A Fair Debate
There has been a lot of discussion, and some anguish, this week over the fact that the Facebook Political Action Committee made a contribution of $10,000 to the election campaign of Sean Reyes. Supporters of the Democrat, Mr. Stormont, mounted an on-line petition to get their candidate a similar contribution, and pointed out Mr. Reyes' staunch defense of Utah's prohibition of same sex marriage. After fuming for a time myself, and after some thought, I sent the following letter to the Facebook Political Action Committee earlier today:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
By now, you may be aware of the controversy caused by your sizable donation, in May of this year, to the election campaign of our present Attorney General, Sean Reyes. I thought it worth this effort to inform you of some things of which you may not be fully aware.
First, Utah has become a “one-party State”, in which Democratic candidates rarely win major office, and are in a tiny minority in the State Legislature. Part of the dominance by the Republican Party is due to a huge financial advantage enjoyed by their candidates, who are regularly the recipients of large contributions from corporate interests. You may not be entirely aware that our last two Republican Attorneys General, Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow, are currently facing a number of felony counts for “influence peddling” charges, arising in part from those large contributions. Many in the state are discouraged and disgusted by what they have seen in this regard.
So, Mr. Reyes was temporarily appointed at the end of last year, and required to run for office this year in a special election. He most likely will win easily, despite the bad taste left by his two predecessors, because of the dominance of his party.
As you might guess, he is raising substantially more money than either the Democratic candidate, Charles Stormont, or I, the Libertarian Party candidate. Your contribution is one of his largest, and it just looks and feels like “business as usual” from special corporate interest groups. He doesn’t need your money, but you are certainly free to offer it. Nevertheless, to many people in this State, it looks and smells bad, especially in light of the ongoing legal battle over same sex marriage rights, which Mr. Reyes has recently appealed to the United States Supreme Court. While he says he is just doing his job, many think he has gone overboard in his mean spirited arguments that marriage “means nothing” if it just serves the adults who engage in it; and that marriage should be centered around procreation. I only wish your people had read his filings before they sent this contribution.
Well, we all know that “what’s done is done”. I, however, have a suggestion and a request. Mr. Reyes will win no matter who does what from here on. But it is important to the State of Utah to have a healthy debate. Please consider a contribution to Mr. Stormont, and also to me. I am running a serious campaign, and I have championed a more free society. The “war on drugs” has made criminals of a whole generation, and the militarization of our police has made us all less free. The State has no legitimate interest in who we love, or what we smoke in our own homes. Contributions to me and to Mr. Stormont will encourage a real debate over important societal issues. And, if you were to act to “level the playing field” a little, you would be winning a great deal of good will from those who “do not march in lockstep” in our one-party state.
I am not suggesting a contribution for my own campaign in the same amount as that given to Mr. Reyes. But it would certainly be reasonable to suggest $500 or $1,000. A like amount to Mr. Stormont would make all Utahns believe in our system a little more, and would act to remove the suspicion that “big corporate money” owns our state.
Thank you very much for any consideration you may give. By the way, I ran for this office in 2012 as well, and I received 53,000 votes, or 5.4%. I am not running to win, but to change the nature and the quality of the debate. In order to do that, I must make myself heard. It would be good for our state in general if this debate were encouraged.
W. Andrew McCullough
Libertarian Party candidate
for Utah Attorney General