Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Envision Ogden: The Standard-Examiner is Lured Down A Money Laundering Scandal Blind Alley

Hopefully Mr. Schwebke will soon get back on track... Follow, the money, Scott!

To kick off the morning discussion, we'll shine our Weber County Forum spotlight on a remarkable Scott Schwebke story in this morning's Standard-Examiner. It's remarkable, we believe, because it misses the two main issues of the Envision Ogden/FNURE money laundering scandal, which has been the subject of at least four Std-Ex articles and stories over the past few weeks.

Somewhere along the way, Mr. Schwebke has allowed himself to be distracted by the always highly vocal Godfreyite Mr. Geiger, and has let his reporting be led down an insignificant blind alley.

First, both Mr. Schwebke and Mr. Geieger seem to be entirely missing the main point of the campaign finance ordinances of Ogden City, which are intended to provide a transparent money trail for the lumpencitizens to objectively determine sources and expenditures of campaign donations, and NOT to provide campaign donors some fail-safe protection for their donative campaign contribution expectation interests, like those of Mr. Gullo. Gentle reader Dan S. does a nice job of explaining this issue in a comment under this morning's Std-Ex article:
This article fails to mention the most important difference between Youngberg's contributions and FNURE's:
Youngberg's contributions were completely open and transparent. They were reported on his disclosure statements in a timely manner, and everyone had access to these statements well before the November election.
FNURE was created for the sole purpose of concealing Envision Ogden as the principal source of campaign funds for Johnson and Eccles. It never filed a disclosure statement with anyone, and we still don't know who controlled this "organization". Envision Ogden eventually did file a disclosure statement with the IRS, but that happened several months late, well after the election.
The whole point of campaign finance disclosure laws is to let the voters know who is paying for campaigns. Johnson, Eccles, FNURE, and Envision Ogden apparently consider these laws an annoyance, rather than a legitimate part of a democracy.
Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, the Standard has entirely neglected, and the various individuals who've commented on this story have for the most part failed or refused to address what ought to have developed to be the main issue of this story, namely whether it was ethically proper and/or lawful for Boss Godfrey to have "loaned out" the Salomon Center to one political cohort (the Envision Ogden PAC) for what turned out to be a political fundraiser which provided $20 thousand in campaign funds to two other Godfrey cohorts (Eccles and Johnson.)

Utah Code Section 10-3-1108, which specifically provides that "a municipal officer or employee may not use municipal equipment while engaged in political activity," would suggest that this action may have been a violation of Utah law. Such a violation, of course would be subject to relatively harsh penalties (given the large dollar amount in question), pursuant to the provisions of Utah Code section 10-3-1013.

We find it disappointing to stand by and observe as the Standard-Examiner "takes the bait," and allows its reporting to be diverted to what we deem to be a minor wrinkle in this story at most, as it has done with this morning's Scott Schwebke writeup. Hopefully Mr. Schwebke will soon get back on track.

Follow the money, Scott!

Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones.

24 comments:

holy moley said...

The allegations by Mr. Geiger are nothing more than a well thought out distraction to take the attention away from those who allowed the use of city property to gather donations under false pretenses.

Envision Ogden used the Solomon Center to promote high adventure and out door recreation with every intention of using the money for political campaigns for people who are loyal to the Mayor.

The difference is that Mr. Youngberg’s contributors knew they were contributing to a political campaign, the donors of Envision didn’t.

Mr. Youngberg didn’t use any city or government owned property to dupe donors into contributing to a phony organization.

I suspect the Mayor is in deep trouble for handing out the keys to the Solomon Center, and his lap dog Mr.Geiger is merely orchestrating a distraction pointing fingers in all directions to take the heat off from the real violators.

OgdenLover said...

It's hard to believe that anyone could take Geiger's rambling rant seriously.

At present, once a campaign is over, there are no restrictions on how a candidate can use remaining contributions: save it for a future campaign, remodel the kitchen, take a vacation, etc. This is a flaw in our system that should be fixed, but it's our system at present.

By passing along his surplus to other like-minded candidates, Dirk was being totally ethical and within the law.

This attempt to smear an honest man is typical of the Godfreyistas. Don't forget, Dirk is a firefighter and was actively involved in their backing Susie van Hooser, Amy Wicks, Sheila Aardema, and Caitlin Gochnour in the last election. This couldn't smack of retribution, now could it?

blackrulon said...

As I understand Mr. Geiger he says that contributions to a specific candidate shpuld not go to another candidate you did not designate. My tax dollars, which support the Salomon center, were used to give a free evening to eventually support candidates. My tax dollars are to support Ogden city. They were instead used to support various political groups and candidates. That is the real question. Were tax monies used to support a certain set of ideas and candidates without approval or knowledge of the citizens?

Bill C. said...

Apparently all of lying little matty's followers believe in Garry Williams' ability to "cure". Now shortdeck geiger is seeking a cure for his inability to understand what a 5th grader, with one civics orientation can grasp.
Sometimes supporting lying little matty can make one appear autistic.

holey moley said...

Thank you Mayor for defending Youngbergs actions.

It's common for political organizations and candidates to move money around to finance election campaigns, Godfrey said.

"That's not unusual," said Godfrey, who received $600 in 2007 from funds left over from the campaign of Stuart Reid, a Democrat from Ogden who failed in 2005 to win the state Senate District 18 seat.

summers eve said...

I wonder if the Democrats who donated money to Reid's campaign are upset that a Republican Mayor benefited from them. Hmmm?

Scott said...

This is interesting:

Utah Code 10-3-826:

" 10-3-826. Official neglect and misconduct class A misdemeanor -- Removal from office.
In case any municipal officer shall at any time wilfully omit to perform any duty, or wilfully and corruptly be guilty of oppression, malconduct, misfeasance, or malfeasance in office, the person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor, shall be removed from office, and is not eligible for any municipal office thereafter."

OgdenLover said...

Scott -
The only problem is where should we begin? There are just too many choices.

Machster said...

This is where the State Attorney General (if we had one) should appoint a Special Prosecutor to look into the little lord mayor's dealings.

Carl Rove said...

"This is where the State Attorney General (if we had one) should appoint a Special Prosecutor to look into the little lord mayor's dealings."

Exactly right, Machster.

Thanks.

It will be very difficult for somebody like Mark Shurtleff to ignore this situation, as he prepares to throw his hat into the 2010 US Senate raace.

On the bright side, nailing down a small-time political criminal like Matthew Godfrey would be a wonderful feather in Shurtleff's cap, as he moves ineluctably forward toward running for Senator Bennett's senate seat.

Godfrey is expendable, in other words.

ozboy said...

Carl

"ineluctably"?

Shit-O-Dear man, it is amazing what new stuff you can learn on this blog!

When I saw your use of that word I was just sure that it was miss-spelled, or you were simply out to lunch like some on this site. So I looked it up and sure as heck it is a real word.

Thanks for the Inglish lesson!

Sick of Geigers said...

GEIGER GEIGER IM SICK OF GEIGERS RID OF THEM

wildcat said...

Anyone have any theories as to why the SE keeps ducking the Salomon Center angle of this story? They have pursued many other aspects, and have even said that they will not be taking "no comment" for an answer. But why are they not asking if Utah law was broken when Envision Ogden was allowed to hold a fundraiser at the Salomon Center? Do they think that it was not city property and hence not a violation of state law?

Tom Owens AKA Ozboy said...

Like Mr. Gullo, I too donated $500 to Youngberg's campaign. Also like Gullo I had no intentions of donating to three of the four campaigns that Youngberg gave the residue of his campaign funds to. However, unlike Gullo, I have no problem with Youngberg making said donation of these funds to campaigns of his choosing. Anyone who regularly donates to political campaigns knows full well that honorable candidates routinely do this with left over money.

I made my donation to Youngberg based on my perception of his integrity and political positions. I have no regrets for he is an honorable man who has dedicated his whole career to the safety and well being of all Ogden citizens.

Under current law any candidate can do anything they want with their campaign contributions. Honorable office seekers usually donate monies they have left over from campaigns to other campaigns or political causes, especially if they lose in the primary like Youngberg did. Mr. Youngberg did the honorable thing for which he is now being maligned by the disingenuous Mr. Geiger. (I notice Geiger did not mention his mentor/hero's, Mr. Godfrey and Mr. Reid doing the very same thing with campaign funds!) Youngberg could have just put the $1200 in his pocket and walked away, but he didn't. He in fact did the honorable thing by donating that money to the political process for which it was broadly intended.

I also think it rather dishonest of Mr. Geiger and Mr. Gullo to imply that somehow all of the money Gullo donated to Youngberg ended up in the coffers of candidates he did not support. Remember, it was only the residue of Youngberg's campaign funds that were donated to these other campaigns. In this case Youngberg's total campaign contributions were $30,000 of which he donated $1200 to these other campaigns, that is .04% of his total campaign expenditures. Pro-rated that equates to $20 of Mr. Gullo's $500 that ended up in the campaigns of the four he did not directly support, or $5 for each of those candidates. If Mr. Gullo is hard up financially or truly upset about this $20, I would be glad to reimburse it to him.

In Mr. Geiger's disingenuous treatment of this situation he would apparently have us believe that this $5 each somehow equates to the $20,000+ that Envision Ogden, through a completely illegal, funky and fictitious entity called FNURE, donated to the two campaigns of Johnson and Eccles. This sneaky manipulation of money, most of which Envision Ogden obtained through false pretenses, made up the bulk of the Johnson and Eccles campaigns. Envision Ogden of course also donated some of this sneakily obtained money to the campaign of the Mayor which in my opinion was way across the line of propriety.

I see this phony issue being brought up by the equally phony Mr. Geiger as nothing more than a bush league attempt to create a smoke screen to cover what in my opinion was the criminal conduct of Mr. Godfrey, Eccles and Johnson.

I met Mr. Geiger once and thought he was pretty bright and well intentioned. After this latest embarrassing maneuver of his I no longer believe either one. It is sad he is squandering his potential and integrity on these kinds of underhanded manipulations for the benefit of this kind of immoral political machine.

open mouthed said...

PULEEEZE - surely our Attorney General does not believe he is Senate material!

God help us.

Stop the Culture of Corruption said...

Once again the Standard Examiner and Andy Howell gets it wrong on purpose.

Envision Ogden used Ogden City property and resources illegally for fundraising.

dan s. said...

Aside from the quote that Rudi put on the front page, I don't quite know what to say about today's article.

Casual Godfrey supporters will, I suppose, skim the article and think what Geiger wants them to think: "See, the other side did it too so there's nothing wrong with Envision Ogden!"

But anyone who reads the article critically, and especially anyone who reads Geiger's letter (which is posted prominently on the S-E web site), will be confused at best and disgusted at worst. And this group presumably includes many of the former Envision Ogden supporters as well as the editors of the Standard-Examiner.

Also, this article keeps Envision Ogden prominently in the news, and that's not good for those who were involved with Envision Ogden.

So politically, on balance, I think it's safe to conclude that this article isn't having the effect that Geiger would want. Or, if you prefer, it helps further my own goal of eventually holding certain people accountable for what Envision Ogden did.

Still, I'm not happy to see this article in the Standard-Examiner. That's because by any objective standard, this article is not news. I'm sad to see our only local newspaper lowering itself to Geiger's level, taking his email rant seriously, asking grownups for their reactions to it, and even posting it on their web site. In doing so, the Standard-Examiner loses a little more of its credibility and reinforces the views of those who so often question its news judgment.

Stop the Culture of Corruption said...

The Question should be!!!

Who in the Ogden City Administration allowed Envision Ogden to raise campaign contributions using Ogden City Property and Ogden City Resources?



Did Envision Ogden have legal authority to sell tickets that were suppose to raise funds that were to have the proceeds go to Ogden City Corp.
Then somehow the funds go to politicians.

Goofey, Howell and Geiger said...

Kissing in a tree all fell out and bumped their rumps

Brett said...

We should appreciate the SE articles about Envision Ogden and Abe Shreve’s op ed By his own admission they will donate to the campaigns of those who support Godfrey's nightmare. We have to maintain the Council balance as it is. There are four seats on the Council up for election this fall so let's find and support good, honest candidates who truly want what's best for Ogden and have not been bought and paid for by Godfrey, Envision Ogden and FNURE. Candidates can file from July 1 to July 15.
Things are starting to make sense now -- Chris clearing the basin of trees and brush, Godfrey trying to hoodwink the Council into supporting an extra water tank to support a 350 condo and sports hotel development at the top of 36th St. Chris Peterson's (or was it really Godfrey's) plan modified some. Godfrey won’t tolerate another Council that votes 4-3 for the best of Ogdaen. It’s important for us to maintain the Council balance as it is

Machster said...

Rudi for Utah Attorney General.

Watch the sparks fly and the "o my heck" criminals run for cover.

democrat said...

Comment moved to top shelf.

Michael Tanner said...

Hey just a question can a city employee conduct a political activity while on the payroll?

Utah Code Section 10-3-1108, which specifically provides that "a municipal officer or employee may not use municipal equipment while engaged in political activity," would suggest that this action may have been a violation of Utah law. Such a violation, of course would be subject to relatively harsh penalties (given the large dollar amount in question), pursuant to the provisions of Utah Code section 10-3-1013.
I have pictures of city workers holding up the Arbor day sign last Friday. I was wondering does this count for the following? If a police officer refusal to identify himself or herself while possibly committing a political act can they be help accountable for it? I would like to post up pictures of people that were there baiting Bruce.

I would really like to know the answer to this if possible.
Michael Tanner
801.499.4594
mike@michaeldt.com
:P

Michael Tanner said...

Theories, I don't operate in theories in public wildcat. I do know that What ever you do you need a level of proof. Evidence. I know it seems odd now a days, but saying something doesn't make it true.

I would suggest that you look at the actual events in question. How they started who initiated them. If you want to find out how something happened when you accuse someone then work from exclusion. You try to do everything you can to exclude someone from possibly being the suspect.

I do not see much proof here in the blog and a lot of people doing gossip which is really unfair to public officials.

If you got evidence of you accusations then email them to me.
I would love to see it. I would then compare them to the public record. I would then also see to the source of the information.

Please rhetoric is not proof. It just makes you look silly.

If you have a lead on something like public corruption great. i would like to see otherwise, please keep that to yourself. Or publish your proof with your name.
Mike

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