Accountability & Transparency – Alliance for a Better Utah

Accountability & Transparency

The fundamental purpose of our work is to maintain open and transparent government by keeping the electorate informed. Though some find it hard to believe, our state is home to a diverse population of backgrounds and perspectives. Utah citizens put a great deal of trust in local government to ensure that everyone is represented equally.

When elected government officials abuse that trust, whether by acting in accordance with their personal beliefs instead of the law, accepting “gifts” in exchange for political favors, indulging the influence of outside groups or by making important decisions in closed caucus meetings, ABU is there to speak out.

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Help us hold government officials accountable for their words and actions. If you know of anything unethical or shady, let us know!

Latest Blog Posts and News

Who is Phil Lyman?

San Juan County, Utah, home to Bear Ears National Monument, has been a haven for controversy and a breeding ground for negative rhetoric for years. Current County Commissioner and long time anti monument champion, Phil Lyman, has not only been at the epicenter of this drama, but more times than not he’s been the one…

Press Release: FEC Confirms That Mia Love Has Not Been Cleared of Wrongdoing

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 30, 2018 FEC CONFIRMS THAT MIA LOVE HAS NOT BEEN CLEARED OF WRONGDOING Salt Lake City, UT – Responding to misleading statements from Mia Love, Alliance for a Better Utah released an email this morning from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) clarifying that Better Utah’s complaint remains under review….

Do these words represent your beliefs?

With midterms just around the corner it’s safe to say there will be no shortage of controversy this election year. Utah may not be a hotbed for election drama, but there is one candidate whose racist comments, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, and demeaning views towards women are flying under the radar. House District 31 Republican Candidate Fred…

‘I’ve never seen anything like it’: In the months since its formation, the Inland Port Authority Board has faced near nonstop chaos

This article originally appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here.  Last week, as the Inland Port Authority Board considered its last agenda item of the night — one that needed to be reconsidered, since it seemed to have been put on the agenda incorrectly at the group’s August meeting —…

Inland Port Authority Board faces more criticism over transparency, $2 million budget plan

This article originally appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here.  The Inland Port Authority Board can’t seem to escape accusations that it’s operating in the shadows. Nearly a month after the board voted to keep its subcommittee meetings closed to the public, the Salt Lake County Council voted unanimously Tuesday…

Rep. Mia Love’s FEC issues ‘part and parcel’ of campaigns, her new attorney says

This article originally appeared in the Deseret News. Read it in its entirety here. SALT LAKE CITY — The controversy surrounding more than $1 million contributed to Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, for a primary race she didn’t have “at most is a $10,800 problem,” her newly hired election law attorney said Tuesday. “From a legal…

Rep. Chris Stewart: Trump’s Chief Apologist

Chris Stewart has had quite the record when it comes to Trump. My goal today is to simply lay out that record and then have you answer the question: when it comes to holding the president accountable, is Rep. Stewart properly representing Utahns?

Press Release: Rep. Mia Love May Have Committed Criminal Violations Of Federal Election Law

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 19, 2018 REP. MIA LOVE MAY HAVE COMMITTED CRIMINAL VIOLATIONS OF FEDERAL ELECTION LAW Salt Lake City, UT – As reported by the New York Times, good government group Alliance for a Better Utah submitted a formal complaint yesterday against Representative Mia Love (R, UT-04) to the Federal Elections…

Utah group complains Mia Love should face criminal penalties for improper fundraising

This article originally appeared on The Hill. Read it in its entirety here. A progressive nonprofit group in Utah has filed a federal complaint against Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) over what the group says are campaign finance violations, according to The New York Times. Alliance for a Better Utah, which advocates for transparency and accountability in government, filed…

Utah group files FEC complaint against Rep. Mia Love over campaign contributions

This article originally appeared in the Desert News. Read it in its entirety here.  SALT LAKE CITY — A complaint against Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, has been filed with the Federal Election Commission by a progressive Utah nonprofit claiming the congresswoman accepted more than $1.1 million in illegal campaign contributions. Love’s campaign denied any wrongdoing…

Utah Group Files Complaint Against Mia Love Over Fund-Raising

This article originally appeared in the New York Times. Read it in its entirety here. A progressive group in Utah that advocates government transparency and accountability filed a federal complaint against Representative Mia Love, a Republican, on Tuesday over alleged campaign finance violations, escalating the liberal fight against the vulnerable incumbent just seven weeks before November’s…

Has the Unified Fire Authority cleaned up its act? Under the new chief, once exorbitant bonuses have dropped to zero.

This article originally appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here.  When Unified Fire Authority Chief Dan Peterson took over the agency he says there “wasn’t a soul” who wanted it to stay as it was. The State Auditor’s Office had published a scathing audit that month, January 2017, revealing the agency’s top…

County Government Needs You

Within 10 minutes of meeting someone, I can’t help but ask if they’re registered to vote. I’m the worst, I know. I’m sure it’s not doing me any favors in the dating scene, but I can’t help myself. The responses I often get are “no, it doesn’t matter” or something to that effect. With nationwide…

Ex-Unified fire chief won’t be charged, but now he’s facing calls to resign from inland port board

This article originally appeared in the Deseret News. Read it in its entirety here.  SALT LAKE CITY — The group Alliance for a Better Utah on Tuesday called on Salt Lake County Councilman Michael Jensen to step down from his post on the Utah Inland Port Authority board. The call comes after the release of…

Utah’s inland-port board votes to keep the doors shut on its committee meetings despite public support for opening them

This article originally appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here. Gov. Gary Herbert wants them open. So do more than 160 organizations and individuals, including Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Alliance for a Better Utah and a number of community councils. Nevertheless, the Utah Inland Port Authority board on…

Press Release: Better Utah Responds To Port Authority Board Decision

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 29, 2018 BETTER UTAH RESPONDS TO PORT AUTHORITY BOARD DECISION Salt Lake City, UT – Today, the Inland Port Authority Board decided once again to keep subcommittee meetings closed to the public. Chase Thomas, executive director at Alliance for a Better Utah, issued the following statement: “The Inland Port…

Press Release: Weber County Loophole Allowed Big Payoff to Elected Official

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 28, 2018 WEBER COUNTY LOOPHOLE ALLOWED BIG PAYOFF TO ELECTED OFFICIAL Salt Lake City, UT – Today, Alliance for a Better Utah called on a former Weber County Commissioner to pay back a portion of his retirement incentive. Former Weber County Commissioner Kerry Gibson benefited from a loophole in…

Weber Co. OKs 8-year phase out of cash perk for retiring elected officials

This article originally appeared in the Standard-Examiner. Read it in its entirety here.  OGDEN — Weber County commissioners have dialed back a retirement perk that allows elected leaders to take a lump-sum cash payment in lieu of extended health benefits on leaving office. Four officials have taken advantage of the benefit since an earlier slate of county commissioners…

Outspoken member of State Board of Education draws criticism over controversial comments

This article originally appeared on KUTV. Read it in its entirety here. (KUTV) — An outspoken member of the State Board of Education is drawing criticism over her controversial comments in board meetings and on social media. Lisa Cummins, elected in 2016, represents District 11, which includes the Jordan School District and parts of Salt…

Utah Attorney General criticized for backing repeal of LGBTQ employment protections

This article originally appeared on Fox13now.com. Read it in is entirety here . SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is being criticized for signing on to a legal filing supporting a rollback of employment protections for LGBTQ people. The liberal-leaning think tank Alliance for a Better Utah criticized Reyes for signing an amicus asking…

Utah Inland Port board to discuss opening closed-door subcommittee meetings after backlash

This article originally appeared in the Deseret News. Read it in its entirety here.  SALT LAKE CITY — After controversy over the Utah Inland Port Board subcommittees meeting behind closed doors, board leaders have indicated they have heard the concerns and may consider opening the meetings. Derek Miller, chairman of the Utah Inland Port Authority board and…

Judge: Clerk Falsified Complaint Against Navajo Candidate

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A judge who ordered a Utah county to put a Navajo man back on the ballot has determined the county clerk violated state law by improperly dating the residency complaint and by overstepping his role. U.S. District Judge David Nuffer said in his written decision filed Thursday night that Democrat Willie Grayeyes’…

Utah Inland Port board to discuss opening closed-door subcommittee meetings after backlash

This article originally appeared in the Deseret News. Read the article in its entirety here.  SALT LAKE CITY — After controversy over the Utah Inland Port Board subcommittees meeting behind closed doors, board leaders have indicated they have heard the concerns and may consider opening the meetings. Derek Miller, chairman of the Utah Inland Port Authority board…

The Utah Inland Port board’s committees meeting in private despite criticism over lack of transparency

This article originally appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune. Click here to read it in its entirety. Want to know the business plan of what state leaders describe as the biggest economic development project in Utah history? How about the process behind hiring an executive director to oversee the new Utah Inland Port Authority? Tough…

Corruption should be prevented, not just revealed

“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” — Justice Louis D. Brandeis   Despite its overuse, I have always loved this quote from Brandeis. However, most people tend to only quote the first half of the sentence. I believe this is because most people only tend to…

Alliance for a Better Utah calls for immediate resignation of San Juan County clerk

(KUTV) — Alliance for a Better Utah called for the immediate resignation of San Juan County Clerk John Nielson after a federal judge found a falsified official document Saturday morning. Following a federal judge’s finding that Nielson falsified an official document – which led to the contested removal of Willie Grayeyes from the November ballot – Alliance…

Press Release: Federal judge orders San Juan County to put Utah Navajo activist Willie Grayeyes back on the ballot

A federal judge has ruled that San Juan County officials improperly invalidated the candidacy of Willie Grayeyes, a Navajo Democrat running for County Commission. After a hearing Tuesday in Moab, Grayeyes’ attorney, Steven Boos, said U.S. District Judge David Nuffer restored the candidate’s voting rights and ordered his name back onto the November ballot. Grayeyes’ name…

The Many Faces of Orrin Hatch

During a speech at the High School Leadership Summit on last Thursday, Hatch disparaged liberal bashing stating, “if you are owning libs just to own libs, your victory will be short-lived” which he followed with an urge for the audience to “aim higher.” The Senator’s recommendation was well stated and something he himself should heed….

Something stinks in Utah. It’s our congressmen.

Something in in the air stinks. No, it’s not the delightful scent with overtones of boiled egg wafting in from the great Salt Lake, nor is it our EPA-rated-dangerous air. It’s an odd scent, one that people on the political left in Utah are familiar with and have come to recognize as omnipresent. That smell…

Op-ed: Democrats should look beyond Kavanaugh and articulate what they’re for

President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will make most Republicans happy and has most Democrats twisted into knots. Those knots are likely caused by Kavanaugh’s conservative credentials as well as a still-festering wound over the unprecedented and blatantly partisan treatment of President Barack Obama’s nomination…

David R. Irvine: Taking the long view on the special counsel investigation

Who would have imagined an American president doing his level best in 2018 to break up the NATO alliance that has stood as a bulwark against Soviet/Russian aggression in Europe for nearly 70 years? Every U.S. president since Harry Truman has understood its strategic importance and the value of strong U.S. leadership to maintain its…

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes resigns from Inland Port Authority Board

(KUTV) — Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes has resigned from the Inland Port Authority Board, according to a tweet from Gov. Gary Herbert. The voluntary resignation comes on the heels of debate over his property holdings nearby the proposed trade hub in the outskirts of Salt Lake City. Herbert stated his appreciation in a social…

Greg Hughes steps down from Inland Port Authority Board

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) –  Utah Speaker of the House Greg Hughes is stepping down from the Inland Port Authority board. He will be replaced by Representative Francis Gibson (R – District 65). Governor Gary Herbert said, “We appreciate Speaker Hughes’ desire to have a successful inland port in Utah. We respect his decision to step…

House Speaker Greg Hughes steps down from Inland Port board less than a week after his property holdings came to light

House Speaker Greg Hughes, who appointed himself to serve on the board of the Utah Inland Port, has resigned from the position amid controversy involving his property holdings so close to the planned shipping-and-receiving trade hub in Salt Lake City that they disqualified him from membership. Hughes, who has been a vocal proponent of the…

Amid conflict of interest issues, House Speaker Greg Hughes resigns from inland port board

SALT LAKE CITY — In wake of revelations that he has ties to properties that disqualify him from being a Utah Inland Port Authority board member, House Speaker Greg Hughes announced Tuesday that he will not be serving on the board. While acting as a guest host for a KNRS radio show Tuesday, Hughes announced he will…

Commentary: Hughes should resign from port authority board

It was heartening to see Speaker Greg Hughes adamantly argue in favor of following the letter of the law during the stalled first meeting of the Utah Inland Port Authority earlier this week. His willingness to “debate this right now” with Gov. Gary Herbert over ambiguities in the board’s conflict of interest requirements was a…

Press Release: San Juan County Officials Accused of Mistreating Political Opponent

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 20, 2018 SAN JUAN COUNTY OFFICIALS ACCUSED OF MISTREATING POLITICAL OPPONENT Salt Lake City, UT – Today, Democratic candidate for the San Juan County Commission Willie Grayeyes filed suit in response to his removal from the November ballot by the county clerk. The lead defendant is  Lt. Gov. Spencer…

Press Release: Partisan Balance on Boards and Commissions Threatened Once Again

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 20, 2018 PARTISAN BALANCE ON BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS THREATENED ONCE AGAIN Salt Lake City, UT – Following the 2017 General Session of the Utah State Legislature, Governor Gary Herbert only vetoed one bill. H.B. 11, “State Boards and Commissions Amendments,” from Rep. Norm Thurston. This bill would have removed…

Utah GOP Fined $25,300 by FEC for “Several Election Law Violations”

It seems that the Utah GOP just doesn't know how to play by the rules. For the past few years, Utahns have been subjected to a never-ending news cycle about the Utah Republican Party and its refusal to accept the S.B. 54 compromise, which gave candidates for office a way to circumvent the ultra-conservative convention...

Protesters rally in Salt Lake against U.S. immigration poilicy

SALT LAKE CITY — About 50 people rallied outside the U.S. Attorney’s Office downtown Friday afternoon, protesting a new “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separates families trying to cross the southwest border. “Today, nearly 200 rallies across the nation are coming together,” María del Mar Gonzáles, a community outreach fellow for ACLU Utah, said to…

GOP Utah Legislators Roberts, McCay Get Fs in Overall Report Cards From Watchdog Organization

This story by Rhett Wilkinson originally appeared at TheGoodMenProject.com. Members of the Utah House of Representatives didn’t fail just in making a music video. Republicans Marc Roberts and Dan McCay got the worst grades among all members of the Utah Legislature – and the worst you can get overall – in the Alliance for a Better…

Press Release: Uncounted Ballots and Rescission Shenanigans Show Poor Process

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 16, 2018 UNCOUNTED BALLOTS AND RESCISSION SHENANIGANS SHOW POOR PROCESS Salt Lake City, UT – Following the revelation that over 150 ballot initiative signature packets were missing or otherwise went uncounted a day after clerks were required to have verified signatures and signature rescissions, Josh Kanter, founder and board…

Press Release: Representatives Pass Bill Giving Themselves Time To Change Initiatives

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 5, 2018 CONTACT: Katie Matheson | Alliance for a Better Utah   (WE SPOKE TOO SOON) REPRESENTATIVES PASS BILL GIVING THEMSELVES TIME TO CHANGE INITIATIVES   Salt Lake City, UT – After initially being defeated on the floor of the House, representatives reconsidered H.B. 471, “Initiative Amendments” and passed…

Press Release: GOP Legislators Introduce Bill To Avoid Confrontation With GOP Central Committee

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 2, 2018 CONTACT: Katie Matheson | Alliance for a Better Utah   GOP LEGISLATORS INTRODUCE BILL TO AVOID CONFRONTATION WITH GOP CENTRAL COMMITTEE   Salt Lake City, UT – As has been well publicized, the Utah GOP Central Committee recently passed a bylaw change that puts the party in…

Press Release: After Campaigning to End Raises, Sandy City Mayor Gives Himself Raise

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 15, 2018 CONTACT: Katie Matheson | Alliance for a Better Utah AFTER CAMPAIGNING TO END RAISES, SANDY MAYOR GIVES HIMSELF RAISE Salt Lake City, UT – Sandy City Mayor Kurt Bradburn has reportedly given himself a $15,000 raise, without the approval, or even the knowledge, of the Sandy City…

Op-ed: The bigger picture about Sen. Hatch and appointing federal judges

This Op-ed, written by Better Utah Board Member Jeff Swift, originally appeared in the Deseret News. To read the original article, click here.  In a Nov. 14 opinion piece in these pages, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch preached about the importance of the federal judiciary. He said the federal judiciary should be nonpartisan and full of qualified…

Commentary: The various ways Utah could foot the bill for Trump’s proposed tax cuts

This Op-ed originally appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune. To see the original article, click here.  Recently, Republicans in the House and Senate passed budget resolutions that would allow the tax code to undergo its most sweeping revision in three decades with only a simple majority in both chambers. Much has been made about the…

Utahns split on desire for more church transparency, but most active Mormons say it isn’t needed, poll shows

This article originally appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune and can be viewed here in it’s original form.  Utahns overwhelmingly want government and businesses to be more open, but they are less sure about whether churches need to lift veils of secrecy. While 93 percent of the state’s registered voters desire more transparency from government…

Does Utah’s Far-Right Legislature Reflect Poorly on the LDS Church?

Authored by Jeff Swift, ABU Board Member  I am tired of one-party control in Utah. It’s getting pretty old. In fact, it’s been old for a long time, even before Republicans slashed taxes on the wealthy and set the stage for our current education crisis. One-party control has led to a tepid response to a...

“Why” and “How” We Do What We Do

Recently, we received a tip that there were some offensive racial comments posted by a Sandy City Councilman on his personal Facebook page. This Councilman was on the Sandy City Council when he posted these things and is currently running for reelection. The first thing we did, of course, was to verify that the posts…

Double Feature at the Utah Legislature

Another month, another Interim Session with the Utah State Legislature. Except September consisted of twice the fun (or twice the boredom) because the Governor decided to call a Special Session to be held on the same day! I spent all day up at the Capitol and here’s a quick run-down on what I saw and…

Hits & Misses: Government Goals – UTA reform, partisan gerrymandering, ag-gag laws and more

Source: City Weekly Erase Our Sour Feelings Dear Sen. Wayne Harper, you are fabulous and smart, and we will keep saying that as you carefully and thoughtfully consider reining in the Utah Transit Authority. We know that many of the board members and developers are your close friends. But they’ll forgive you. We’ll call you…

Polarization of Politics

Let’s play a little game. As you read the following statements, pay close attention to your reactions. Alright, understand the rules? Let’s go. – – – – – Trans men and women should be able to use the bathroom of their gender identity. Climate change isn’t real. It’s a Chinese hoax to bankrupt America. Humans…

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes wants to protect us from ourselves and keep gerrymandering

Source: Salt Lake Tribune and True Viral News A recent Salt Lake Tribune/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll shows that, by a 61 percent to 22 percent margin, Utah voters favor having an independent commission redraw political boundaries to undo the partisan practice of gerrymandering. Poor fools. They just don’t know what’s good for them. So,…

Maddie the Rock-Licker Has a Hard Think

Last week, Secretary Zinke delivered his monument review to President Trump, yet the public has only been able to see a summary of the report. Specific details regarding which monuments stand possible reduction were not included. (Fortunately it seems none will be completely eliminated; however, news reports are indicating reductions for Bears Ears and Grand…

SEC. ZINKE CALLS FOR MONUMENT REDUCTIONS

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 24, 2017 CONTACT:     Madison Hayes | Alliance for a Better Utah madison@betterutah.org   – – – – – – SEC. ZINKE CALLS FOR MONUMENT REDUCTIONS – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – After nearly three months of anticipation, Secretary of the Department of…

Happy Endings, New Beginnings

We all know the man behind the curtain was the source of power for the fabled Wizard of Oz; similarly, the Alliance for a Better Utah relies on the exceptional talents of dedicated people to help bring balance, transparency, and accountability to our state. I invite you to peek behind the curtain and meet some…

Mia Love dodges town hall meetings: ‘She doesn’t want to face the voters’

Source: Raw Story and OpEdNews.com Yet another Republican is catching heat from constituents for refusing to hold town hall meetings. Representative Mia Love (R-UT) hasn’t held a town hall meeting since last fall, the Deseret News reports. Chase Thomas of the Alliance for a Better Utah said they were “a little disappointed that she keeps…

Rep. Mia Love holds ‘open house’ for constituents, asked about town hall meetings

Source: Deseret News and KSL.com Toward the end of the more than three hours Rep. Mia Love spent with small groups of constituents Tuesday, she attempted to explain why she wasn’t holding a traditional town hall meeting. “I want you to know although there are people that are like you, that want to be able…

July 2017 Interim Session Update

Another month, another day of interim session meetings up at the Utah Legislature. As always, Alliance for a Better Utah was up at the Capitol to monitor our legislators and learn more about the topics they are studying. July’s interim session consisted of meetings with the appropriations subcommittees. If you don’t know what appropriations are,…

Utah unions, education advocates organizing march in response to Trump, DeVos policies

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Utah’s largest unions will join with political advocates this weekend to stage a march in downtown Salt Lake City in support of public education. The demonstration is in response to the school-related policies and budget proposals of President Donald Trump and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to Brad Asay,…

Letter: Herrod is Trumpesque

Source: Deseret News Chris Herrod and Ronald Reagan do have something in common — good hair. That’s where the similarity ends. Cherilyn Eagar got it all wrong in her op-ed of July 15. Chris Herrod, a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 3rd Congressional District, is not Reaganesque. But he is definitely Trumpesque. He…

Press Release: Watchdog Group Sues AG for Withholding Documents

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 Center for Media and Democracy Contact: Leah Conklin, (570) 709-5952, leah.conklin@berlinrosen.com Alliance for a Better Utah Contact: Chase Thomas, chase@betterutah.org Watchdog Group Sues AG for Withholding Documents AG Reyes refuses to release records relating to his dealings with the Republican Attorneys General Association’s corporate cash-for-influence operation SALT LAKE CITY –…

Op-ed: Utah deserves to be represented in Congress by pragmatic legislators

Source: Deseret News Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to write legislation. The Senate, traditionally, has done this with aplomb, earning the moniker “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” This is what the Founders hoped for — a group of imperfect people coming together to carefully hash out difficult questions….

Op-ed: Lee and Cruz would allow insurance companies to discriminate against the sick

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Apparently, increasing the number of uninsured by 22 million wasn’t enough for Utah Sen. Mike Lee. Late last week, Lee joined his fellow extremist Sen. Ted Cruz in insisting that Trumpcare also effectively remove protections for pre-existing conditions. Cruz’s amendment would allow insurance companies to sell policies that discriminate against…

Op-ed: Sen. Lee is putting coal over Provo

Source: Deseret News “As soon as President Trump killed the Clean Power Plan back in March, he also functionally killed the Paris Accord. Both actions, contrary to the lamentations of our liberal elite, are fantastic news for the American people,” Sen. Mike Lee wrote in an op-ed in the Deseret News titled, “Trump’s decision to…

BETTER UTAH COMMENDS LT. GOVERNOR COX’S RESPONSE TO REQUEST FROM PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMISSION ON ELECTION INTEGRITY

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, July 3, 2017 – – – – – – BETTER UTAH COMMENDS LT. GOVERNOR COX’S RESPONSE TO REQUEST FROM PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMISSION ON ELECTION INTEGRITY – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – For the second time since the November election, Lt. Governor Cox has stood…

June 2017 Interim Session Update – Federalism

Commission on Federalism – 6/21 Well, the work of saving the republic progresses. At least, that’s what I think the Commission on Federalism believes it’s attempting to do. Although, the days without Ivory getting some pushback on his grandiose visions might be at an end, but more on that later. Update on Federalism Conference Representative…

2017 June Interim Session Update – Animal Shelters, Removal of Local Officials, and Free Expression

Political Subdivisions Interim Committee 06/21 The committee covered several topics: animal shelters, the removal of local officials, local government disposition of property, drafting legislation, and local government enforcement mechanisms. Animal Shelters – SB56 Senator Knudson and Rep. King in the last session introduced a amendments related to the euthanasia of animals by an animal shelter. The…

Rod Arquette Show Rundown-Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Source: Rod Arquette Show (105.9) Coming up at 4 pm today on the Rod Arquette Show on Talk Radio 105.9 KNRS, Mark J. Perry, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, joins the show to discuss how Seattle’s minimum wage hike is now hurting those it was supposed to benefit.  Plus, Dr. David Diamond, Professor…

Lee ‘not ready’ to support Senate health care bill, could be one of few GOP holdouts

Sources: Deseret News and KSL.com Utah Sen. Mike Lee is one of four Republicans who say they are “not ready” to vote in favor of the party’s health care reform legislation after it was unveiled in the U.S. Senate on Thursday. “Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this…

Op-ed: Utah lawmakers struggle with conflicts of interest

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Because Utah has a part-time Legislature, our lawmakers also have day jobs: as physicians, as attorneys, as real-estate developers. These jobs can give our elected representatives knowledge and insight into the bills they consider, but they also carry the potential for conflicts of interest. If, for example, a legislator who…

What’s the Deal with the UTDems Convention?

We all know about the importance of balance in our personal lives: eating a balanced diet can keep us healthy, and achieving work-life balance can keep us happy. And while we may not talk about it as much, it turns out that balance is important in public life, too. Balance in government, specifically, means that…

Op-ed: Utah’s governor, Legislature are both half right

Source: Deseret News In the battle over the process for replacing U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the governor and the Legislature are each half right, but their refusal to compromise is wrong for Utah. On April 19, Rep. Chaffetz announced he would not stand for re-election in the 3rd Congressional District. In the immediate aftermath, members…

Key benchmarks in President Donald Trump’s budget

Source: X News Press Nutritional assistance will be cut by $192 billion and overall welfare programs will be sliced by $272 billion, The New York Times reported. The President’s first major budget proposal, which assumes the Medicaid savings in the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) will be passed, would make $800 billion in cuts to…

Trump budget proposal cuts programs used by hundreds of thousands in Utah

Source: Fox 13 President Donald Trump’s first budget unveiled Tuesday proposes steep cuts to social safety net programs used by hundreds of thousands of Utahns, according to critics. Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, presented the plan differently, saying they will simply not raise the budget for many of the…

Op-ed: Rep. Love works for those who need health care

Source: Deseret News Politicians are notorious for making promises. Their campaigns and time in office are full of grandiose visions they claim will only come to fruition if elected or re-elected. However, most of the promises politicians carelessly make during their stump speeches eventually run into the realities of the political process, unforeseen consequences, or…

Press Release: Better Utah Responds to Special Election Timeline

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, May 19, 2017 CONTACT: Chase Thomas | Alliance for a Better Utah – – – – – – BETTER UTAH RESPONDS TO SPECIAL ELECTION TIMELINE – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – In response to Lt. Governor Spencer Cox’s announcement today laying out the timeline…

2017 Interim Session – Voter Participation Update

Government Operations Interim Committee There were a range of topics in this month’s Government Operations Interim Committee meeting, but we honed in on one major topic: voter participation. Rep. Patrice Arent presented on Presidential Primary Funding. During the legislative session, Arent and her co-sponsor, Sen. Curtis Bramble, passed a bill requiring the state to hold…

Press Release: Governor Must Ensure Full Voter Access in Special Election

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 18, 2017 CONTACT: Chase Thomas | Alliance for a Better Utah   – – – – – – GOVERNOR MUST ENSURE FULL VOTER ACCESS IN SPECIAL ELECTION – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – In response to Rep. Jason Chaffetz’ announcement that he will…

What’s the Deal with the UTGOP Convention?

Ever wonder what goes on behind closed doors, in smoke-filled rooms, as Utah’s political parties get together to organize their members, review their platforms and plan their priorities for the coming year? Well, you don’t have to wonder – the doors aren’t closed, there’s no smoke in the rooms, and the public is welcome to…

Lawmaker fires warning over process for replacing Chaffetz

Sources: Deseret News and KSL.com The conflict between Utah’s governor and state Legislature escalated Thursday after Rep. Jason Chaffetz officially announced his plans to leave Congress, with legislative leadership threatening legal action over how the vacancy is filled. Gov. Gary Herbert has said he will not call a special session of the Legislature for state…

UTAHNS TO PROTEST VISIT OF EDUCATION SECRETARY DEVOS

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, May 9, 2017 CONTACT:     Chase Thomas | Alliance for a Better Utah | chase@betterutah.org – – – – – – UTAHNS TO PROTEST VISIT OF EDUCATION SECRETARY DEVOS – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – Hundreds of Utahns are planning to protest later today…

Getting Schooled: Protesters gather outside DeVos speaking engagement

Source: Salt Lake City Weekly But for the kindness of a teacher, Layne Arguello might not have graduated from high school last year. Around January 2016, an educator at Ben Lomond High School gave the teen a roof when he faced homelessness, Arguello said, which allowed him to focus on school and go on to…

DeVos draws controversy, others talk tech education gap at summit in SLC

Source: KSL Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos drew controversy for her appearance at the eighth annual ASU+GSV summit Tuesday, which welcomed tech and educational leaders from around the world to Salt Lake City. The summit, organized by Arizona State University and Global Silicon Valley, is being hosted for the first time in Utah’s capital Monday…

Utahns protest visit of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Source: Good 4 Utah SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) The United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, was in town for a speech Tuesday afternoon and hundreds of Utahns wanted her to know she’s not welcome. The protest happened outside the Grand America Hotel. They were there to criticize the secretary for her views…

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos touts school choice, innovation in SLC while protesters gather

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Schools in the United States need to break free of the federal government’s “arcane” approach to education, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Tuesday during a visit to Utah. Education needs new models, she said, like how video rentals gave way to streaming media. And families deserve a range…

Bears Ears: Hatch, Utah delegation lead pushback effort

Sources: The Spectrum, Farmington Daily Times, and Deming Headlight After signing an executive order calling for a review of more than two dozen national monuments, President Donald Trump handed the pen to U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, crediting the Utah Republican for being a driving force behind the order. “Believe me, he’s tough,” Trump said, nodding…

Hatch does not represent millennial voters

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Many opinions have been thrown around on whether Sen. Orrin Hatch should seek an eighth term in office. As a Utah millennial, I would also like to voice my opinion. After 40 years in office, Hatch has lost sight of his responsibility as a U.S. Senator: represent his constituents. Having…

Press Release – SEAN REYES FAILS TO PROTECT UTAH STUDENT BORROWERS

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 CONTACT:     Chase Thomas | chase@betterutah.org   Salt Lake City, UT – Twenty-one Attorneys General from across the nation joined together this week to oppose recent actions from the Trump Administration repealing consumer protections for student loan borrowers. Conspicuously absent from the letter sent to Education…

Press Release – REYES LOSING PUBLIC TRUST OVER CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS

Salt Lake City, UT – Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is under fire following a recent uptick in donations from companies regulated by the FTC. Now, the good-government group Alliance for a Better Utah is asking Reyes if his campaign is complying with the procedures he has previously laid out relating to accepting and managing…

“His fair share”: SLC joins nationwide Tax Day protests.

Source: City Weekly As is custom, candidates vying for the highest office in the land reveal their tax returns as a part of the modern vetting process Americans have come to expect. But President Donald Trump has proven time and again that he isn’t one for propriety. Under the premise that he was waiting for…

City councilman resigns months after controversial run-in with police

Source: West Jordan Journal Jeff Haaga resigned from the West Jordan City Council on March 20, eight months after a alleged drunken encounter with police in which he claimed he was “protected” because of his position as a councilman. Haaga cited “personal family matters” as his reason for resignation in a letter addressed to Mayor…

Embattled West Jordan councilman resigns 9 months after alleged drunken incident

Source: KSL and Deseret News City Councilman Jeff Haaga has resigned nearly nine months after an apparent drunken encounter with police when he told an officer he had “protection” because he was an elected official. West Jordan spokeswoman Kim Wells confirmed Tuesday that Haaga sent an email to Mayor Kim Rolfe late Monday night announcing…

Chaffetz says poor people should forgo iPhones to pay for health care

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Rep. Jason Chaffetz faced a torrential backlash Tuesday about the way he framed the difficult decisions poorer Americans may have to make when it comes to their insurance under a new Republican plan to slim down Obamacare. “Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice. So rather than…

Chaffetz says poor people may need to forgo iPhone to pay for health care; Lee opposes Republicans Obamacare replacement bill

Source: Yahoo! News Chaffetz also appeared on Fox News Tuesday, where he sought to clarify his iPhone remark. “What we’re trying to say and maybe I didn’t say it as smoothly as I possibly could, but people need to make a conscious choice and I believe in self-reliance,” he said. “And they’re going to have…

Imagine if it was Democrats squeezing GOP out of state boards

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Imagine Utah is a state controlled by Democrats. Hard to picture, I know, but go with me on this for the sake of seeing things from the other side. The governor is a Democrat. All four congressional representatives are Democrats. Both senators are Democrats. There are only 12 Republicans in…

ABU Legislative Update: Appropriations to Public Lands Lobbyists, Judicial Diversity, Good Landlords

Source: KCPW Chase Thomas from Alliance for a Better Utah joins KCPW’s Roger McDonough to talk about funding requests at the legislature related to public lands and threatened species. Millions of dollars have been allocated to nonprofits lobbying the federal government on Utah’s public lands agenda, but some lawmakers want better accounting on how that…

Fierce BLM critic Mike Noel wants to lead federal agency

Source: Desert News and KSL SALT LAKE CITY — Mike Noel was a 22-year career employee of the Bureau of Land Management, working in 1996 as the project lead on the proposed Smoky Hollow coal mine when it was swept up in a monument designation. About eight months after former President Bill Clinton’s surprise creation…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH DENOUNCES VOTE TO UNBALANCE PARTISAN BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

Salt Lake City, UT – This afternoon, the House Government Operations Committee voted to favorably recommend HB 11 State Boards and Commissions Amendments. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Norm Thurston (R – Provo) would remove “the political party affiliation requirement for certain boards and commissions” on 29 of 74 boards and commissions that currently have…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH CALLS ON CHAFFETZ TO STOP INTIMIDATING ETHICS OFFICE

Salt Lake City, UT – Local government watchdog group, the Alliance for a Better Utah, is challenging Representative Jason Chaffetz for his selective use of power as Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. As reported in the New York Times, Representative Chaffetz sent a letter threatening to investigate the Office of Government…

Chaffetz criticized for going after federal ethics official who spoke out against Trump

Source: Deseret News and KSL.com Rep. Jason Chaffetz drew criticism Friday for going after the federal ethics official who spoke out against President-elect Donald Trump’s handling of potential conflicts of interest. Several government watchdog groups and congressional Democrats said the Utah Republican, who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, should stay…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH CRITICIZES FEDERAL DELEGATION FOR OFFICE OF CONGRESSIONAL ETHICS VOTE

Salt Lake City, UT – Yesterday, all four members of Utah’s federal delegation voted to change rules of the House of Representatives in such a way that would hobble the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. Josh Kanter, board chair of Alliance for a Better Utah, issued the following statement in response:   “It is striking…

Letter: Trump plays the media like a cello

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune President-elect Donald Trump is a master at understanding media. Once again, he has played the media like Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello. After Jill Stein asked for a recount in some states, Trump tweeted that he’d won the popular vote — if 2 million fraudulent votes weren’t counted. In making yet…

Heber City lawmaker confirmed as judge despite concerns from LGBT community

Source: The Daily Herald A Heber City lawmaker has been confirmed as a new Fourth District Court judge despite concerns from the LGBT community about past legislation. State Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, was confirmed Wednesday on a unanimous 25-0 vote of the Utah Senate during a special legislative session to take the bench of retiring…

Jim Dunnigan and Public Lands

Jim Dunnigan voted in favor of taking legal action leading to Utah’s control of federal lands. This bill – in its aim for state sovereignty – would mean your loss of hunting, fishing, and recreating grounds in favor of private interests. Dunnigan voted for a frivolous land grab lawsuit that would cost Utahns hundreds of millions…

Better Utah Asks Lt. Gov. to Provide Same-Day Voter Registration Information to the Public

Source: utahpolicy.com The Alliance for a Better Utah contacted the Lieutenant Governor’s Office requesting they provide Utahns with Election Day voter-registration information for those counties that will allow it this year. The request follows Better Utah’s discovery that this same day voter registration information is not readily available on the main election site for the State…

Jim Dunnigan and the Prison

Concerns about the prison relocation began as far back as 2013. City Weekly reported fears of conflicts of interest regarding unlocking land for development and connections to Sen. Niederhauser, who stood to profit from the prison relocation. As discussions continued over the following years, public comment was not considered during prison meetings, and a 2015 poll…

Jim Dunnigan and Health Care

The Salt Lake Tribune wrote an editorial in March 2016 calling Dunnigan’s Medicaid bill “a shameful admission that anti-federal, anti-poor, anti-administration politics matter more in Utah, or at least in its so-called House of Representatives, than does anything approaching human decency.” Some scathing words! Although his bill covered the neediest of the needy, thousands were…

Utah GOP chair not stepping down after CNN interview goes south

Source: KUTV Salt Lake City — (KUTV) James Evans, Chair of the Utah Republican Party, said he would not step down from his post, after he made comments on CNN that led the anchor, Carol Costello, to abruptly cut-off the interview. Evans, in trying to defend Donald Trump, went after Hillary Clinton by bringing up allegations that…

Group launches petition asking Reyes to nix battle over federal lands

Source: KSL SALT LAKE CITY — Alliance for a Better Utah initiated an online petition Monday urging Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to nix a legal battle with the federal government over public lands. The organization, which describes itself as a promoter of “balance, transparency and accountability” in public policy, says it is making the request…

W. Jordan councilman slapped with $500 fine after alleged drunken incident

Source: KSL SOUTH JORDAN — Embattled West Jordan City Councilman Jeff Haaga pleaded guilty Friday to leaving the scene of an accident after he allegedly left a bar intoxicated in July. South Jordan Justice Court Judge Clinton E. Balmforth ordered Haaga to pay a $500 fine and spend 180 days on probation for the class C…

‘He never thought he was entitled to special treatment’: West Jordan councilman pleads guilty to hit-and-run charge (with video)

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune South Jordan • Without saying more than “Yes, Sir,” and “No, Your Honor,” embattled West Jordan city councilman Jeff Haaga pleaded guilty Friday morning to leaving the scene of an accident after purportedly backing into a parked car while drunk. The plea was part of an agreement reached between Haaga’s attorney…

A Look at Gov. Herbert’s Debate Performance

I hope everyone had the opportunity to watch or listen to the gubernatorial debate on Monday night. Although maybe not as entertaining as the debate that immediately followed, the hour-long exchange between our current Governor Gary Herbert and his challenger, Mike Weinholtz, hit a variety of issues that are important to residents around our state….

Wednesday Pick-Me-Up – September 7

Better Utah had Monday off (hence the lack of Manic Monday post!), making it a little hard to believe it is already time for that midweek pick-me-up. But alas – it is Wednesday. And whether or not you are in need of that pick-me-up, here is a lovely assortment of political cartoons from the past week….

West Jordan councilman pleads not guilty to hit-and-run charge

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune A West Jordan City Council member pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of failing to remain at the scene of an accident after purportedly backing into a parked car while drunk. Jeff Haaga was cited by South Jordan police on July 19 for the hit-and-run incident at the parking…

Better Utah Calls on Councilman to Resign

A city councilman walks into a bar… …actually, he was walking out of a bar and apparently he was very drunk. So much so that he backed into another vehicle without even realizing it and drove home. Later confronted by police for leaving the scene of an accident, the councilman tried to use his position…

BETTER UTAH DISAPPOINTED WITH LACK OF HAAGA CENSURE, RENEWS CALL FOR RESIGNATION

Salt Lake City, UT – Today the Alliance for a Better Utah expressed its disappointment with the West Jordan City Council’s failure to censure Councilman Jeff Haaga. Better Utah’s Policy and Advocacy Counsel, Chase Thomas, attended last night’s West Jordan council meeting to deliver a petition to the city clerk. Over 200 Utahns signed the…

West Jordan councilman filmed drunk on body cam could face censure

Source: KUTV West Jordan City Council members will consider publicly censuring one of their own at their upcoming meeting Wednesday. Councilman Chad Nichols has proposed a resolution to condemn the “malconduct” of his colleague, Councilman Jeff Haaga. Haaga was recorded July 19 on police body camera video in which he appeared to be drunk. Officers cited him…

Editorial: West Jordan City Council member should resign after trying to hide behind his office

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune It appears that Jeff Haaga, a member of the West Jordan City Council, has taken the concept of white privilege and blown it up beyond all recognition. It’s enough for some of his fellow council members to call for his resignation. That’s exactly what Haaga should do. And right away….

Better Utah Calls on Councilman Jeff Haaga to Resign

Source: UtahPolicy.com The Alliance for a Better Utah called for the resignation of Jeff Haaga, a member of the West Jordan City Council. Haaga was reportedly cited for fleeing the scene of an accident without also being cited or arrested for having caused the accident while driving under the influence. Although members of the City…

Group calls for resignation of West Jordan councilman

Source: Deseret News The group Alliance for a Better Utah on Friday called on West Jordan City Councilman Jeff Haaga to resign and started an online petition with the same goal. On July 19, witnesses at the Black Sheep Bar & Grill, 1520 W. 9000 South, said Haaga was “obviously intoxicated” when he got into…

Group calls for councilman accused of drunk driving to resign

Source: KUTV A government watchdog agency said a city councilman, who may have been drunk behind the wheel, should resign. The Alliance for a Better Utah also said it looks like the city leader received special treatment. The council man was allegedly drinking on July 19 when witnesses say he hit a car. It is…

Jeff Haaga was cited for Leaving the Scene of an Accident July 19t

Source: Good 4 Utah The Alliance For A Better Utah called for West Jordan City Councilman Jeff Haaga to resign after he was cited for leaving the scene of an accident. The incident allegedly occurred at the Black Sheep Bar & Grill on 9000 South July 19th when witnesses say Councilman Haaga was intoxicated and…

Group calls for resignation of West Jordan City Councilman cited for hit-and-run outside bar

Source: Fox 13 News The Alliance for a Better Utah is joining with West Jordan’s former mayor to call for the resignation of Councilman Jeff Haaga, who was recently cited for leaving the scene of a crash after he allegedly hit another vehicle while intoxicated. Body camera footage showed the encounter between police and Haaga, who…

Group raises conflict of interest concerns in vote on coal port

Source: KSL.com A Utah group that advocates for greater government accountability is raising concerns that a coal company employee who sits on the state’s Community Impact Board was among those who voted in favor of a $53 million investment in a controversial Oakland, California, export terminal. The Alliance for a Better Utah is asking the…

Hard-hitting mailer targets Utah Rep. Greene’s comments on spousal rape, but is it too much?

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune A campaign mailer highlighting Rep. Brian Greene’s controversial comments about spousal rape in early 2015 has caused a backlash in his Republican primary against challenger Xani Haynie, who said she had nothing to do with the flier and Greene is unfairly blaming her for it. The progressive-leaning group Alliance For…

Governor’s primary racking up big-time donations

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Real estate developers, energy producers, health care companies and banking and finance interests have flooded Gov. Gary Herbert’s campaign with more than $2.4 million since his last election, according to an analysis of the governor’s campaign finance reports. Those four sectors have made up more than half of the $4.4…

Groups write US Attorney General asking for investigation of coal shipping terminal deal

Source: KSL Environmental groups and other organizations sent a letter Monday asking U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other high-ranking federal officials to investigate a $53 million investment in a proposed coal shipping terminal in Oakland, California. The letter was written on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper, Institute…

Groups demand federal probe into Utah role in coal port

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Several environmental groups on Monday sent a joint letter to federal authorities asking them to investigate Utah’s plan to sink $53 million of federal mineral royalties — revenue that should be dedicated to local public works projects — into a deepwater terminal in Oakland, Calif., that would ship Utah coal…

Groups write U.S. Attorney General asking for investigation of coal shipping terminal deal

Source: Deseret News Environmental groups and other organizations sent a letter Monday asking U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other high-ranking federal officials to investigate a $53 million investment in a proposed coal shipping terminal in Oakland, California. The letter was written on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper,…

BALLOTS NOT BULLETS COALITION DENOUNCES POSSIBLE VIOLENCE IN RESPONSE TO PROPOSED BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT

Salt Lake City, Utah – This past week, the Alliance for a Better Utah joined fellow members of the Ballots Not Bullets Coalition — a group of organizations from across the country concerned by the increasing use and threat of violence to influence public policy — in denouncing the possibility of armed confrontation in response…

Dem candidate calls Herbert speed-dating fundraising ‘disgusting’

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michael Weinholtz blasted Gov. Gary Herbert’s “speed-dating” tactic of campaign fundraising Friday and set aside time next week to meet with any voter to discuss any issue, without asking for campaign contributions. “It’s disgusting that the current governor would sell his time to the highest bidder in…

Better Utah Demands that Utah GOP Follow the Rule of Law

Salt Lake City – The Alliance for a Better Utah urged delegates at the Utah Republican Party State Convention this weekend to vote against a resolution to be introduced by Lowell Nelson, former vice chairman of the state Republican Party. This resolution “encourages public officials at all levels of government to nullify any federal order,…

Sen. Mike Lee home sale didn’t violate campaign finance laws, FEC says

Source: Deseret News The Federal Election Commission has found that Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, didn’t violate campaign finance laws with the short sale of his Alpine house five years ago. The Alliance for a Better Utah filed a complaint against Lee in 2014, alleging he accepted improper campaign donations from the company that took a…

Better Utah Urges Caution in Response to Senator Lee’s Running for Position of Power

Salt Lake City – Responding to the news that Senator Mike Lee (R – Utah) is running to serve as the Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-highest position in the Senate with the responsibility of helping craft the Republican Party’s policy agenda, the Alliance for a Better Utah announced that a part…

Liberal group from Utah joins Tea Party in lawsuit against the IRS

Source: Fox 13 News Politics sometimes makes for strange bedfellows. The left-leaning Alliance for a Better Utah has signed on to a class action lawsuit being brought by a number of Tea Party groups against the Internal Revenue Service over the targeting of their non-profit status. Alliance for a Better Utah claims it was also…

Better Utah delivers #StillWaiting t-shirts to legislators encouraging Medicaid expansion

Salt Lake City, Utah – The Alliance for a Better Utah delivered #StillWaiting t-shirts this afternoon to Utah legislators to emphasize the need for continued discussion on Medicaid expansion as we move beyond this legislative session. The full copy of the letter is below: Dear Senator, We first want to acknowledge and recognize the progress…

Better Utah responds to passage of HB437 in Senate committee

Salt Lake City, Utah – The Alliance for a Better Utah responded this morning to House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan’s (R – Taylorsville) bill, HB437, which was passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Standing Committee by a 5-1 vote. “This vote is the Utah Legislature telling tens of thousands of low-income Utahns…

Shocking Political Ad Targets Mia Love

Source: Utah Policy Alliance for a Better Utah takes a ham-handed swipe at Mia Love in a new television ad. The shocking ad, which you can see below, literally features an elderly woman in a wheelchair being thrown off a cliff by a man who resembles Speaker Paul Ryan while “America the Beautiful” plays. The…

Better Utah Releases Attack Ad on Love/Ryan

Salt Lake City, Utah – Today, the Alliance for a Better Utah and the Agenda Project Action Fund  released an online and television ad targeting Congresswoman Mia Love and her support for Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposed budget cuts. The ad was prompted by Ryan’s visit to Salt Lake to headline a $10,000-per-table event for Congresswoman Mia Love….

Pyle: Utahns look for ways to get around their own Legislature

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune “A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling, ‘Stop!’ William F. Buckley A Utahn is someone who stands outside the Legislature, yelling “Do something!” (I’m still trying to think of an appropriate word as cool as “athwart.”) The frustration has become so acute that folks around here are busy…

Bill to Turn Two Committees Partisan Advances

Source: Utah Political Capitol A bill that will seriously alter the political makeup of two key legislative committees advanced Wednesday. HB 220 – Legislative Organization Amendments, sponsored by Representative LaVar Christensen (Republican – Draper), would add two additional Republicans to the Legislative Management Committee and the Legislative Audit Subcommittee. At present, an equal number of…

Debate: Suing for school funding, there and here…

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Here, last week: — Alliance for a Better Utah preparing to sue state over school funding — Benjamin Wood | The Salt Lake Tribune “If Utah lawmakers won’t increase school funding on their own, maybe the courts will make them. “That’s the strategy behind an upcoming lawsuit by the Alliance…

Utah may face lawsuit over ‘inadequate’ school funding

Source: KSL Leaders of the Alliance for a Better Utah announced Monday they intend to file a lawsuit against the state to force the Utah Legislature to increase funding for public schools. The political lobbyist group points to Utah’s rankings as having the lowest per-pupil spending amount in the country, as well as cuts in…

Better Utah Legislative Update: Efforts to Restore Education Funding, Legislative Endorsements, More

Source: KCPW During this year’s meeting of state lawmakers, KCPW is joined once again by representatives from Alliance for a Better Utah for our Better Utah Legislative Update. Today Matt Lyon, strategic advisor to the group talks about what’s passed so far and about various measures to restore education funding in Utah. Listen to KCPW…

Alliance for a Better Utah preparing to sue state over school funding

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune If Utah lawmakers won’t increase school funding on their own, maybe the courts will make them. That’s the strategy behind an upcoming lawsuit by the Alliance for a Better Utah, which argues that state leaders have failed in their constitutional duty to adequately fund the public education system. “If they’re…

Better Utah commends Judge Scott Johansen for his decision to retire

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 5, 2016 Better Utah commends Judge Scott Johansen for his decision to retire – – – – – Salt Lake City, Utah – Late last week, Judge Scott Johansen retired from his position with the Seventh District Juvenile Court system. Judge Johansen’s retirement comes after a number of Johansen’s controversial…

Better Utah GRAMA requests legislator compensation in 2015 for Medicaid

Alliance for a Better Utah PO Box 521847 Salt Lake City, UT 84152 December 31, 2015 Bryant R. Howe Deputy Director Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel 350 North State, Suite 350 Salt Lake City, UT 84114   Dear Bryant R. Howe: This is a request pursuant to the Utah Government Records Access and…

Impeach Judge Scott N. Johansen

SIGN THE PETITION!   If Judge Johansen wants to act like Judge Judy, then he should get a reality TV show. In the meantime, his past and present conduct is unbecoming of a judicial officer. On November 11th, Judge Johansen ordered that a child be removed from the home of a married lesbian couple, claiming…

Utah gets D- grade in 2015 State Integrity Investigation

Source: The Center for Public Integrity Utah is a study in contradictions. Against the backdrop of breathtaking vistas from the northern Wasatch Range to the red rock arches and mesas in southern national parks, Utah projects Hollywood images of western individualism. Yet, despite an image of rugged independence, Utah politics is dominated by a unique…

Better Utah calls GOP Caucus to Action; Launches Medicaid Clock Utahns are #StillWaiting

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 Better Utah calls GOP Caucus to Action; Launches Medicaid Clock Utahns are #StillWaiting Salt Lake City, Utah – Today, the Alliance for a Better Utah will call on the Utah GOP Caucus and State Legislature to take action on Medicaid expansion. Today marks 636 days since the…

Better Utah & University of Utah School of Medicine Students to Deliver Donut Holes to Legislators to promote Donut Hole: Life in the Medicaid Coverage Gap

  Salt Lake City – The media is invited as the Alliance for a Better Utah and a group of 30 students from the University of Utah School of Medicine deliver donut holes to Utah state legislators, the Governor and the Lt. Governor at 10:00 am, Wednesday, August 19th during Interim Session at the State…

Better UTAH: Utah leaders endanger lives with further unnecessary delays

By further delaying their own self-imposed deadline, Speaker Hughes and Representative Dunnigan have again revealed their disdain for those less fortunate.

AFP is Controlled by Koch brothers

David Irvine, Salt Lake attorney, former Republican legislator, and Better UTAH board member exposes the truth about Americans for Prosperity (AFP) to Standard Examiner.

Better UTAH to Representative Dunnigan and Speaker Hughes: Utahns are #stillwaiting

Today, the United State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act, upholding nationwide tax subsidies to help low income and middle class people afford health insurance.

Better UTAH to the Constitutional Defense Council: Public financing of Lyman defense will be subject to challenge

Representative Mike Noel’s absurd plan to make Commissioner Phil Lyman’s appellate cost a public expenditure will be considered by the Constitutional Defense Council this morning at 9am in Room 210 of the Senate Office Building.

ABU Files FEC Complaint That Helps Launch Federal Lawsuit

The FEC decided to file suit against Jeremy Johnson for illegal campaign donations after ABU filed a complaint with the FEC in June 2014 over straw donations.

Niederhauser & ALEC – What UTAH POLICY Failed To Say

Utah Policy sang the praises of Sen. Niederhauser in his current position as treasurer of the corporate lobbying group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), but failed to inform readers of the troubling positions of the organization and the influential role it has on shaping state policy without any public knowledge.

Public Financing Of Lyman Defense Will Be Subject To Challenge

The Alliance for a Better UTAH woke up this morning to the news that Representative Mike Noel has pushed forward with the absurd notion that the citizens of Utah should pick up the defense costs for his friend, Commissioner Phil Lyman.

Superintendent Smith – not quite ready for primetime

A self-proclaimed pragmatist, Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction Brad Smith made pragmatically flawed comments two weeks ago when he called a rally at Capitol Hill childish and greedy: “It reminded me of when my kid was 3 years old and they started crying on Christmas morning because they didn’t get one more thing.” The…

Who is Speaker Hughes protecting?

The Healthy Utah Medicaid expansion plan is the culmination of two years of negotiations by the Governor. It has been thoroughly reviewed by the Interim Legislative Health Reform Task Force. It enjoys overwhelming public support. It has also been heard in a Senate committee and debated on the Senate floor, not once, but twice, each…

Anti-Count My Vote bill is throwback to Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed

Salt Lake City — Despite majority support for the electoral reforms enacted through the Count My Vote Compromise, some Utah legislators are continuing their attempts to gut the compromise. The latest attempt, HB313, was heard in the House Government Operations Committee today. The bill would allow party bosses to override the will of the people…

Senator Todd Weiler does good by his constituents, Count My Vote

Senator Jenkins’ attempt to delay the implementation of the Count My Vote compromise is dead as of Tuesday. The Senate voted down a third hearing of SB43 yesterday in a 9-19-1 vote. SB43 bill would have delayed the Count My Vote reforms until 2018. In discussions prior to the vote, Republican Senator Todd Weiler gave a powerful…

Keep politics out of our schools

“Politics are a curse in educational affairs, even if they contaminate only a member of some board of education, some superintendent, or some teacher,” said Karl Maeser, a noted early Mormon educator. “In all cases there is danger that the contagion will finally reach the school and the children, and spoil the work.” Currently in…

Legislature plays with fire, ignores mainstream Utahns on Count My Vote

Salt Lake City — The Senate Government Operations Committee met today to hear two controversial bills, both sponsored by Sen. Scott Jenkins, that are aimed at gutting the popular Count My Vote reforms. SJR2 and SB43 passed favorably out of committee along partisan lines, with Republicans voting for the measures. Alliance for a Better UTAH…

Secret bills make a mockery of legislative process

For a state that prides itself on being transparent, there sure are a lot of secrets. Among those secrets are over 270 bills with absolutely no text. While some of these bill are still being drafted, many of them are waiting in the aisles, hoping to go undetected until the last minutes of the session, when a seemingly innocuous, but actually…

New campaign to hold legislators accountable for Healthy Utah votes

Salt Lake City — Good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH is launching a campaign to hold Rep. Jim Dunnigan and Sen. Allen Christensen accountable for their roles in blocking Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan. Herbert’s plan, while still falling short of full Medicaid expansion, would allow access to affordable health insurance for thousands…

Government a little less opaque with new open records portal

Utah has come a long way toward making government more transparent with the release of a centralized open records portal. The state’s new, online portal allows citizens to make records requests (GRAMA requests) from one centralized location “to provide easier access to governmental records, and to serve as a resource for citizens, public officials, and members of the media…

Most Utah legislators being sold to highest bidder

Last week the Salt Lake Tribune reported on campaign contributions. According to their research, 7% of all legislative campaign contributions come from average citizens, just your everyday constituent of a senator or representative. That’s right, just 7%, or 70 cents out of every $10 donation–not even enough to buy a soda from a vending machine….

Citizens of Grand County receive 2014 Better Beehive Award

Salt Lake City – It’s no wonder that voter turnout has dropped across the state given the perception, perhaps accurate, that a vote no longer has the currency it once had before elections were awash with dark money and legislative halls with corporate lobbyists, but one rural county in southeastern Utah has determined to reverse…

Gov’s Healthy Utah Plan hits a hurdle at task force meeting

Salt Lake City — The Utah Legislature’s Health Reform Task Force opted today for more of the same by passing a motion not to recommend Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan. Herbert’s plan would provide insurance, at minimal cost to the state, to tens of thousands of Utahns who earn less than other Utahns. In light…

Sen. Mike Lee has a plan

Senator Mike Lee recently announced a five-step plan to fix Congress. That plan, as one might expect, is big on style and light on substance. Isaac Holyoak, Better UTAH communications director, took to the opinion pages of the Salt Lake Tribune to call out some of the inconsistencies in Lee’s plan. At the risk of…

Holyoak: Improvements needed in AG’s office

Like any work environment, the Utah Attorney General’s Office has room for improvement. Unlike other work environments, a history of corruption, largely due to unrestricted, dark money campaign contributions, makes improving the environment there much more difficult. In a recent op-ed in the Deseret News, Isaac Holyoak, communications director for Alliance for a Better UTAH, discussed…

The company you keep: Mia Love and Paul Ryan to team up

Congresswoman-elect Mia Love went to great lengths during her campaign to refute earlier promises she had made to do away with the Department of Education–including popular Pell grants and subsidized loans that allow many Americans to afford a college education. The assignment of her new congressional mentor, Paul Ryan, gives cause to consider whether or not her…

Super PAC Club for Growth endorses Mike Lee

Senator Lee just picked up an endorsement from the super conservative, Super PAC Club for Growth. You know, the same group that wants to impose vouchers on public education and thinks corporations shouldn’t pay any taxes at all.

Cautionary tale of the Grand County Council

Although the historic election of Congresswoman Mia Love is garnering significant attention, there is one election that has not gotten the attention it deserves–the Grand County Council election. What happened in Grand County should serve as a cautionary tale for elected officials everywhere. Shortly before the election, the Grand County Council met to hear public…

Secret bills threaten transparency in Utah

There is a saying that is often used about lawmaking–“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” While we may not want to watch, it is important for Utahns to pay close attention to the sausage making that takes place on our own Capitol Hill. Our legislative process is actually…

That one time Mike Lee shut down the Mighty 5

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character. – Horace Greeley Popularity is a curious thing. Everyone wants it–especially politicians. No elected official wants to have…

M.O. for Utah AG: sue the federal government

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– For two years, the Swallow saga filled the news. Ultimately, it was our election law violation complaint–and the subsequent investigation and recommendation of charges, that led to Mr. Swallow’s resignation. And although Swallow is no longer in…

Rep. Mike Kennedy: Access to healthcare could kill poor

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Representative Mike Kennedy, a Republican from Alpine Utah, thinks hospitals are dangerous. He made this known during a recent meeting of the Health Reform Task Force. He said, “Sometimes access to health care can be damaging and…

Questions arise surrounding Rep. Hughes’ role as UTA board chair

Salt Lake City — An audit of the Utah Transit Authority released yesterday showed gross mismanagement of taxpayer funds, leading one good government group to speak out about potential conflicts of interest between UTA and the state legislature. The audit, requested by the state legislature, will likely be the subject of intense discussion at a…

GOP chair James Evans is wrong to oppose debates

We’ve talked before about Utah’s disappointingly low voter turnout rate. We believe strongly that healthy political debate is crucial in helping educate voters and encourage turnout. With that in mind, we partnered with KCPW, a Salt Lake valley radio station, and the John R. Park Debate Society at the University of Utah to sponsor five legislative…

Utah’s commitment to transparency getting kudos

Ensuring public training, accessibility is the next step – – – – – Salt Lake City — It’s easier to find what you’re looking for in government records in Utah than it is in 44 other states, according to a new report that ranks Utah’s commitment to transparency. The Center for Data Innovation, a non-profit,…

Outrage over Geist should be directed to other causes, too

Before I start let me make one thing perfectly clear. I love my pets! I have seven children, four of which are of the furry variety, so before anyone thinks that this blog is anything other than supportive for animal rights, you aren’t actually reading it. We’ve all heard about the recent shooting of a…

Shurtleff and Swallow show the system needs reform

Utah had a first last week when not one but two former Attorneys General were arrested and charged with a dozen crimes each. Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow have been in the news steadily for the more than a year now so the charges came as less of a surprise and more of an “it’s…

Swallow and Shurtleff arrests are the beginning; new ethics laws are next

Legislature should enact new campaign finance laws – – – – – Salt Lake City–The group that filed the election law violation complaint that ended in former Attorney General John Swallow’s resignation is speaking out after learning that both Swallow and former boss, Mark Shurtleff, have been arrested this morning. Maryann Martindale, executive director of…

Complaint filed with FEC over Lee campaign donations

Wide-reaching FEC Complaint names Lee, Swallow, Johnson, McMillan, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Jane & John Doe Salt Lake City–Good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH recently filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, asking the FEC to investigate allegations that Senator Mike Lee accepted straw donations in his 2010 bid for United States…

Op-ed: Hold Recapture Canyon ATV protesters accountable

It has been nearly two months since armed riders, led by San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, rode ATVs through Recapture Canyon to protest the canyon’s closure to motorized vehicles. Isaac Holyoak, communications director for Better UTAH, penned an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune over the weekend, questioning Lyman’s claims to motorized access in…

Silence on Utah’s Capitol Hill over Gov’s Health Plan

Salt Lake City — Despite a new poll showing overwhelming support for Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan, legislators were silent about expanding health care during their monthly interim session today. Maryann Martindale, executive director of good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH, has released the following statement, calling for urgency in considering health care…

Group to file FEC complaint against Sen. Mike Lee

Salt Lake City — Search warrants obtained yesterday by the Salt Lake Tribune in the investigation into former Attorney General John Swallow revealed allegations by Jeremy Johnson that Johnson and Swallow laundered some $50,000 in campaign contributions to Sen. Mike Lee. The Alliance for a Better UTAH, whose history of monitoring election law and campaign…

Shurtleff’s rant disrespects Doug Wright’s role as a voice of reason

Salt Lake City — Former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff appeared on the Doug Wright Show this morning to proclaim his innocence, and assail his opponents, in an ongoing investigation that stems from multiple investigations into former Attorney General John Swallow. Isaac Holyoak, communications director for the Alliance for a Better UTAH, has released the following…

Anarchy is Recapture Canyon trespassers and Cliven Bundy, not marriage equality

Salt Lake City–Various news outlets have reported that Gov. Gary Herbert has called the choice by some states not to defend gay marriage bans as a step toward anarchy. The Alliance for a Better UTAH, which aims to bring balance, transparency and accountability to Utah politics, has released the following statement on Gov. Herbert’s position:…

For Utah Gov. gay marriage is a giant worth fighting

Pennsylvania’s conservative governor announced Wednesday that he will not appeal a federal court decision that invalidated his state’s gay marriage ban because he believes an appeal has little chance of succeeding. Meanwhile, Utah’s politically similar Gov. Gary Herbert, along with Attorney General Sean Reyes, has continued his crusade against gay marriage in an effort that is quickly becoming quixotic….

Utah’s Rep. Ken Ivory at center of national debate on public lands

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– The public land debate has garnered significant levels of public attention this year. If recent events are any indication, that interest is only set to increase. Several weeks ago the nation’s attention was captured when Nevada rancher Cliven…

Hold the recapture canyon trespassers accountable

Tim DeChristopher spent almost two years in prison for an act of civil disobedience when he peacefully disrupted a BLM oil and gas lease auction in Salt Lake City. The BLM aggressively pursued charges against DeChristopher. He broke the law and went to prison for it. Earlier this month, a group of protesters led by…

The week in letters: Bundy and Blanding

Federal lands policy took up much of the space in this week’s letters to the editor across the warming state of Utah. But a brief letter on voting rights is certainly worth your time, too. Bundy’s ‘nutcases’ may use women as shields So here is Cliven Bundy, building his myth on lies and cowardice. Generations…

Herbert sounds sensible on land use in Nevada

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Today’s Better UTAH Beat is not about a rancher in Nevada who has been ripping off taxpayers to the tune of one million dollars over the last two decades. It isn’t about his assemblage of a ragtag…

Holyoak: Hatch, Lee forsake vulnerable Utahns

Senators Hatch and Lee continue to demonstrate animus toward working Utahns. Isaac Holyoak, communications director for Better UTAH, argued in an op-ed this weekend in the Salt Lake Tribune that Utah’s senators are actively working against Utahns. With a combined 42 years in Washington, D.C., Senators Hatch and Lee are proving that what binds them…

The week in letters: AG Sean Reyes doesn’t get it

Homework hassles (and a teacher’s reply), AG Reyes’s mean-spiritedness and legalizing drugs in this week’s letters to the editor across the well managed state of Utah. Enough with the homework already I go to public high school, and I have had enough with all of the homework the teachers are giving out. They forget that…

The week in letters: How to purchase a politician

An itemized price list for politicians, the social science behind the Deseret New’s coverage of same-sex parenting, and how a timely windfall helped pay for the State Capitol Building in this week’s letters to the editor across the finally-sunny state of Utah. Where is the price list for politicians? I’m looking for something that might…

Campaign finance changes distort democratic processes

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Unless you’ve been living off the grid, you probably heard last week that the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional various limits on campaign donations. In McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court eliminated the aggregate limits…

Lee and Hatch turn backs on 20,000 unemployed Utahns

Salt Lake City–While the vote to extend unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed passed the Senate with bipartisan support in distant Washington D.C., here in Utah, over 20,000 unemployed Utahns are left wondering why Senators Hatch and Lee voted against the measure. Maryann Martindale, executive director of good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH,…

Follow the PAC Money: Hatch & Lee

Political Action Committees, or PACs, can have a significant influence on the outcome of an election. In this regular blog series, I look at local PACs–where they get their money and where they are sending their money. In today’s post, I look at the Leadership PACs of Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. The selected transactions…

Legislature: Do as I say, not as I do

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Do as I say, not as I do. It is a phrase many of us heard growing up as a sort of catch-all for parental behavior that didn’t quite match up with parental dictate. Perhaps you’re guilty…

Speaker Lockhart Hijacks Utah Public Education

Speaker Lockhart has officially hijacked Utah’s public education in what is being played out like a daytime hit soap opera. There’s been audience, drama, betrayal and suspense. Audience. All of Utah has watched this masquerade unfold. Drama. With Utah ranked last in the nation in per-pupil spending and second highest in the nation in teacher-student…

Constitutional accountability falls by wayside in bill that eliminates legislative review

Salt Lake City–The Legislature’s self-appointed constitutional expert, Rep. Ken Ivory, wants to make it more difficult for legislators to know whether or not their laws will pass constitutional muster. Ivory’s HJR7, Joint Rules Resolution on Legislative Review, which would eliminate what are often referred to as constitutional review notes, quietly passed the House late Wednesday…

Accountability problems do damage to democratic processes

In a representative democracy like ours, accountability occurs on two fronts. On the first front,voters are accountable to themselves. They are responsible for making good decisions about who they elect, and they are responsible for many of the choices they make in their own lives. The second front, our elected leaders are ultimately accountable to…

Dropping Swallow complaints shows Utah State Bar needs retooling

The Utah Bar Association responded today to an op-ed last week by Better UTAH board member David Irvine and Russell Fericks, former co-chair of the Utah State Bar’s ethics committee. In their earlier op-ed, Irvine and Fericks argued that the Bar’s lack of action on a Better UTAH bar complaint into former Attorney General John Swallow’s…

Fact Checking HB131, the Public Education Modernization Act

In recent interviews and committee hearings, House Speaker Becky Lockhart and HB131’s sponsor, Rep. Francis Gibson, have declared their massive education-technology expansion plan the future of Utah education. According to the two, it’s the one-size-fits-all solution. Since education-technology expansion is not a new concept–it’s been around for over a decade–I decided to do some fact…

Good government groups speak out on legislation that weakens petition process

Salt Lake City–The constitutional right of the people of Utah to petition their leaders has come under increasing attack as the visibility, and potential success, of Count My Vote increases. Good government groups Alliance for a Better UTAH and Utahns for Ethical Government have issued the following statement in response to legislation that would weaken…

In aftermath of Swallow scandal, ethics legislation more important than ever

Salt Lake City–The House Special Investigative Committee, formed to investigate former Attorney General John Swallow, met today to consider ethics and campaign disclosure legislation that would require future officeholders to be more accountable to their constituents and less accountable to their pocketbooks. Maryann Martindale, executive director of the Alliance for a Better UTAH, released the…

Rolly is wrong on Ruzicka

Paul Rolly’s op-ed in last Saturday’s Tribune, (“Notes symbolize power and the lack thereof”) is, as always, a frank analysis of the workings of power in the Utah State Legislature. He’s right that Republicans have it and Democrats don’t, but he gets it wrong on Gayle Ruzicka. For too long, anyone who isn’t an ultra-conservative has…

Let’s hope Utah Legislature is over gold fever

Better UTAH founder and board chair, Josh Kanter, took to the editorial pages of the Salt Lake Tribune over the weekend to talk about the follies of trendy legislation. Specifically, Josh takes to task the legislature’s past attempts at codifying the gold fever of popular conservative radio hosts like Glen Beck. Much of the interest…

The week in letters

From secret communist plots to calling out some of our elected leaders, here are the highlights (for better or worse) in this week’s Letters to the Editor. Weiler should apologize to rally participants Where was Sen. Todd Weiler, who represents one of the districts where some of the major polluters are located? We know that,…

ALEC likely to be influential in Utah’s legislative session

It’s not often that coverage of the American Legislative Exchange Council makes it into the local news, even though many of Utah’s state legislators are members of the secretive lobbying organization. But after the Guardian broke a story about what is often called ALEC, the little known organization made it into one of Paul Rolly’s…

Utahns get well-deserved recognition with 2013 Better Beehive Awards

Salt Lake City – Among the winners of the Alliance for a Better UTAH’s 2013 Better Beehive Awards are the journalists who uncovered former Attorney General John Swallow’s corrupt dealings, a Republican legislator who favors medicaid expansion, and an unlikely gay pride festival. Better UTAH is continuing its annual tradition of honoring groups and individuals…

And then there were 3

In case you are just emerging from your Y2K shelter, our attorney general, John Swallow, resigned. According to statute, the process for filling a statewide vacancy is for the party of the previous office holder (John Swallow is a Republican) to send 3 names to the Governor who then selects the replacement. This replacement holds…

Good government groups show solidarity in AG appointment scenario

Salt Lake City — Two good government groups joined forces today to petition Gov. Gary Herbert to appoint an interim attorney general who will not stand for reelection in November 2014. Representatives from Utahns for Ethical Government and the Alliance for a Better UTAH hand delivered a letter to Herbert asking him to avoid partisan…

Good government groups to petition Gov. Herbert to appoint interim AG

Salt Lake City — Two good government groups are joining forces today to deliver a letter to Gov. Gary Herbert, asking him to appoint an interim attorney general who will not stand for reelection in November 2014. Both Utahns for Ethical Government and the Alliance for a Better UTAH have a history of supporting strong…

Utah needs its own Cincinnatus for attorney general

The case for a replacement attorney general who won’t stand for reelection in November 2014 got an added boost with a new op-ed in the Deseret News. Maryann Martindale, executive director of the Alliance for a Better UTAH, drew upon Livy’s account of the some time Roman ruler Cincinnatus to argue for a replacement attorney…

ALEC Pledge of Allegiance

A recent investigative report by the The Guardian into the practices of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) showed that top ranking members are asked to pledge loyalty to the ALEC agenda. According to the report, state chairs, apparently including our own Rep. Ken Ivory and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, were asked to sign a…

Utah Supreme Court gets F for bad disclosure rules

The Center for Public Integrity released a report yesterday on the financial disclosure requirements of state supreme court justices. As one might suspect, Utah ranks at the bottom. In fact, Utah is one of just three states that has no disclosure requirements whatsoever. Idaho, Montana and Utah all received scores of 0–placing them dead last…

Accountability for John Swallow was a team effort

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Is John Swallow a bad man? I really don’t know. I’ve shaken his hand, but we’ve never spent more than a few minutes together and I don’t know much about him beyond the news reports that have…

Meaningful change should be focus following Swallow’s resignation

Salt Lake City — Officials with the good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH have released the following statement following Lt. Governor Spencer Cox’s decision today to suspend further adjudication into an election law violation complaint filed earlier this year by Better UTAH: “Regardless of who is chosen to fill the role of Attorney…

Turkey of the Year award goes to Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee

Turkeys will soon be gracing Utah tables as families sit down to enjoy their Thanksgiving feast, but turkeys can be found year-round in Utah, especially in government and politics. That’s why good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH polls its supporters to award an annual Turkey award to the state politician who had the…

Will Swallow get the last laugh?

Just when you think it can’t get any worse . . . When John Swallow finally resigned last week, there was little doubt that his decision had less to with his feigned indignation or unfair financial situation and more to do with the forthcoming Lt. Governor’s investigative report and his expectation of election law violation…

Report on the Investigation of Attorney General John Swallow

On March 8, 2013, Alliance for a Better UTAH filed an election law violation complaint against Attorney General John Swallow. The special investigator for the Lt. Governor’s office released the report of their findings on November 22, 2013. The report can be found HERE  

Statement regarding Lt. Governor’s report on AG’s election law violations

Salt Lake City — Good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH has issued the following statement after receiving the official report from the Lt. Governor’s office regarding an election law violation petition filed earlier this year: “The Lt. Governor’s Office released to us this morning the special investigator’s report in response to an election…

Election law violation probe should result in removal of AG John Swallow

Salt Lake City – Numerous reports are emerging that a special investigator with the Utah Lt. Governor’s office, assigned to investigate an election law violation complaint filed in March by the good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH, has chosen to recommend that State Attorney General John Swallow be charged with multiple misdemeanor offenses….

John Swallow too immature for AG’s office

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– In the ongoing scandal surrounding our state attorney general, John Swallow, the Salt Lake Tribune political cartoonist, Pat Bagley, has perhaps depicted it best. In a cartoon printed in the November 5th edition of the paper, Bagley…

Utah’s Gov. Herbert should call on state AG to step down

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, November 8, 2013 Salt Lake City — As thousands of emails, documents and calendar appointments have gone missing in the midst of a legislative investigation into the Utah Attorney General’s ethical misconduct, Governor Gary Herbert stands by and says little more than there is “cause for concern.” In January of this…

Request for litigation hold on AG’s office received, ignored

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, October 31, 2013 – – – – – Salt Lake City — In light of new evidence reported in the Salt Lake Tribune this morning suggesting the Attorney General’s Office has not retained documents crucial to an ongoing house investigation into Attorney General John Swallow’s conduct, the Alliance for a Better…

Utah State Bar neglects its duties; declines to investigate Swallow

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sunday, October 13, 2013 Salt Lake City — The Alliance for a Better UTAH learned through the media Sunday that the Utah Bar Association has decided to forgo their responsibility to investigate ethical misconduct on the part of State Attorney General John Swallow. Maryann Martindale, executive director, has released the following statement:…

Shutdown obsession

What is it they say? The first step to overcoming a problem is to admit you have a problem. Well, I have a problem. I can’t look away. I am obsessed with everything to do with the government shutdown in an almost train-wreck-fascination sort of way. I can’t get enough of headlines like: Anarchy is…

Attorney General Investigation: 1 probe down, 5 to go

Salt Lake City — The Alliance for a Better UTAH has released the following statement after receiving word that the Department of Justice has declined to prosecute State Attorney General John Swallow: “Although the Department of Justice has declined to press charges against Attorney General John Swallow and his predecessor Mark Shurtleff, there is still…

August is the worst

The 23rd president of the United States was born 180 years ago this month. Can you name the 23rd president of the United States? I’ll give you a hint. He was the grandson of the 9th president of the United States. I’m referring, of course, to Benjamin Harrison, grandson of William Henry Harrison. A one-term…

John Swallow probe could take months to complete

It was in June of last year when we first spoke with reporters about concerns we had about John Swallow and his questionable ethics. He had made claims to a telemarketer, on a recorded call no less, that when he was elected he would be moving the Division of Consumer Protection under his jurisdiction so…

An open letter to House Speaker Becky Lockhart

The Alliance for a Better UTAH has released an open letter to House Speaker Becky Lockhart following the dismissal of Rep. Lowry Snow as the Chair of the House Committee assigned to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by Attorney General John Swallow. The letter asks Speaker Lockhart, in the interest of transparency and public trust, to…

Ground Hog Day, Swallow-style

The other day I posted on our Facebook page, “You’ve got to be freaking kidding!” I wrote the statement to go along with an article I posted that talked about the potential conflict of interest with the newly appointed legislative investigative committee chair. Let me recap. After months of what seems like almost daily allegations…

Law firm must give election law complaint thorough and independent investigation

Salt Lake City — The Alliance for a Better UTAH has released the following statement after learning that the Lt. Governor’s Office has named counsel for an investigation into alleged election law violations: “Despite the law’s requirement for expediency, and our frustration at the delays, we are pleased that counsel has finally been named and…

Cost and public trust at stake if Swallowgate forces open records law changes

Salt Lake City – The Utah State Legislature will meet today to discuss amending open records laws as they pursue an investigation of embattled Attorney General John Swallow. The Alliance for a Better UTAH has released the following statement, urging caution on the part of legislators: “The cost of the numerous Federal, State, criminal, civil,…

Campaign finance limitations, disclosure database, will help rebuild public trust

Salt Lake City – Legislators will meet during tomorrow’s interim session to discuss campaign finance reform. The initial proposal would limit contributions to $10,000 for statewide offices like the Governor and Attorney General, $5,000 for legislative offices and $5,000 for the state school board. In light of tomorrow’s discussion, Maryann Martindale, executive director of the…

My view: The Swallow investigation is a chance to restore public trust

Better UTAH Executive Director Maryann Martindale and League of Women Voters of Utah Co-President Jenn Gonnelly penned an op-ed earlier this week in the Deseret News in which they expressed support for the legislature’s investigation into the John Swallow scandal. As we have watched the Swallow scandal unfold over the last several months, we have…

How do you solve a problem like John Swallow?

Last week, the Utah State Legislature met, finally, to discuss John Swallow. It is July. During the 2013 Legislative Session he was all the talk, at least in the hallways. It was during the real onslaught of the accusations, long after Bar complaints had been filed, that on the last day of the session they…

Campaign finance in Utah more transparent with new database

Salt Lake City – A new database launched by the non-partisan, good government group ABU Education Fund will shed light on campaign finance in Utah by creating a fully searchable collection of campaign disclosure statements. The database can be accessed at followthemoney.abueducation.org The open-access Utah Disclosures Search consists of raw data gathered from campaign finance…

80% say Swallowgate tarnishes Utah’s other leaders, too

There are numerous polls that demonstrate the public’s shattered confidence in the Attorney General. Now, there is evidence that the public’s lack of confidence is starting to leak into other areas of the democratic process. Our own informal polling, the results of which are similar to BYU’s recent poll, demonstrate this breakdown in public confidence. Out…

Anti-corruption rally (Wednesday, June 19) at Utah State Capitol

What: Utahns will gather at the Capitol Rotunda in a show of solidarity to protest corruption in the Attorney General’s Office. When: Wednesday, June 19, 11:00 a.m. Where: Rotunda, Utah State Capitol Who: Holly Richardson, Former legislator and blogger Jenn Gonnelly, League of Women Voters of Utah Isaac Holyoak, Alliance for a Better UTAH T.J….

Attorney General must resign for sake of public confidence

Salt Lake City — In light of John Swallow’s private entreaties with key members of the Utah State legislature, the Alliance for a Better UTAH has issued the following statement: “The allegations surrounding Attorney General John Swallow are sufficient to merit impeachment proceedings. Should Swallow feel the need to explain to legislators his side of…

With Swallow, we got what we deserved

The last six months have been full of allegations against Attorney General John Swallow. But it didn’t just start in January with the first public accusation. This saga has been going on for years, starting with Mark Shurtleff, Swallow’s 12-year predecessor. The truth is, everyone on this side of the political game knew about Shurtleff’s…

Will Swallow’s Ignorance Save Him?

One of John Swallow’s primary lines of defense is that he wasn’t aware of the full implications of what he was doing. He claims he was ignorant of the ethical (and perhaps legal) wrongdoing in his relationship with Jeremy Johnson and others who have come forward in recent months. In an interview with FOX13’s Max…

Statement regarding Lt. Governor’s Decision to Forward Election Law Violation Claims to Special Counsel for Investigation

Salt Lake City — The Alliance for a Better UTAH has issued the following statement in response to the Lt. Governor’s Office’s decision to appoint special counsel to investigate the election law violation petition filed on behalf of Crystal Young-Otterstrom and Maryann Martindale. “We are pleased that the Lt. Governor’s Office is recognizing the gravity…

Statement regarding additional John Swallow allegations; investigations must proceed

Salt Lake City — In light of additional allegations surrounding Attorney General John Swallow, Maryann Martindale, executive director of the Alliance for a Better UTAH, has issued the following statement: “A concerning pattern of allegations of unethical behavior by Attorney General John Swallow is becoming harder and harder to ignore or disbelieve. “With FBI and…

Gagging on AG-GAG

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. –Gandhi A few weeks ago, I returned to vegetarianism. Having been a vegetarian on and off for years, since my mid-teens, I’ve struggled with the contradiction between my love of animals and my love for bacon. There…

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-tea party

Better UTAH Communications Director Isaac Holyoak published an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune over the weekend in which he argues Lee’s voting record on guns is indicative of Lee’s ideological distaste for the 17th Amendment. From labor laws that made safer workplaces, to banking regulations designed to curb the influence of big money, to…

David Irvine does well on Daily Show

Better UTAH Board member David Irvine appeared on the Daily Show earlier this week to discuss the United States’ ongoing use of torture. Irvine, a former Utah state legislator, retired from the army in 2002 as a brigadier general. Previously he was on the faculty of the Sixth Army Intelligence School where he taught courses…

Governor Herbert should endorse timely resolution of all Swallow-related investigations

Salt Lake City — Governor Herbert called for the FBI to speed up its investigation regarding potential criminal wrongdoing on the part of Utah Attorney General John Swallow in his monthly KUED news conference Wednesday night. The criminal investigation is just one of at least three investigations currently underway. A complaint alleging potential violations of…

GRAMA Request: AG’s Response to Election Law Violation Petition

Better UTAH filed a GRAMA request on Wednesday for documents filed by Attorney General John Swallow related to an election law violation petition filed last month with the Lt. Governor’s Office. Those documents were received Friday morning and are available for download below. Swallow.response.4.9.13 (Initial Response) Swallow.response.4.11.13 (Correction) Timeline: March 07, 2013 – Complaint filed by Maryann…

Better UTAH statement on Attorney General Swallow’s response to election law violation claims

Salt Lake City — The Alliance for a Better UTAH has issued the following statement regarding Attorney General John Swallow’s response to an election law violation petition filed with the Lt. Governor’s Office: The facts in this case are simple. Pursuant to Utah’s election laws, two citizens filed a complaint alleging election law violations against…

Statement regarding AG John Swallow’s response to citizen election law violation complaint

Salt Lake City — Attorney General John Swallow responded yesterday to a petition filed with the Lt. Governor’s office by two Utah citizens on March 7, 2013, that alleges that Mr. Swallow violated state election laws. As required by law, the matter is currently being reviewed by the Lt. Governor’s Office. Better UTAH has filed…

On guns, Lee is clueless

A recent editorial by U.S. Senator Mike Lee in the Deseret News has me again disappointed in our elected leaders. Lee’s lectures on the constitution are usually harmless, if totally annoying and condescending, but his most recent exegesis of the 2nd Amendment should leave Utahns unusually worried about their senator. In the editorial, Lee begins with…

Attorney and petitioner statements regarding SB289, Election Offense Amendments

Salt Lake City — In light of this evening’s passage of SB289, Election Offense Amendments, the following statements have been released: David R. Irvine, Attorney: “Although they don’t have to change the law to act on our petition, the legislature’s move demonstrates their interest in resolving the Swallow matter. It is, of course, essential to…

Petition filed with Lt. Gov’s office to result in AG investigation; press statements included

Salt Lake City — Attorneys filed a petition with the Lt. Governor’s office this afternoon requesting an investigation into possible election law violations on the part of Attorney General John Swallow. A copy of the petition can be found here. Attorneys David Irvine and Alan Smith have issued the following comments regarding the statutory background…

Election Law Violation Petition filed with Lt. Gov to investigate AG

Media inquiries should be directed to: David R. Irvine Attorney for the petitioners cell.801.949.6693 / ph.801.579.0802 / drirvine@aol.com Alan L. Smith Attorney for the petitioners 801.262.0555 / alanakaed@aol.com ——— Media Advisory – Election Law Violation Petition filed with Lt. Governor’s office for investigation of AG John Swallow on Thursday, March 7 Who: David R. Irvine,…

When Transparency isn’t Transparent

In the Princess Bride, after one character repeatedly uses the same word, another character says, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Every time a legislator brings up the word transparency I find myself thinking of that quote. HB43 has been touted as a transparency bill…

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Representative Scorned

On Wednesday, the House Government Operations Committee heard testimony on Representative Patrice Arent’s HB 258, that would eliminate the straight party voting option from future ballots. There are several reasons why we supported the bill and why I spoke in favor of it, including the belief that an electorate should be well informed, that there…

State Leaders Consider Reforms as Bar Complaint Focuses on Ethics

Attention throughout the state’s political elite has turned this week to ethical concerns in the wake of the John Swallow scandal. Organizations like the Alliance for a Better Utah and Utahns for Ethical Government have lead the way in drawing attention to not only allegations of criminal wrongdoing on Swallow’s part, but also to a…

Records Preservation Request Issued in Ongoing AG Investigation

Salt Lake City — The Alliance for a Better UTAH issued a request today to the Utah Governor’s Office and the Utah Attorney General’s Office asking that both offices issue “records preservation orders” in connection with admitted and alleged activities of Attorney General John Swallow. A records preservation order functions as a quasi-litigation hold. It…

Complaint Against State AG Submitted to Utah Bar Association

Salt Lake City — The Alliance for a Better UTAH submitted a complaint today to the Utah Bar Association asking the Bar to investigate whether the state’s leading litigator has violated the Utah Supreme Court’s Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC). Attorney General John Swallow has been the subject of increased scrutiny after disgraced colleague and…

Daily Herald Publishes Opinion on Swallow

The Daily Herald recently published a statement released by Better UTAH Executive Director Maryann Martindale: Swallow’s relationship with Johnson establishes the importance of renewing the need to review the code of ethics and ethical practices applicable to all of Utah’s elected officials. Swallow’s apparent moonlighting as a consultant while being employed on a full-time basis…

More Voices Call for Swallow’s Resignation

The following is the transcript from this week’s Better UTAH Beat that aired on January 15, 2013. —- It has only been a week since John Swallow was sworn in as Utah’s new Attorney General, but he’s already facing calls for his resignation. Editorial boards of not one but two major newspapers, the Salt Lake…

Complaint to Utah Bar to Focus on Swallow’s Ethical Lapses

Calls for Utah Attorney General John Swallow’s resignation have now come from two Utah newspapers, the Daily Herald and the Salt Lake Tribune. Other organizations and individuals throughout the state, including Swallow himself, are calling for independent investigations. The Utah Democratic Party has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an…

Should Swallow be Disbarred?

Maryann Martindale, executive director of the Alliance for a Better UTAH, released the following statement today regarding recent allegations levied at State Attorney General John Swallow: “The allegations surrounding State Attorney General John Swallow are serious and deserve widespread attention. “As others call for further investigation into these matters, the Alliance for a Better UTAH…

Rolly: Utah lawmaker criticized for supporting sex offender

Paul Rolly of the Salt Lake Tribune drew attention in his column today to Better UTAH’s criticism of Rep. Wayne Harper for a letter he sent to a judge in defense of a convicted sexual abuser. Maryann Martindale, executive director of the Alliance for a Better UTAH, recently wrote an open letter to Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West…

Ben Winslow Reports on Better UTAH’s Letter to Rep. Harper

FOX13’s Ben Winslow reported on Alliance for a Better UTAH’s criticism of Representative Wayne Harper (R-Taylorsville) who last week wrote a letter in support of a convicted sexual abuser. Maryann Martindale, Better UTAH Executive Director, said Here’s a sitting legislator, standing up for a convicted sex offender, and turning his back on the victim at…

Letter to Representative Wayne Harper Regarding His Support of Man Convicted of Felony Sexual Abuse

Salt Lake City — Good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH recently wrote an open letter to Representative Wayne Harper (R-Taylorsville), chiding him for using his official capacity to intervene in a sentencing hearing of a man convicted of sexual abuse. Maryann Martindale, executive director of the Alliance for a Better UTAH, called Harper…

After Fact-checking, Mia Love’s Claims on Special Ed Funding Not True

Salt Lake City — Congressional Candidate Mia Love’s recent claim that her budget plan would not cut funding to special education programs in Utah does not hold up to scrutiny. Over the weekend, Representative Jim Matheson and Love tangled over whether or not Love’s proposed policies would be detrimental to the needs of Utah’s 65,000…

State Legislators Join Alliance for a Better UTAH in Condemning Campaign Lies

Salt Lake City — State Legislators Patricia Jones and Carol Spackman Moss joined with the Alliance for a Better UTAH Friday at the Salt Lake City Cemetery to condemn recent lies in local campaign literature. Maryann Martindale, executive director of the Alliance for a Better UTAH, condemned the hypocrisy of State Republican Party Chair Thomas…

Press Conference at Salt Lake City Cemetery to Address Campaign Lies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, October 25, 2012 Media Advisory – Press Conference (Friday, October 26) to Call for End to Campaign Lies ——— Who: Maryann Martindale, Alliance for a Better UTAH Senator Patricia Jones, Minority Whip Representative Carol Spackman Moss What: Utah legislators join Alliance for a Better UTAH in calling for an end to…

October 12, 2012 – More Fee Waiver Info

Response to an October 4, 2012 request for “A full list of all GRAMA requests, for 2011 and 2012 that have requested a fee waiver, including the full text of the actual request for information and the full and complete response from the Senate Records Officer. In addition, we are requesting a copy of any…

Better UTAH Draws Attention to Transparency Problems

Even though the Senate chose to forgo a public hearing on former-state representative Holly Richardson’s appointment to the State Records Committee, Better UTAH was able to draw significant attention to the process. See below for a list of media appearances, with brief descriptions and links. Daily Herald, October 16, 2012 Group wants Senate to wait…

State Senate Ignores Public Input; Confirms Guv’s Nominee to State Records Committee

Salt Lake City – The State Senate voted today to confirm former-state representative Holly Richardson to the State Records Committee without seeking public comment through a committee hearing. The Alliance for a Better UTAH has released the following statement: “We are disappointed with the senate’s decision to confirm the Governor’s appointment, Holly Richardson, to the…

Save A Basement, Starve a Child

Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, a candidate for the new 4th Congressional District, continues to show her usual display of hubris and hypocrisy. Be it defunding federal student aid—that she relied on—or limiting alternative pathways to citizenship—that her parents relied on—Love consistently favors repealing policies that she has previously benefited from. Now that she has…

August 22, 2012 – Fee waiver info

A GRAMA request and accompanying response for “a list of all GRAMA requests, for 2011 and 2012, that have been granted a fee waiver upon a determination that the request was being made to benefit the public or that the request was made in the public’s interest.” GRAMA Request: 22 Aug 2012

November 17, 2011 – DABC Info

A GRAMA request and accompanying response for “any and all communication between the Governor’s Office (including governor and staff) to and from then-DABC Director Dennis Kellen, for the time period: July 2010 through December 2010.” GRAMA Request: 17 Nov 2011

June 20, 2012 – Use of public funds by state legislators

A GRAMA request and accompanying response for “a detailed list of any and all conferences, meetings, seminars, or other similar event, attended by members of the Utah House of Representatives, that were paid for or reimbursed for with public funds.” GRAMA Request: 20 June 2012

June 22, 2012 – ALEC Information

A GRAMA request and accompanying response for “a list of all House members who are current legislative members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).” GRAMA Request: 22 June 2012

Results of Legislative Audit Should Nullify Governor’s Nominee to Control Board

(Salt Lake City, Utah)—Next week, the Utah legislature will again consider Governor Gary Herbert’s appointment of a top-level EnergySolutions executive to the Radiation Control Board even as a recently released report found EnergySolutions was illegally storing dozens of containers of banned waste. Dan Shrum, vice president of environmental compliance and permitting at EnergySolutions, is set…

RELEASE: While Mia Love Speaks At Convention, Not All Utahns Feel The Love

For Immediate Release: August, 28, 2012  While Mia Love Speaks at Convention, Not All Utahns Feel The Love _________________________________________________________________________  As the GOP puts the spotlight on congressional candidate Mayor Mia Love in Tampa tonight, not all Utahns are happy with Love’s plan for college students. A local Utah non-profit, the Alliance for a Better UTAH,…

McEntee: Fighting for the right to see state records — again

By Peg McEntee The question wouldn’t seem too hard to answer. Under Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act, Maryann Martindale wants a list of all requests the state has provided for free because they would benefit the public or be in the public’s interest. It’s a natural, given that the state has been awfully…

New OpEd: Utah’s Transparency Problem

Over the past year, despite the public outcry over the anti-transparency HB477, Utah’s Legislature and attorney general have quietly resumed their continuing assault on the principles of open and transparent government. Yet this assault has received little attention. During the 2012 legislative session, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, succeeded in passing SB21, which effectively stripped several…

ALEC conservatives reject charges of corporate cronyism

The American Legislative Exchange Council has found itself in the crosshairs of a national campaign from critics, but lawmakers attending the annual conference in Salt Lake City this week say they won’t be intimidated… … Twenty-five corporate sponsors have abandoned ALEC in recent months amid the public scrutiny, fueled by groups like Common Cause, the…

Was Governor Herbert Romney’s Personal Watchdog?

One little story you may have missed over the past week was Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s rather unusual quote to the National Journal, where he defended Mitt Romney’s story that the presidential candidate wasn’t working for Bain Capitol after 1999.  “I was in Utah when he was running the Olympics! He wasn’t running Bain Capital.”…

Stolen Valor Act – Lying Isn’t A Crime

After the Supreme Court ruled last week that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional, some Republicans are already moving to reconstruct the act and pass it again (“Court rejects stolen valor law, boosts Utah congressman’s idea, Tribune, June 29). Why do these elected officials, who never fail to warn of the evils of overreaching government,…

Des News/KSL Report: Better UTAH Warns Winder of “laughing off” Burwash scandal

Via the Deseret News and KSL: SOUTH JORDAN – Mike Winder’s phone started ringing about 8 a.m. Wednesday. Supporters of the Republican candidate for Salt Lake County mayor were calling to tell him they’d seen campaign signs for Richard Burwash, the fictional name Winder used in 2010 and 2011 to get stories published by local…

Leaked Phone Call Reveals Candidate Backroom Deals

Better UTAH joined Fox 13 News tonight to discuss why Attorney General Candidate John Swallow is discussing major changes to the Consumer Protection division in private meetings with donors, but not in public.  

Elected officials should perform duties with openness, transparency

Recently, the governor’s office deflected attention to the troubles at UDOT by saying, “External attempts to politicize the process are neither constructive nor appropriate. The governor has been very clear: Facts and performance, not politics, will govern the decision-making in these administrative processes.” But the Denice Graham story is as much about politics as was…

Winder’s Consequences

 Published: Friday, Dec. 16 2011 Above, West Valley City mayor Mike Winder asks a question of Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis about the eVerify law during a reception at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Thursday, August 11, 2011. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) West Valley City’s City Council reprimanded Mayor Winder for writing…