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 such a blatant display of naked greed. It is the very example of what is wrong with career politicians,” Weinholtz said in a statement.

The Democrat’s outrage came the day after The Salt Lake Tribune reported on a meeting Herbert and his campaign team had Wednesday with a group of lobbyists and supporters. In it, lobbyist Doug Foxley told his fellow lobbyists that the governor had recently met for 20 minutes each with seven of Foxley’s clients who contributed to Herbert’s campaign.

Foxley and Herbert’s campaign finance director, Liv Moffat, suggested the approach as an easy way to get clients to donate to the campaign and to get one-on-one time discussing issues with the governor, numerous individuals who attended the meeting told The Tribune.

At the event, one lobbyist raised concerns about companies paying for access to the governor, and Herbert said that there would be “no quid pro quo” as a result of the donations.

The Herbert campaign has set a goal of raising $1 million before June 1, and has a golf tournament, a shooting event and other fundraisers to try to pull the money together.

The Alliance for a Better Utah said the governor’s fundraising tactics lay bare the reality of money in modern politics.

“Whether by accident or whether it was intentionally done, he pulled back the covers and acknowledged that this is how it works. Money buys access and access buys influence,” said Rachel Sanders, executive director of the alliance, a progressive advocacy group. “We constantly talk about people not being engaged and people not voting and I think it’s clear why people don’t get involved. … They don’t vote because they don’t have access and they don’t have influence.”

Weinholtz, meantime, set aside three hours, beginning at 1 p.m. Wednesday, when he said he would meet at his campaign headquarters, 193 W. 2100 South, to discuss concerns with voters.

“I’ll talk with every Utahn — citizen or business owner — when they want to talk, about what they care about, and I won’t charge them money to do it,” said Weinholtz.

The governor’s campaign spokesman, Marty Carpenter, defended the fundraising effort, saying Herbert is not independently wealthy and, unlike his Republican primary opponent, Jonathan Johnson, doesn’t have his own millions or a blank check from one supporter.

Johnson is the chairman of the board of Overstock.com and the company’s CEO, Patrick Byrne, has given generously to the campaign.

The Johnson campaign called Herbert’s tactics a brazen pay-to-play scheme and said the “Chicago-style politics” are not the Utah way.

Read the Salt Lake Tribune article here.

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