Sunday, May 31, 2009

Walsh: Capitalist, Mormon, Dad -- and Under Indictment

More serious political blowback for the Utah GOP pro-school voucher faction

There's more on the simmering Shurtleff/Wimmer/Koerber scandal from Rececca Walsh's column this morning, in the Salt lake Tribune:
Walsh: Capitalist, Mormon, Dad -- and under indictment
Gentle reader Curmudgeon boils it all down, and offers this savvy story summary, in a lower comments section:

Walsh suggests in her column, which deals with the Wimmer/Shurtleff scandal --- their alleged efforts to shield a major right-wing supporter from investigation --- that, in order to understand why Wimmer and Shurtleff were willing to intercede on behalf of Koerber, we take "Deep Throat's" advice: follow the money.

From Walsh's column:
Koerber... and his stable of Franklin Squires companies and board members gave more than $500,000 to the state Republican Party and individual pro-voucher candidates in 2006.
Follow the money...
A full year-and-a-half after the Utah voters' repudiation of Utah's radical school voucher program, the pro-voucher, (ideologically corporo-fascist) faction of the Utah Republican Party continues to suffer serious political blowback.

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


drewmeister said...

Shocking, utterly shocking. Who'd of thought, a con-man here in Zion?

Keisha said...

Looks like Shurtleff's Senate campaign is already toast.

Democrate said said...

Shutleff will deny, deny, deny, then blame someone else. He will squeak by since he is a Republician and LDS.

Curmudgeon said...

On the theme of whether an entirely un-regulated business community [without government oversight] can be relied upon to act honorably, ethically --- or even legally --- when its own interests are involved, there is another story in this morning's SL Trib worth a look. [Link here.]

From the story:

Lots of employers in these tough economic times are illegally cutting costs by misclassifying some workers as independent contractors. The tactic... is sapping millions of dollars from the state's unemployment-insurance fund, tax coffers and workers' compensation fund, say Utah regulators. It's also making it difficult for aboveboard companies to compete.... those who are cheating the system are also sapping money from public schools and higher education, which receive all of Utah's employment taxes. How is it possible for possibly hundreds of thousands of workers to be misclassified, so their employers can avoid paying social security taxes for them, and avoid withholding income taxes as well? Easy. The state legislature has made sure Utah does not have enough investigators to deal with the problem. Again, from the story:

Officials in charge of investigating the various violations involved say they can't do much about the problem. The same shaky economy that makes it tempting for employers to illicitly shave expenses is leaving regulators with staffs far too small to nab thousands of offenders.... The Utah Department of Workforce Services employs 24 full-time auditors to keep tabs on employees and companies. The agency conducts about 1,500 audits a year -- a third of which deal with misclassified workers.

"We have enough leads to keep 50 more auditors busy if we had them, but we focus on the bigger violators," Starks said. "With limited resources, we have to prioritize how to use them....

Utah State Tax Commission spokesman Charlie Roberts said that he'd like to have undercover investigators infiltrate questionable businesses. But, he said, there's no money for that.
Of course there's no money for that. Rep. Wimmer and his legislative cronies, not to mention AG Shurtleff, would doubtless consider adequate investigation and vigorous prosecution to be harassment of legitimate businessmen [and campaign contributors.]

I'm going to file a clipping of this story so I can have it handy next time someone starts telling me we can rely on business to self-regulate.

Ozboy said...


I was wondering just when the WCF was going to pick up on this Shirtless/Koerber story - which very well may become the biggest political story of the year - if the press keeps after it that is. The story goes to the heart of how morally bankrupt the Republican party has become here in Zion and is indicative of the corruption right here in Emerald City.

And Mr. Curmudgeon, this "independent contractor" stuff is not new or news, it has been around for a long time and is not really at the heart of the current economic crisis like some public trough sloppers would have us believe. There are a whole lot of businesses that would not exist with out "independent contractors". The financial burden that all of the different government, and quasi government agencies (think WCF - workers compensation fund) agencies put on small businesses, including the huge amount of reporting, is more than a lot of them can support, so their choice very often comes down to hiring "independent contractors" or going out of business.

Curmudgeon said...


The distinction between "independent contractor" and "employee" that the story lays out seems a reasonable one to me. [If you work, full time, for only one employer who sets your hours and duties, you are an employee, not an independent contractor.] And no, I don't think "business conditions" make it OK to pretend employees are independent contractors so you don't have to pay your share of their SS tax, or withold taxes from their pay, or provide any other benefits.

The point seems to be to me that the practice is against the law. The labor laws are on the books for a reason. We know what happens when business is given free reign to set wages, hours, working conditions, as it pleases. It's called "the Gilded Age" and what happened then to ordinary employees is the reason we have both labor laws and labor unions.

The laws can, of course, be changed. But unless and until they are, "times are tough, so wink wink nudge nudge you guys are all now independent contractors" isn't going to cut it.

Of course there are independent contractors... legitimate ones... and have been for a long time. Those are not the people the story is talking about. It's talking about the ones who are not independent contractors but who employers pretend are such.

And, Oz, no where did I suggest the abuse of independent contractor status was "at the heart of the current economic crisis." But it does seem to be a problem in Utah, and employers who abuse the practice are costing the state, and public education, money. That this problem won't solve all our economic woes, or even most of them, or even many of them, is no reason not to find a way to solve this one. [Letting the perfect become the enemy of the good is not wise legislative practice.]

Anonymous said...

Ideally and roughly, any person should be free to work for, or employ, any other person at any time, for any legal purpose, without encumbrance, levy or requirement of public notice.

That declared, we reflect: some of the most unusual, and short-term lucrative income flows, are structured around independent contractors.

We think this facilitates a hasty disappearance for the management, should the independent contractors, without advice or instruction by said management, run afoul of the law.

retard vs retard said...

Shurtliff vs Bennett

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