Sunday, September 19, 2010

Governor Herbert still rakes in the dough, but.....

he managed to give a generous 1.4% of the haul to charity. Bravo Gov'na'

There a few who discussed the allegations of shady financial deals against the Governor made by Mayor Corroon. In a show of unrivaled civil political dialogue, master of GOP ethics and quid pro quo payolas, Dave Hansen (you remember, the guy who kept taking 5,000 dollar a month payments from Senator Hatch after he was also hired as Utah GOP chairman) said this:
“They’re not happy with the attacks on the governor. They really aren’t,” Hansen said. “They want somebody to rip Corroon’s head off. They do not like to see this kind of campaigning.”
Fred Lampropoulos, who's company is a party to one of the questionable arrangements that the state made after Governor Herbert received a donation, said:
“(I'm)mad as hell.”

Corroon has questioned whether Merit’s $50,000 contributions played a role in the company receiving $4.4 million in tax incentives if it creates 700 new jobs.

“We did it to help a governor we think has a vision on economic development,” Lampropoulos said.

He said his company has also given money to Corroon’s mayoral campaign and the mayor’s office approved a $12 million economic development incentive at the county three years ago.

Corroon's campaign manager retorted:
Dunn said the county was one of three entities, along with the school district and the city, that had to approve that incentive. And, he said, the donations were not nearly as large or in the same time frame as the approval.
Dave Hansen is a buffoon, and one of the least qualified people to opine on campaign ethics. While working for Hatch, he willingly participated in a employment tax scam by falsely classifying himself as a subcontractor rather than an employee of the Hatch Senate Committee. After he was elected as Utah Republican Party Chairman he continued to take 5,000 dollar a month payments from Hatch for over a year. Quid pro quo should be his middle name.

Fred Lampropoulos' revelation about his donation to Corroon raises reasonable questions. He gave to both candidates, and he also had business dealings with both governments, when is this improper? In the case of Governor, timing has been an issue. Alton Coal made a donation and got a meeting with the Governor in the same day, soon after the company's strip mining permit was approved in an expedited manner. Another issue is the manner that contracts are awarded. In the case of the Provo Corridor project, the contract appears to have been won by Provo River by a slim margin. Coupled with the massive payola to the losing bidder, the state certainly looks guilty of impropriety regarding the Provo Corridor bid process.

I guess the big question, other than did the governor really act in an improper manner, is what is an acceptable campaign finance policy? The governor's policy of giving private meetings to 50,000 dollar+ donors, a policy the governor has continued despite the recent allegations from his challenger, has led outsiders to question whether or not those donations are crossing over the line to bribery especially when those donors end up receiving large state contracts or concessions after making their payouts.

I think Corroon's suggestion to limit campaign contributions to a cap, would be a logical step to avoid the appearance of impropriety at the state level of government.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Governor Herbert v. Mayor Coroon -- An Argument That the Herbert Camp CAN Make

Since the Kern Gardner argument failed, I thought I would mention a point of impropriety from the Corroon camp.
Salt Lake County's spokesman is getting a reprimand for an e-mail he sent from his county e-mail address.

Jim Braden is Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon's communications director and acts as the mayor's spokesman.

Deputy Mayor Nicole Dunn confirms that Braden sent out an e-mail with a list of negative press clippings about Gov. Gary Herbert. Braden used his county e-mail address. Corroon is challenging Herbert for Utah governor.

Herbert's brilliant campaign manager who says Herbert is as "honest as the day is long" (a rather subjective description -- I find that the day is often short. So, in Herbert's case I guess it works regardless) was quoted as follows:

Don Olsen, says he wants Mayor Corroon to publicly stand up and admit what happened in his office. Olsen also wants both Braden and Corroon to be reprimanded.

"It's wrong for an employee who's being funded by the taxpayer to do campaign work, especially on taxpayer-funded equipment and on taxpayer-funded time," Olsen said.
Unfortunately for Olsen, the Corroon campaign has already done just that:
Mayor Corroon quickly responded to Braden's e-mail, saying what Braden did was wrong and telling him not to do it again, Dunn said.
How sad. Herbert's manager Olsen almost had something that he could roast Corroon on, but Corroon took the initiative to own the story before it made the press or (God forbid) he ended up looking like an idiot learning about the email in front of the press at a news conference.

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.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Governor Herbert v. Mayor Coroon -- Governor For Sale

Yikes -- That didn't go well!

When political candidates keep flashing video of people saying how honest and honorable they are I tend to doubt the message. It appears that Governor Herbert isn't going to disappoint us in this regard either.

Yesterday, the governor held a press conference with some cheerleader, who's-who from Utah politics to answer questions from the Corroon camp claiming that the governor may have been taking campaign contributions in a "pay-to-play" fashion. In the course of the conference the head of UDOT disclosed that a losing bid competitor in the infamous Utah County project was paid 13M dollars in a protest settlement -- the winning bid was from a group of contractors who had all made donations to the governor.
“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Herbert said.
This isn't the first time this has happened -- Corroon called a similar issue into question after the Governor accepted a donation from a coal mining company seeking permits in Southern Utah and the permits were coincidentally fast-tracked. The governor denied impropriety in that event as well.

If there was nothing improper about the Utah county project's bid award as the head of UDOT claims, why did the state settle and pay the losers 13 million dollars? Governor Herbert is either a liar or a terrible manager. Even if the governor didn't have anything to do with the settlement or the award of the bid, payment of such a large sum in settlement reeks of impropriety and corruption.