Andrew McCullough's Blog

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.

W. Andrew McCullough
Libertarian candidate for Attorney General
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