Attorney General Revised candidate statement
October 10, 2016
Everyone knows that Utah is basically a one party state. The full weight of that knowledge, however, did not occur to me until I started working on my first financial report for the elections office for the 2016 election season. As I prepared my own report, showing very little financial activity so far, I had occasion to look at the financial situation of my Republican and Democratic opponents. The current attorney general, Sean Reyes, has received many multi-thousand dollar campaign contributions from large corporations and large law firms. He also reported $250,000 left over from his previous campaign two years ago.
Then our Democratic opponent, Jon Harper, withdrew from the race on September 21. The official “Debate Commission” televised debate was scheduled for later that day. His announcement indicated that he had health problems, and that he could not go forward. We all wish him well, but this changes the dynamics of this race substantially. The Commission, in all its majesty, decided to feature a full hour of Sean Reyes all by himself, even though I was in the audience. Now I am pretty much alone in opposing Mr. Reyes for re-election. While the Democratic candidate’s name remains on the ballot, he has ceased all campaign activity; and there is no organized effort that I can find to promote him. Some Democrats, most notably Senator James Dabakis, have now switched their support to me. We welcome them to our efforts to advocate a more free, more open, society; and our efforts to make the office of the Attorney General responsive to the citizens and the Bill of Rights.
The disparity in resources remains, and is worse than ever. The likelihood is higher than ever that there really will not be an election for attorney general in Utah this year, but simply a coronation. Mr. Reyes will spend whatever is necessary, and it will be hard for anyone else to be heard.
That is a sad situation. The democratic process thrives on an open debate and a free exchange of ideas. There has been little of that so far in the 2016 election cycle. There does not seem to be much of a choice. The die seems already cast.
So, if you have read this far, you are wondering why I even bother to be a candidate. I don’t have a lot of resources. At least up until the Democrat withdrew, I have had no illusions of victory. In the past, organizations who might otherwise support my view on the issues have automatically endorsed the Democratic candidate on the assumption that he has a better chance of winning. I am still hoping that people and organizations that normally support Democrats will support me and will help me make a race of it. Time is short; and so is money. But there is still substantial value in doing what we can to give the people a choice, and making an effort to be heard. The current attorney general is a strong religious conservative. During the recent Court actions over same sex marriage, he made that most obvious. At great expense to the taxpayers, he hired a team of LDS attorneys from out of state to make the argument that marriage is not about individual love, but is designed for raising children. In making that argument, he appeared to discount the value of marriage between older people who cannot raise children, as well as those who might have medical problems. He simply failed to recognize the whole concept of enduring love between two individuals of whatever sex. That just didn’t seem so important.
The current Attorney General wants to preserve the drug war, and apparently thinks that putting more people in jail will actually remove drugs from society. He ignores the fact that the whole thing has been a total failure since Richard Nixon first declared it. The continued arrest and detention of marijuana users in particular is a travesty of justice. Our side will win this war. The days of marijuana prohibition are numbered. But I am the only candidate for Attorney General who will say this. Possession and use of marijuana needs to be decriminalized, and it needs to be done now. Not only does the current Attorney General vigorously defend this irrational criminal scheme, but he regularly uses it as grounds to remove children from their parents. Nobody with any common sense still believes that this is good policy. But, once again, I am the only candidate who will come out and say it.
In the recent legislative session, the current Attorney General opposed civil forfeiture reform, endorsing “policing for profit” which deprives people due process of law. His general support for “Law and order” brings us closer to a police state.
At the very least, it is important that those who decent from the 19th century views of the current administration make as much noise as possible. Marriage equality is here to stay, and nobody can stop that. Legalization of marijuana, at least for medical purposes is inevitable. Change will come, despite what the current attorney general and his allies may do to try and stop it. We can encourage change, we can help it move along and we can change the nature of the debate. Please join me in doing what we can to be heard. Make a contribution if you can. Tell your friends and neighbors the good news. Help us put up signs, pass out literature, and use social media to spread the word. The Republican Party’s immense financial and organizational advantage can be slowly eroded, if we work at it. We cannot expect anyone else to do it for us. Do what you can. We have nothing to lose but our chains.