Andrew McCullough's Blog

Thursday, July 03, 2014

"Dark Money" in race fo Utah Attorney General?

July 3, 2014

Here is an article just published about financing the race for Utah Attorney general this year. Kind of rolling my eyes about the tag "perennial candidate", but I guess I have been doing this for a while. I have written about this before: that a candidate for a smaller party does not run to win, but to change minds on the issues. And we are winning on the issues. We have supported "marriage equality" for 40 years. It will not be stopped now. We have supported an end to the "war" on marijuana users for just as long. And we will win this one also. Now we must fight back on the "militarization" of our police and against the "surveillance state." So much left to do.

This weekend will be my 66th birthday. No, I really can't keep doing this much longer. This would be a great time to make a small donation to my campaign against the police state. See my website at for instructions. And tell a friend. "You have nothing to lose but your chains."

Monday, May 26, 2014

Just a brief note

May 26, 2014 As my campaign goes forward this year, I intend to write her from time to time. I admit, however, that I find the format of Facebook easier to use for short notes. If you use facebook, "like" me there at

Here is a link to an interview just published with Q Salt Lake Magazine. Pass it on to a friend.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Battle of Ideas

April 27, 2014

I have spend the last week in Albany, NY, working on a longstanding tax dispute with the State of New York. My client runs a "gentlemen's club" featuring exotic dancers. NY law imposes a sales tax on admissions to places of entertainment, but not those that feature "choreographed performances". It seems obvious to us that this is exactly what we are doing, and we won a tax hearing a few years ago over this question. The State appealed that decision, and it was reversed. We were told that we had not presented adequate proof that this is what we did; but we were welcome to try again for a new "audit period. So instead of presenting one expert witness, we presented four, in addition to several dancers and other evidence. We will not know for a few months how it went; but we feel we did make our proof. The State, of course, is expressing moral disapproval of what we do, even though one of their two auditors admitted that he has been to the club several times, to hang out withy the pretty young women. The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression; and it also requires the State to treat all of its citizens equally, even those who do not meet government approval. As the Supreme Court said in the early 1800's, "the power to tax is the power to destroy", and the State is using this power to censor us.

My law practice is pretty much dedicated to fighting the State's attempts to prosecute those of whom they do not approve. I represent several "adult entertainment" businesses; and the State constantly uses its tax, regulatory and police powers to express its disapproval. Much of this exercise of power is over reaching, evidenced by the fact that I regularly beat them in court. Nevertheless, the fight is constant.

I also spend a lot of time fighting with the state over pot smoking. When someone is stopped for a minor traffic offense, an officer may declare that he "smelled a strong odor of burnt marijuana". The odor is invariably "strong". and, of course, there is no real way to contest his statement, even if no marijuana is found in the ensuing search. Much of the country has moved away from treating this like a major crime; but not in Utah. Cars are impounded and people are jailed for what often turns out to be a Class B misdemeanor. But the damage is done. The driver's will likely be suspended, and he will have a "drug offense" on his record. This continues in the face of increasing evidence that smoking pot is not a danger to the public.

At the same time, a major battle is going on over Utah's ban on same-sex marriage. The newly appointed Attorney General claims that same sex marriage is destroying the family and harming children, though he does not show proof of this. He also says that marriage is not really about adults, but is about children. He appears to maintain that those who actually marry are secondary in importance, and that their happiness is not important. As an older adult, I find the State's position both ridiculous and insulting. It makes me angry, and I want to be heard to say: "this is just stupid".

So, I am once again a candidate for Utah attorney General. I am not campaigning for gay marriage, pot smoking or exotic dancing. I am campaigning for a society in which people can be free to live as they choose, without the State interfering with very personal choices. This year I have several opponents, all of whom, at least to a substantial degree, favor more government control over your life than the government should have. As I have said before, candidates from smaller parties are not necessarily in the race to win, but more to introduce and support new ideas, and to change the direction of the debate. And speaking of debate, Utah now has a new "debate commission" which will hold televised debates for major offices, featuring "viable candidates". I have not yet been able to find out how a viable candidate is measured. I suspect they may claim that this means a candidate who has a realistic chance of being elected. We know, of cour4se, that in most major Utah races, only the Republican has a realistic chance of being elected. this standard should disqualify all the but the Republican candidate. but that would cut off the debate entirely. Some radio and TV stations have set a 5% cutoff in some reliable poll. Well, I poled 5.4% for this very office only 2 years ago, and that should be reliable enough. So, if you believe in a more free society, help me get heard, and help us spread our ideas. In the war of ideas, we are winning. We will win on same sex marriage, and we will win on legalizing marijuana. IN doing so, we will decrease the outrageously high proportion of our population who are in jail or prison for non-violent crimes. Tell a friend.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Salt City Throwdown

April 16, 1014

Rather than write very much this evening, I am going to post a link here to a recent interview I did with the Salt City Throwdown, a podcast in Utah. We spent an hour talking about politics, my campaign, and my law practice. So, if You can find some time to listen, you will learn a lot, I hope. And then tell a friend.

Thanks, and I will post more here soon.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wild ride Continuied

Today is Christmas. It is a day of quiet in a sea of turmoil. Last night, as I got ready to go to church for Christmas Eve service, I heard the news that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals will not issue a stay of the District Court's ruling over same sex marriage. So far, Utah County (and I think a couple of others) have refused to issue same sex marriage licenses. The Utah County clerk indicated that he was waiting to see that the Tenth Circuit did about the request for a stay. Now we know; and we will see what happens tomorrow. There have been long lines of those who wish to marry. They have been very anxious, because the privilege could be taken from them at any moment. Now it appears that this will not happen. By the time the Tenth Circuit issues a ruling, there will have been thousands of weddings. It will be difficult to put the genie back into the bottle.

Meanwhile the Governor has appointed a new Attorney General, Sean Reyes, an attorney who lost in the primary election last year to John Swallow. He is, of course, going to run in the special election next year. And he will certainly put all possible efforts into overturning the two recent marriage rulings by the Federal courts. So, I watch the amazing events with great interest. If I were Attorney General, I would do what I could, within my authority, to abandon the appeals and to allow those who wish to marry the freedom to do so. I remember what Mildred Loving said regarding her ground-breaking appeal to the Supreme Court (Loving v. Virginia, regarding the right to marry someone of a different race) - that she just thought people should be able to marry the one they loved. Seems simple enough to me.

There were many who thought that the Governor should appoint someone as Attorney General who would not immediately start campaigning for election, and could give full attention to the mess in that office. He chose not to do so. Hopefully the new Attorney General will be a bit more up front with how he finances his campaign. Nevertheless, for the people of Utah, the change of direction will not be as substantial as we would hope. We will still have someone in that office who will spend taxpayer money defending State efforts to tell us how to live our private lives. He will not only fight the marriage appeals, but he will fully prosecute the "war on drugs" and put many more people in prison. I offer a change in direction, where the State is not our "big brother", and where there is more freedom. Help me pass the word. And let freedom ring!

Friday, December 20, 2013

What a Wild Ride

December 20, 2013

December 2013 has brought such changes to the legal landscape, in Utah and elsewhere, it leaves me almost breathless. Several years ago, an independent polygamist named Tom green was arrested, prosecuted and convicted of bigamy. Tom did not do anything more than many others had done without arrest, except that he refused to be quiet. An overzealous small town prosecutor went after him and won; and Tom went to prison,. The prosecutor was rewarded by defeat for re-election. My firm filed a "friend of the court" brief in Tom's support, claiming that Tom and his wives were protected by guarantees of freedom of religion and freedom of speech,. The Utah Supreme Court ruled against us.

More recently, Cody Brown and his three wives, living in my hometown of Lehi, starred in a reality show. They were not arrested, though they were actively investigated by the Utah County Attorney, making them very nervous. They sued the State in Federal Court, once again claiming that they were protected by constitutional guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion. a couple of weeks ago, the Federal Court ruled in their favor. The Judge (a law school classmate of mine) did not formally legalize plural marriage in Utah. He simply pointed out that, in the Twenty-first century, people do live together without being married in the eyes of the State. The fact that these people all each other husband or wife does not prohibit them from living as they please. Only if they wrongfully obtained multiple formal marriage licenses will they be subject to prosecution. It is a decision that is very much in line with common sense. Needless to say, however, there are those who have been very upset about this decision, saying it sends the state back to the dark ages of polygamy, They also claim that it gives comfort to those polygamists who abuse children and commit welfare fraud to support their large families. The decision does not do those things, but certainly, some see it as an attack on "traditional marriage." So, there has been a lot of discussion of it, and a lot of criticism.

Well, today the roof really fell in on the advocates of "traditional marriage". another Federal Judge invalidated the Utah law, and a State constitutional Amendment prohibiting same sex marriage. The lawsuit, brought by three same sex couples, claimed that recent Supreme Court decisions, as well as a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, made Utah's ban on the practice unconstitutional,. The Court agreed. Sometimes a court making such a momentous decision, will delay implementation of the ruling until the state considers and appeal and attempts to obtain a stay of the ruling. This decision did not do that, and was effective immediately, by its terms. County clerks in four counties started issuing marriage licenses within hours, and marriages have taken place. The temporary Attorney General is seeking an emergency stay, but it is not likely to be heard until after many more marriages are performed, Wow! The internet was ablaze with the news today, and I pretty much lost my ability to get any meaningful work done at the office.

Meanwhile, our elected Attorney General has resigned, and new information of his possible wrongdoing is released daily. The temporary Attorney General is faced with multiple crises; and he does not know if he will still be in office next week. Three Republicans picked by their party, are vying to be appointed for a year until the next general election. They all support appeals of these earth-shaking decisions; and the litigation is likely to go on and become ever more expensive. Personally, of course, I am thrilled by both of these Court decisions. The State has interfered with out personal relations for too long. If I were Attorney General, I would do my best within my authority, to end the appeals and to allow the rulings to be implemented.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Game is Afoot

November 24, 2013

Almost from the day he was elected as Utah Attorney General, John Swallow was very controversial. He was accused of various acts of misconduct in his personal finances, his campaign finances, and his dealings with those under investigation by the Attorney General's office. People stopped me on the street to tell me that, if they had only known what he was like, they would have voted for me. My personal opinion tended to be that he was a bit sleazy, but that I had no evidence of the kind of misconduct that should result in his removal from office. But for a guy who often openly displayed his credentials as an active member of the LDS Church, he did seem to be lacking in moral character.

Nevertheless, I was stunned to turn on my computer last Wednesday evening and receive a "heads up" from my Facebook friend, Robert Gherke (who writes for the Salt Lake Tribune), that criminal charges might be coming soon. And then an updated message that a resignation was possible in the next 48 hours. It all came so fast. By the time I woke up on Thursday, it was all but over. The resignation came on Thursday afternoon. On Friday, a report from special counsel to the Lt. Governor suggested several campaign violations which could be charged as crimes. Wow! And then the radio started to talk about an interim appointment and a special election. So, I got out my election code, and found that there will be an appointment by the governor, until the next general election, which will be next November. The appointment must go through the Republican State Committee, as Mr. Swallow is a Republican. Until Thursday, I had given no thought whatsoever to running for office again next year. But all of a sudden, it appears I am once again a candidate for Attorney General. I have run before as a Libertarian candidate. Last year, I received 53,000 votes, or 5.4% of those cast. My party supporters seemed to assume that I would run again; and so far I have not come up with a good reason not to run. Yesterday, the friend who supplied me with campaign signs last year, called to discuss making some new ones.

I have explained here before that I see the role of a "minor party" candidate to be that of changing the nature of the debate. Last year, my two opponents campaigned for "family values" and promised to be tough on crime. I campaigned for smaller government and more freedom. Utah is a traditional, conservative, state. We are not going to be in the forefront of change. But anyone who is observing our society can see that major changes are coming. The "war on drugs" that has put thousands of our young people in jail, is a total failure. Colorado has now legalized the sale and possession of marijuana. I have never tried it (nor have I ever tried a cup of coffee). But it seems obvious beyond debate that putting people in jail for smoking it is a disastrous policy. Marriage equality will come to this country no matter how hard the battle to stop it may be. The State simply must step back and admit that there are some areas of human activity that are not properly regulated or prohibited by the state. And rather than making plans to build a huge new prison, we should be working to downsize the ones we have. So, the game is once again afoot. We have been given a major new opportunity to make our voices heard for more freedom, and less oppression. If you agree that this is an opportunity that we should make the most of, get involved. Make a small contribution ($50 or less remains confidential), tell your friends, put a bumper sticker on your car (they are magnetic and will come right off). Find me on facebook and "like" my page (McCullough for Attorney General). Together we can "change the world", even if only a little.
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