Andrew McCullough's Blog

Friday, September 19, 2014

Utah Family Magazine

My responses to questions sent from Utah Family Magazine. I do not know if the magazine has published them.

1. In relation to functions of the office for which you are running, what do you see as the 3 issues most pressing to families? How will you address those issues?

The state interferes with parents too often and too quickly.  I will work to make DCFS and other agencies more respectful of family ties and authority, and less likely to take children from the home or otherwise interfere with the family.  Only if a child is in real danger, the State should act

The state should try to keep families together when drugs or alcohol problems are present, emphasizing treatment over jail, which separates and destroys family units.  Addiction should be treated as a health problem, rather than a criminal one.   

The state should not impose its moral values on families which do not meet its definition of "traditional."  The state should not use mean spirited arguments to oppose the formation of family units (marriage) or to oppose adoptions into loving and supportive families.

2. How is your strategy different from those running against you?

I cannot speak for other candidates except to say that the present administration interferes far too quickly into very private family matters, and purports to impose an outdated moral code on "family values".  If I am elected, families will be more free to be who they are, and will not fear government interference.

3. What experience/qualifications do you possess that will help you in your efforts?

I have practiced law for over forty years, and have done much family law, including divorces, adoptions, juvenile court work and other work affecting families. I think I have gained a perspective that will help make some real changes in outlook in the relationship between the state and individual family units. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The "Utah Debate Commission" poll for AG

Today the Utah Debate Commission published its poll results. They took a poll in August of the major races in Utah, and determined who they would invited to their televised debates, using the results. They have already sent some letters out to candidates telling them that they will not be invited, based on the results, even though those results were withheld until today.

The Debate Commission previously promised to publish the results by September 15. One can easily tell why they waited until 4:57 PM today to do it. The results show that only 53.5% of their sample voters are willing to commit to one of the "major party" candidates, and that the Democratic candidate has less than 13% support! Their website disclaims the poll as a predictor of the election results. Obviously! Over 31% of voters remain undecided, and there was a whopping 14.5% support for an alternative other than the two candidates who will appear at the debate. Since it is obvious that the voters want something other than the two "major party" candidates, why doesn't the Debate Commission invite everyone, so the voters can decide for themselves?

This is just laughable. The debate set a threshold designed to include only two candidates. KSL radio and TV have long used a threshold of 15% for their debates. It is a very good thing for the Democrat that they did not do that this year.

Join me in protesting this stupid "Debate Commission". I start from a decent base of support, over 5%. I need people to help my campaign with contributions; and I need people to put up signs, "share" the news on Facebook, and otherwise help spread the word. This could be the year of total embarrassment for the two "major parties". Now, wouldn't that be fun?

Read my previous blog posts to see my stands on the legal issues in this race. If you agree, do something to help.

"You have nothing to lose but your chains."

Candidate Party Affiliation Percentage Polled
Charles Stormont Democrat 12.6%
Gregory Hansen Constitution 3.9%
Leslie Curtis Independent American 5.3%
Sean Reyes Republican 40.9%
W. Andrew McCullough Libertarian 5.3%
Other 0.3%
Undecided 31.7%

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

League of Women Voters

I received a message from the League of Women Voters this past week that they had published their annual voter guide without a response from me to the three questions they had sent all five candidates for Utah Attorney General. Well, out of those five candidates, one did respond, so I have to assume they did send out the questions, though I have no record of having received them. Apparently, neither did Attorney General Reyes (or he chose to ignore them because he sees no need to engage in a campaign). shortly after that, I received a message from an individual voter asking me why I had not responded, and giving me the questions again. So, I am going to post my response here.

1. If elected, what is the single most important thing you would do to gain back the public's trust in the Attorney General's Office?

Answer: I still don't know if either of the two previous Attorneys General broke any laws. I would like to hope not, as I rather like Mark Shurtleff as a person. He has always been friendly and decent with me. Nevertheless, he and his successor left the impression that they had favors for sale in return for large campaign contributions and/or vacations, use of expensive cars and airplanes, etc. Pictures of Mr. Shurtleff in the private jet and the Lamborghini car owned by a businessman who was under suspicion for illegal business practices were everywhere on the internet. I have no favors for sale, and I will not have my photo taken showing "conspicuous consumption". It is not my thing. If I am elected, I will strive to treat all those I deal with with equal fairness. My approach to prosecution will not be as aggressive as some. I have little interest in putting people in jail for being sick (using drugs) and engaging in other activity which essentially is none of the State's business. But I will deal firmly and fairly with those who hurt and abuse others. It will not matter if they are "party faithful" or other privileged people. If the law is too harsh, we will work to make it lees so. As one might expect, I have no large contributors, so I owe nobody any favors. That will not change.

2. Do you think the Attorney General's office has a responsibility to advise the Utah State Legislature and/or the Governor's office against lawsuits posing a great financial burden to Utah's tax payers? Please explain your position.

Answer: In Utah, as in many other states, the Attorney General represents the interests of the people, not the Governor. I intend to take that responsibility seriously. I will not defend the unlawful actions of State employees; and I will not encourage the State to believe that it should throw great resources into lost causes. It is certainly the responsibility of the Attorney General to defend a law passed by the Legislature. But endless appeals and the use of mean spirited and untenable arguments are neither necessary nor appropriate. Specifically, I would do my best to end the State's defense of the prohibition of same sex marriage. After the appeal to the Tenth Circuit, the Attorney General has certainly done his duty. Anything further is not only a waste of resources, it is an insult to many citizens of the state who do not march in lockstep with the majority on this very personal question.

3. What solutions will you pursue to prevent fraud/abuse in issues such as payday lending and business opportunity enterprises (Biz-Ops), as well as to combat identity theft.

Answer: There is nothing inherently unlawful or fraudulent about the payday lending business or those businesses which "sell" business opportunities. Obviously, if they do engage in unlawful or fraudulent practices, they should be prosecuted and shut down to protect our citizens from their practices. I have personal concerns about payday lenders. There seem to be so many of them, and they appear to make such high profits. Certainly, they must be fair and honest with their customers, who tend to be those who can not afford the high interest rates that they are charged. I am not sure the answer is to prohibit or tightly regulate them. Utah previously had a usury statute, which was repealed by the legislature. Perhaps these enterprises fulfill a real need. But I am certainly open to looking carefully at their practices and doing what is necessary to stop abusive practices. For one thing, I will take no large campaign contributions from them, and I will owe them no loyalty when complaints come in that need to be reviewed.

If you agree with my positions, tell a friend. This is not a campaign that will spend large amounts of money. I need those who like what I stand for to pass the word.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Fair Debate

August 16, 2014

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

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Equality For All

August 6, 2014

Here is my letter to Equality Utah concerning their upcoming "Allies Dinner":

A friend reposted your announcement of the Allies dinner in September. I would love to go, except of course, that I can't, because I do not see your organization as politically fair. I am the Libertarian candidate for Attorney General. Our party fully supports equality, and we announced it both at Pride and in an ad this month in Q Salt Lake. But I am cut out completely from the possibility of an endorsement, or even an acknowledgment that I exist. I understand that your organization claims to be looking for "viable" candidates, but that almost invariably means Democrats. The irony of that decision is that there are very few "viable" Democratic candidates in Utah, for major office. I concede that the Democratic candidate for AG will likely get more votes than I will; but he has no better chance than I do to win. It seems to me that a candidate who cannot get more than 35% of the vote is not really viable. I have been an active supporter of the cause for many years, as the Chair of the Libertarian Party and a long time board member of the ACLU of Utah. I stood on the capitol steps on that June day in 2003 when the Supreme Court announced its decision in Lawrence v. Texas, and I celebrated freedom. I have contributed money to the current litigation, and I have previously given money to your organization. It makes me sad that I cannot do so now.

I look forward to the time when my party is recognized as a strong supporter of the cause of equality, and we are at least acknowledged for that support. When that happens, send me an invitation to your dinner, and I will see you there.

W. Andrew McCullough
Libertarian candidate for Utah Attorney General

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

"Reforming" the process for choosing our AG

August 5, 2014

My Facebook friend Robert Gehrke wrote an article in Sunday's Trib about suggestions for changing the AG election to being nonpartisan, or appointing him, to take the politics out of it. I wrote him a letter telling him why we should not do either of those things. Here it is:

Just read your article on "reforms" suggested for the Utah Attorney General, including appointment of non-partisan election. As you well know, I have been a candidate for this office several times. It all started when a close friend was arrested and strip searched over an allegation of driving under the influence of marijuana. My beautiful friend actually had a speech impediment, which caused her to speak a little slowly, and caused the officer to write in his report: "The lights are on, but nobody's home." After the drug tests came out negative, they sent them back to the lab and told them to try again. Only at the last minute did they drop the DUI charge for lack of evidence. We sued, and the AG fought tooth and nail to protect the incompetent and vindictive officers. It seemed so simple to me that a serious mistake had been made, my client had been strip searched in a misguided attempt to find the drugs that were not there, and that the state should pay compensation. The AG did not agree. the very small settlement we got in the end only made me more angry, and I decided to run for the office myself.

Why? Because I wanted to make some major changes in the way the office operates. I want the AG to represent the people, not law enforcement. I want them to stop the mean spirited attacks on gays, and I want them to stop trying to fill our prisons with marijuana users. The way justice is administered is indeed political. A criminal prosecutor has the discretion to either prosecute to the fullest or to show mercy (and sometimes common sense) in being more reasonable. The AG has great influence in the legislature on adopting laws which may result in long prison sentences, or to suggest alternatives like rehabilitation. Many people may see me as a bit of a kook for running for this office several times without a real chance of winning. but one thing continues to motivate me in doing so: the way things are run now needs change. The war on drugs is a disaster and needs to end. Militarization of police is a terrible mistake that needs to stop. Somebody needs to say these things, and give people alternatives. It would be a serious mistake to make the office "nonpartisan" on the assumption that all we need is a good lawyer at the helm, and that it is not important to know that lawyer's philosophy concerning the use of force by the State.

Thanks for listening.

Andy
W. Andrew McCullough
Libertarian candidate for Attorney General

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Utah Debate Commission

July 27, 2014

Following is the text of a letter I sent this morning to the Utah Debate Commission, which has announced that there will be a debate between candidates for Utah Attorney General who show 10% support in an august poll.

To the Utah Debate Commission:

Thank you for sending me information on the Utah Debate Commission. Obviously, the debate format is designed to exclude "minor party" candidates, and will almost certainly exclude me. I received 5.4% of the vote two years ago, which is a decent showing for a "minor party" candidate. I may do better this year, but it is not likely that I will have reached 10% by August (a time when few people pay much attention to politics).

So, I will not participate in further interaction with your commission. I will leave you to stock your debate with "viable" candidates - Democrats who can reliably expect 25% to 30% of the vote, but will not come close to actually winning.

I learned something important in a high school social studies class many years ago. Eugene Debs ran for President 5 times on the socialist Party ticket. He did not come close to winning. A reporter asked him why he kept doing it when he had no chance of getting elected. He said his job was not to get elected, but to put new ideas into people's minds, and to "change the nature of the debate." I will not get elected this November, but Libertarians are changing the nature of the debate. On important legal issues such as the disastrous "war on drugs", marriage equality, and the militarization of our police, my party has been in the forefront of demanding change. And, on these and other important issues, we are winning. The GOP, with their religious morality, is a true dinosaur. Yes, they will win again in Utah this year; but they will lose the fight to prevent freedom.

Your guidelines simply make sure that only the old, tired, and discredited ideas of the past will be heard. The debate for Attorney General will not address the important issues and give people the opportunity to embrace real change. Shame on you and those others who work to throttle real debate. Your debate will have little merit except to give Mr. Reyes further opportunity to trumpet his intolerance and support for oppression.

Andy
W. Andrew McCullough
Libertarian candidate for Utah Attorney General
 
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