Andrew McCullough's Blog

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Promoting Utah Democracy

Jamuary 28, 2012

As most readers would know, I am Treasurer of the Utah Libertarian Party. You also know that ours is a small party, and that we have very few big donors. A big part of our annual budget comes from Utah's income tax checkoff program. This allows anyone to donate $2.00 of their tax money to the party of their choice, by putting the appropirate letter("L") in a box near the top of their income tax form. About 2/3 of this money, of course, goes to the "dominant party"; but our party also makes enough money to help our candidates with filing fees and other simple campaign help. In order to stay on the ballot, we must poll 2% in a statewide race. In 2010, we managed to do that by a whopping 60 vote margin (whew!).

Now a Bill has been introduced in the legislature to eliminate this option. Rep. Dougall, the sponsor, says this ends forced contributions to political parties (as all taxpayers lose when one contributes). This is actually a tax increase, as it eliminates the right of a person to withdraw a very small amount of his own taxes to support his political cause. This might make some sense if the State did not heavily subsidize political parties by paying for a closed primary election. This year, the Republican Party will hold a closed Presidential Primary, which may also include primary contests for other contested races. A closed primary, of course, only allows registered members of that one party to vote. The tax checkoff program in Utah does help the Republican Party, and Rep. Dougall would say he is selfless in denying this help to his own party. But the cost of this program is about $168,000, for all parties. The cost of a closed Republican Primary to the taxpayers is about $3 million (figures supplied by the State election office). Defunding closed primaries would be the best way to achieve savings by ending subsidies. Eliminating my right to withdraw this small amount to support my party furthers the domination of one party, which does not need it. The Bill has already passed the House, and now heads to the Senate. We Libertarians believe this is OUR tax money, and that we should maintain the right to direct this very small portion of it. We also believe that the "dominant party" should pay for its own primary elections, and save REAL money for the taxpayers.

If you agree, please ask your State Senator to oppose HB 50 when it comes before the Senate. And ask him or her to defund the Republican closed primary. Then ask a friend to do the same. You can find your Senator's e-mail address by going to the legislative branch of the government in the government website,

Then please consider making the checkoff to our little party when you file your income taxes, so we can continue to give voters a real choice. In 2010, we ran candidates for office in 4 counties where Democrats did not contest Republican domination. Isn't this choice worth a little effort to preserve?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Candidate for Utah Attorney General (again)

This is my announcement that I will be a candidate for the Libertarian Party nomination for Utah Attorney General in 2012. I have perviously been a candidate for this office. In 2008, I received 38,000 votes, or 4.1%. While that did not affect the race (the Democrat did not poll very well), it helped the Libertarian Party stay on the ballot (we need 2% of the statewide vote), and it helped our party grow. As I prepare to join the campiagn again, I note that the "war on drugs" goes on, and that there is no sign that the government is winning. The government wants to extend its ability to search without warrants, to detain people without trial, and to genrally increase its power over its citizens, in the name of "safety". But I don't feel safer. Instead, I fear my government and the power that it takes upon itself to fight "wars" (on drugs, on terror, on pornography) that will never be won and will never be over.

The responsibility and opportunity of a "third party" candidate is to change the nature and tenor of the debate. Those of us who think the government already has too much power over our lives cannot be satisfied that the debate between the two "major party" candidates is likely to be over who can be "tougher on crime". If I were elected, I would concentrate on the kinds of crimes that actually affect our quality of life. The prisons would not be full of non-violent drug offenders. The citizens of this State would be more free to be different from their neighbors.

If you agree, join the fight, and tell a friend.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

War on Drugs hits home

January 7, 2012

It has been a while since I have updated this blog. Hope to do better, but so very busy fighting the "man".

This past week the War on Drugs came to Utah with a vengeance. And it was a real war. The Ogden area, like others in the State, maintains a militarized "task force", supposedly to fight drugs. These guys train for battle, are heavily armed, and wear body armor, in anticpation of a firefight. This week twelve of them planned a "raid" of a home where they reputedly had information that an occupant was growing his own marijuana (and may have sold some - it still is not clear). They broke in his door at night; and things did not go as planned. One is dead, two others are in critical condition, and three others were wounded less seriously. The community has come together for candelight vigils and other expressions of support of these heroes.

I want to make it clear right now, that this was a tragedy. It should not have happened. But I look around and I do not see any heroes, just more victims of a drug policy which creates so many of them. What possible reason was there for this military assault? Was anyone in immediate danger of serious harm? The tactics themselves make little sense. They knew who lived there, and that he worked a graveyard shift at Walmart. Why not wait until he was not home? Better yet, why not try and arrange to go there during the day and talk to him in a civilized manner? Or even better yet, why not ask if such a "raid" was even necessary? Marijuana possession is not s serious crime, even in Utah. When twelve heavily armed men charge a house with guns drawn, doesn't it seem likely that SOMEBODY may get hurt? Is grabbing a few marijuana plants worth ANYONE'S life?

I am reading a book about a man who grew up with drug addicted parents in New York. Wouldn't have had a chance in life except for a friend who helped him get out and lead a real life. The drug war went on all around him; and those police who were fighting it never had a snowball's chance in the hot place of winning. So lives were destroyed and nothing got better. I do not like drugs. I do not use them. I also do not, however, believe that I can force you to do as I do. I have wateched the drug war lose ground from the day President Nixon decared it. A whole generation of young people have been made criminals, and it is NOT getting better.

We should mourn the fallen officers; and we should mourn the man whose life has been destroyed by defending his home against a nighttime breakin by men he likely did not know were police officers. And then we should talk about how to fight the evil effects of drug addiction without destroying more lives.

Please consider doing something to help. I am gearing up to run for Utah Attoreney General. Yes, I have done this before; but this incident reminds me that we need new ideas in law enforcement. Join me in my fight for common sense. And demand a stop to the violence.
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