Friday, September 17, 2010

Governor Herbert v. Mayor Corroon -- The Kern Gardner Issue

Since Herbert's botched news conference, there the Herbert camp and some right-wing bloggers have tried to defend the Governor with a logical leap regarding the Mayor's relationship with businessman Kern Gardner:

Corroon is vocal in his support for ethics UEG style, yet he abuses his office as county mayor, says the governor’s mansion is for sale and that contributions of $50,000 should raise red flags, he himself is – wait for it – taking contributions of $50K from a company doing business with the county.

Kem Gardner’s company – Gateway Associates – developed & owns the Gateway as well as residential, commercial and retail in Salt Lake County. Salt Lake County owns property at the gateway including Clark Planetarium. The county pays Gateway Associates, Kern Gardner pays Corroon’s campaign. Nice.

However, there is a difference between the Mayor's receipt of donations from Kern Gardner and his Gateway contract with Salt Lake County. Peter Corroon has been Mayor of SLCo since 2004, Gateway Associates has had active contracts with Salt Lake County since at least -- wait for it -- 2002. That's right, Gardner has a business relationship with the county renting space for Clark Planetarium, however that relationship was initiated prior to Corroon's election as Mayor. Gardner's donations to Corroon and the Gateway contract have no legitimate connection.

There is no problem giving money to a candidate for public office even if the donor has or might in the future have business dealings with the government. However it is improper for a elected official to accept donations and to provide those donors with perks in the form of tax breaks, expedited permit approval, or large contracts.

Sorry Herbert and right-wingers, Herbert is the only one with (possible) dirty hands here. Herbert received a donation from Alton Coal and met with the company on the same day -- coincidentally Alton's permit for strip mining was expedited for approval a short time later. The Guv met with Fred from Merit Medical, received a donation, and Merit received 4.36M in state tax breaks.

Last but not least, Provo River contractors gave Herbert cash and subsequently won one of the largest Utah state contracts in history. To keep the losers quiet, UDOT paid 13M dollars to the losing bidders.

Conversely, Mayor Corroon accepted a donation from a Democrat businessman whom the county has had a contract with for many years and will continue to have a contract with many years after the Mayor has left office. The donation to the Mayor had no (from a reasonable person standard looking from the outside in) bearing on the SLCo - Gateway Associates contract. It requires a logical leap of epic proportions to draw any conclusion to the contrary.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Great post! I read the accusations you are commenting on here and was interested in finding the whole truth. Thanks for your continued efforts here.