Sunday, March 29, 2015

Salt Lake Tribune: Mormon Church Lobbying in Utah’s Capitol — Hardball or Light Touch?

Hopefully the Trib will continue to keep the fire to the "800-poind Gorilla's" feet

Interesting story in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune, which follows up on our own our own March 20, 2015 WCF writeup, wherein we called into question certain troubling tactics which LDS leaders and their legislative lobbyists allegedly employ on Utah's Capitol Hill. Here's the Lee Davidson and Matt Canham lede, folks:
Former state Rep. Carl Wimmer has ignited a fiery debate within Utah's political circles by accusing the LDS Church of bullying Mormon lawmakers on such controversial topics as illegal immigration, alcohol and, likely, the new law to protect gay and lesbian residents from workplace and housing discrimination.
A couple of former legislators back Wimmer, who recently left the LDS Church to become an evangelical Christian. A far larger group of Mormon lawmakers — including former Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, who sponsored immigration restrictions the church disliked — say they have never experienced the kind of heavy-handed tactics described by Wimmer in a blog post.
The one-time Herriman lawmaker's claims range from meetings between LDS Church lobbyists and select lawmakers that he compared to Mormon priesthood interviews, to an allegation that his ecclesiastical leader contacted him directly to pressure him to vote for a bill favored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
At its core, debate about Wimmer's assertions show how individual lawmakers respond differently to political persuasion delivered in the name of revered religious leaders. And in a state where more than 80 percent of legislators are Mormon, LDS positions can virtually assure passage of a bill or stop it in its tracks.
Read the full story, folks:
Although this morning's Trib story really doesn't break any new ground beyond the anecdotal evidence which former House Representative Wimmer revealed in his original March 19, blog post, Trib staffers do shine the spotlight on this particularly distressing elemant which also raised our own eyebrows back on March 20:
Additionally, Wimmer said church lobbyists and House leaders conducted meetings to apply pressure that members derisively called "PPIs," or personal priesthood interviews, a name the LDS Church gives to private member consultations held by leaders, and which Wimmer had himself participated in as an elders quorum president.
He said he spoke with a House colleague who told him "what he had just experienced was an intense, closed-door meeting with select members of House leadership and LDS Church lobbyists who made it abundantly clear that when HB116 [the guest-worker bill] came up for a vote, he was to support the bill, period."
Here are a few probing comments from the Trib comments section:
Alex: "I'd say its on a level extremely higher than hardball."
Glen Bryson: "Can we please tax this ridiculous church already? I'm really sick of them using their power to influence legislation that doesn't have anything to do with them in the slightest. How in the blazes is a religion allowed to have lobbyists in the first place?"
Bretyss: "As I was reading what Wimmer said, I thought, "This has the ring of truth." Then when he offered to take a polygraph, the bell rang louder. Thank you, Carl Wimmer? I wish the LDS Church was as honest as you are now."
Kudos to the Trib for picking up on this story and exposing it to their extremely broad Utah reader audience. Hopefully the Trib will continue to keep the fire to the "800-poind Gorilla's" feet, on an issue which should have been broached years ago.


blackrulon said...

I note that a religious orginazition has 7 registered lobbyists

blackrulon said...

You have to start somewhere in decrying the effects of lobbyists on the Utah legislature. Unlike the lobbyists for various industries the LDS lobbyists cover themselves with religion. The importance of Mr. Wimmers reveelation is to tell just how much effort the LDS church put forward in submiting on denying legislation that impacts not only their church but all non members. Not every decision or choice from the COB is a revelation from God but a attempt to make all Utah citizens obey LDS doctrine.

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