.

During a visit to the U.S./Mexico border last spring, Owens warned undocumented immigrants would soon be flooding American neighborhoods, blaming Democrats.

“They are coming to your neighborhoods, not knowing the language, not knowing the culture, and there is a cartel influence along the way. So be aware, don’t think this is a distance from you now, this is coming your way and it is done on purpose by a party who could care less about we the people,” Owens said to far-right outlet Newsmax during his trip to Texas.

Last year Owens told the House Democratic Caucus he accepted Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election. Owens voted to throw out the electoral votes from Pennsylvania as part of former President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn his election loss. Owens also apologized for lumping liberals in with Marxists and socialists.

Stoddard said in a text message that every other member of Utah’s congressional delegation has scheduled a meeting with the House Democratic caucus, that includes Rep. Chris Stewart, who has skipped them the last few years.

Owens’ office did not respond to a request for comment.