Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Quick Rebuttal to My Friend Laura Warburton's Shallow and Ill-considered Anti UEG Ethics Petition Hit Piece

Punchin' holes in the arguments (so called) contained in Laura's anti-UEG petition gibberish

We gotta give our GOP friend Laura Warburton credit. As a convirmed diehard Weber County Republican lemming who's plainly committed to toein' and obeyin' the pre teaparty era Bob Bennett era Utah GOP party line, she's tryin' hard... real hard... to be a loyal trooper. Nevertheless, we're compelled to punch holes in the flimsy arguments contained in this anti-UEG petition gibberish that's she's circulating around the internet, even whilst intellectually honest, ethics-minded folks like we are busy circulating the UEG Ethics Reform Petitions all around Weber County.

Just to give credit where it's due, we came upon Laura's anti-UEG Petition screed, thanks to our good friends at Ogden Valley Forum:
Say no to the UEG Petition? Local resident says we need to
We'll examine Laura's "points" one-by-one, and make every effort to remain respectful whilst we do this, since she's a friend of ours, (as we said):

1) a) Utahns for Ethical Government (UEG) Officers – The power players behind the petition... Evil Schoolteachers
b) Where was the petition first introduced? A Convention of Evil Schoolteachers, who are are planning a political Coup

Here's our first quick rebuttal. It's the same old "schoolteachers are evil" wacko real estate industry ad hominem meme. Many hardcore GOP operatives still haven't gotten over Utah citizens' killing of "School Vouchers." And I'm sure many of us remain mystified about how, exactly, the "Evil Schoolteachers" could somehow pull off a "coup" by the passage of this much-needed, and politically neutral ethics reform legislation. Sounds like paranoia is running amuck here in Utah, and that some extremist GOP operatives need to sit back and take a VERY deep breath.

"Just a few of the most questionable aspects of the petition", sez our pal Laura.

Here's another "good one":

1. Petition claims and accusations – The petition makes many erroneous damaging claims without offering one reference for verification. For example: Utah is ranked 47th worst in the nation in ethics. (Pg 2)

Here's the online reference, Laura. Read up!
Louisiana, Mississippi Movin’ Up; 20 States Still Flunk
2. Money – The petition states there are no monies appropriated for this bill yet on the last past it calls for $472,000 dollars each year to pay for support staff and a lawyer. In addition, the petition states that the 5 commission members will receive a per diem. (Pg 1 & 21)

Hate to break it to ya's Laura, but the reason there are not any appropriations yet is because the citizens's initiative hasn't been made into law yet. If the initiative is eventually enacted into law, the appropriation(s) that you mention will only then become the obligation of the legislature.

3. Formation of the independent ethics commission – The petition calls for a 5 person independent commission. The commission is to be chosen by the two leaders in both the House (1 Republican, 1 Democrat) and the Senate (1 Republican, 1 Democrat). They must agree on 20 people who are qualified to serve on the commission. Then, on a specified date, those twenty names are put on separate pieces of paper and put in a hat. Then, 5 names are drawn from the hat creating the first 5 members of the commission. Members serve varying lengths of time.
When their term expires, they are replaced by the same process.
But, what if these four opposing leaders can’t decide? Pay careful attention. This is the most alarming aspect of this petition.

First off, Laura, do you actually believe the leaders of both legislative majorities and minorities won't be able to pick 20 qualified nominees? The reserved appointment power of the petition sponsors is a wonderful "catch 22" which guarantees that the system will never have to resort to "plan b," in our never humble opinion.

4. Can a lobbyist serve on the commission? ... So, the answer is YES.

Wrong. For all intents and purposes, Laura, the answer is no. In truth, a five year "cooling off period" is a pretty good guarantee that a retired lobbyist has given up his "old ways." Most states limit the cooling off period to two years.

5. Who does the commission answer to? – No one.

Wrong, Laura. The "independent commission," would be a mere fact finding and advisory body, (with no prosecutorial powers of its own), which would directly answer to the legislature, which means there would be an ideal and direct "check and balance." If you'd read the proposed legislation a little more closely, you'd recognize that the legislature would retain the power either to adopt or reject the evidence and recommendations presented by the "commission." Sorry, Laura... with all due respect, you're hopelessly wrong about this.

6. Where are the defined rules? – There are only a few defined rules for the independent commission. The petition actually relegates rule making to the commission, again making them a law unto themselves.

Wrong again, Laura... there are robust ethics rules set forth in the body of the document. Of course the ethics commission would also have to abide by general "due process" rules, which are amply set forth elsewhere within the body of rules governing Utah and American jurisprudence.

7. Swift or lengthy process? – The petition grants the commission contradictory time limits to bring a case to a close. Legislators might find menacing accusations hanging over their heads during the campaign season giving opponent’s added ammunition. What if the accusations are not true?

That's actually the beauty of it, Laura. All evidence and investigatory results will be held confidential, unless and until the Ethics Committee's accusation is made. This protects the unjustly accused from having accusations tried in the press. It's a wonderful safeguard for the unjustly accused. We're frankly astonished, Laura, that you don't recognise this.

8. Consequences – “(3) Any conduct which violates the code of conduct shall be deemed in every instance to be one or more of the following: (i) a felony; (ii) a breach of the peace; (iii) an action outside the ordinary course of legislative business; (iv) an action beyond the scope of a legislator’s official duties.” A felony? There is nothing written in the petition that states this is only a suggestion to a higher court. What an easy way to circumvent the voting process and remove unwanted legislators from office not to mention greatly damage a person’s life. (Pg 14)

Any referral to law enforcement would be independently weighed by prosecutors. And during the investigatory phase, it would rightly all remain confidential. This is how it works in the criminal justice system. And are you arguing that possible criminal cases ought not be forwarded to appropriate law enforcement authorities?. If no crime has been committed, there will be no prosecution. Would you have it any other way, Laura?

9. How can the commission gather information about a claim? – “The commission may gather information by any appropriate means, including the issuance of subpoenas in order to compel the production of documents and the attendance and testimony of witnesses, and for any purpose under this Act.”. And….. “Testimony may be taken at public hearings or closed….” Closed door investigations? Subpoenas? (Pg 10)

The beauty of the system would be that the commission would have all necessary investigative tools at its disposal, just like an analogous "Grand Jury." Proceedings would not of course be "secret" to individuals under investigation, yet proceedings would not be made public, and thus reputations will not be impaired in the event that the ethics commission brings no accusations. Just like any other preliminary investigation, the privacy rights of investigated individuals would not be violated under the new proposed system.

10. Who can be a legislator? – No one that owns a business or is a control person in a business. (Pg 10)

Wrong again Laura. That's pure B.S. Referring to the text of the Citizens' Ethics Initiative, here's the actual language:

i) Beginning January 1, 2013, no legislator, while serving in office, may be a control person of any corporation where (A) status as a legislator was a contributing factor in such selection as a control person and (B) being a control person in such corporation furthers any personal interest of the legislator.
By no means does this provision generally prohibit a business owner from being elected or serving as a legislator. The provision merely guards against corporate insiders furthering private interests by virtue of their elective status.

And so on and so forth, et cetera.

We could definitely go on... but why bother?

We think you all got the point.

Just sign the petition. folks. Once again, here are the places where you can affix your signatures, provided you're not creeped-out by all the knuckleheaded scare tactics:

Weber County
• Joyce Wilson (Senate District 18) 979 27th Ogden, UT 801-941-1613
• Ogden-Weber UniServ (Senate District 18) 939 25th St Ogden, UT 84401 801-399-3746
• Lou Shurtliff (Senate District 19) 5085 Aztec Dr Ogden, Ut 84403 801-479-028 lmshurtliff@comcast.net
• Dr. Ed Allen’s office 3860 Jackson Ave. Ogden, Utah

Let's get this issue on the ballot folks, and let the people decide.

That's how it's supposed to work in America, no?



I love you, man.

Some elephants never forget said...

I assume the ethics overhaul hater Laura Warburton is the same wingnut that equates allowing your child to listen to an address from the President of our country as a giant step toward communism.

Obama's speech to schools is inappropriate

She's also the same bird that squaks about development infringing on her peaceful enjoyment of her Ogden Valley home, yet seems to have no problem with good old boy real estate lobby representatives. Some people deseve what they put up with, unfortunately it can have a negative effect on their neighbors.

One who wants ethics said...

Some Elephants; good post on her letter.

Anyone who thinks they have divine parent rights is usually too busy to actualy be a good parent. They leave too much to fate and not enough hands on. Typical parent who allows their kids free run in a store or restaurant. I may be wrong as I'm not perfect, but education and free agency goes hand in hand.

Is she on the Eagle Forumn phone tree?

nutcase watcher said...

More Laura Warburton logic:

May 12, 2010: Back in Black - Glenn Beck's Nazi Tourette's

nutcase watcher said...

More twisted Warbuton-style political "logic":

March 18, 2010: Conservative Libertarian


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