As reported by The Salt Lake Tribune, our Utah Senate majority whip, Dan Hemmert, recently decided to mislead voters on behalf of two state Senate candidates, including his wife’s cousin, Johnny Ferry, and Sen. Lincoln Fillmore. I live in Senator Fillmore’s district, in South Jordan.
While Hemmert’s conduct may not have been directly illegal, it was absolutely unethical.
US Term Limits, founded in 1992, is a single issue political action committee focused on enacting term limits at every level of government. As 75% of Utahns support term limits, it should come as no surprise that their endorsements could have a big impact on voters.
Concerned that his friends might lose their races over their refusal to sign a pledge to support term limits, Hemmert helped create a fake PAC called Utah Term Limits, with no membership to speak of. The officers of this PAC are paid lobbyists, which is hilarious given that this PAC’s mailers say their purpose is to “ensure that our elected officials bring fresh ideas and stop them from being tied to special interests.”
The more you read into it, the worse it gets.
Utah Term Limits endorsed two candidates who refused to sign a term limits pledge, and spent thousands of dollars to try to convince voters that they actually did support term limits
They formally created the PAC one day after the donor disclosure deadline, ensuring that they wouldn’t have to reveal the source of the money until after the primary election was over, undoubtedly hoping that by then nobody would be paying attention anymore.
Hemmert attempted to hide his control of the PAC by not listing himself as an officer. Officially Karen Hammond is the executive director, but it was Hemmert’s cell phone number that was listed as her official contact.
This kind of deceit is immoral and disgraceful, and unbecoming of any legislator. Our leaders don’t trust voters with the truth, so they feed them lies to try to protect their friends and family. Yet this is the man that our Legislature has chosen to help lead the Senate -- a man who is entirely unopposed for re-election.
Some will say that this is simply politics as usual. And perhaps it is. It is just one more symptom of the corruption plaguing our society.
But it doesn’t have to be. Politicians do stuff like this every day, because we, the voters, let them. They do it because they can, because many of them are in such safely gerrymandered districts they will cruise through re-election no matter what they do.
They do it because too many believe the ends justify the means, that there is nothing too underhanded, too dishonest, too dirty, as long as it means their “team” will win. And every day, our country becomes more polarized as we vote more and more to stop the candidate we fear the most instead of choosing someone who actually represents our values.
We love to talk about draining the swamp in D.C. Maybe we should take a look at the swamp right here in Utah. It’s time to stand up and demand more of our representatives. We need to change our political culture such that this kind of deceit becomes political suicide.
We need leaders who will bring systemic change to Utah and change the culture of our political scene. We can start with term limits, campaign finance limits, ranked choice voting, and truly independent redistricting. It’s time for some new faces in the legislature.
Integrity matters. We need leaders that trust the voters with the truth. We need leaders who will win over voters by listening to their concerns and by finding solutions to local problems, not lies and dirty tricks. We need leaders who will be champions of transparency, who will help to change our system for the better. We need leaders who will embrace good ideas without worrying about what team they came from.
The kind of people we choose to lead us reflects on our judgment as a people. We can do better. Let’s start this November.
Ryan Boudwin, South Jordan, is the United Utah Party nominee for Utah House District 42.