IF THIS ETHICS BILL PASSES, UTAH WILL CEASE TO EXIST AS A FREE STATE
I attended a town hall meeting last night where Senators Howard Stephenson and Curtis Bramble went through the text of the Government Ethics Reform bill citizens initiative. Under the guise that Utah legislators need ethics reform, made popular by the press mobbing of Greg Hughes a year ago (who was innocent but the accusers got great coverage right before his election battle and almost knocked him out), this group of “concerned citizens” has drafted a bill that WOULD GIVE THEM NEARLY UNLIMITED POWER TO CONTROL UTAH LEGISLATORS.
THIS BLATANTLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL BILL WILL DESTROY THE REPUBLIC AND GIVE ULTIMATE PUNITIVE POWER TO A SMALL GROUP OF NON-ELECTED PEOPLE SETTING UP AN INTERNAL OLIGARCHY IN UTAH WITH NO CHECKS OR BALANCES ON THEM
-This bill says that if Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on 20 people to potentially serve on an ethics committee, “the sponsors (those unelected people who wrote the bill)…unanimously shall select the 20 candidates.“
-If the bill becomes law, the only way a member is removed is “by reason of death, disability, resignation, or disqualification” meaning there is no expiration or legislative process to remove a committee member.
-They can investigate current legislators as well as “those who have served at any time in the past“.
–What is written into law is only the beginning of their powers (“This Act shall be construed liberally in furthance of its remedial goals.”)
-Further down we read the commission is vested with “power and jurisdiction…to investigate…and to do all things, whether herein specifically designated or in addition thereto.“
-“The commission may employ additional staff” meaning they can self-bloat without legislative or executive oversight
-“Although the commission serves the legislature and is not an agency within the executive branch of state government, the commission nevertheless shall have the powers and shall adopt the procedures of the Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act. This rulemaking power shall include the power to make rules governing the internal processes of the commission (meaning they are self-governing with legislative and executive authority)…”
-The commission may “[issue] subpoenas in order to compel the production of documents and the attendance and testimony of witnesses” (more executive powers)
-“The commission shall meet, allocate its budget (legislative function), marshall its resources, prioritize its work, and conduct its business as it deems appropriate, and its independence in this regard shall not be abridged, impaired, or threatened by the legislature, any committe of the legislature, or any legislator.” (ULTIMATE POWER–THEY BECOME THE UNTOUCHABLES)
-Legislators will need to annually disclose “the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any person with which the legislator has an agency relationship, including any client of a legislator…[from whom they’ve received at least $10,000 in the prior year].” (This will violate confidentiality agreements between professionals and their clients and is a violation of law)
-“A legislator may not be charged with misconduct which occurred more than 6 years prior to the date upon which the complaint is filed, provided, however, that this 6 year limitations period shall not begin to run until the misconduct in question could have been discovered by a reasonable person through publicly available information.” (ie. there is no statute of limitations until the time a violation was discovered and then it goes 6 more years for someone to bring a complaint–even the IRS only goes back in time 6 years from when the action happened)
-“the executive director may issue subpoenas for the production of documents and to compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses by deposition or otherwise.
-“The persons who filed the complaint may participate fully in the development of evidence during this investigative phase of the proceeding, and the executive director, upon request of the complainants, shall issue such subpoenas as may be necessary to facilitate that participation…The accused legislator may participate informally, but shall have no formal rights of participation, during this stage of the proceeding.”
(So the accusers can continue to participate in a witch hunt, but the accused who may have evidence to exonerate him/herself, has no rights to provide that information. HELLO SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS 1692!)
-“Once a prima facie case has been established against an accused legislator…the burden of proof and risk of non-persuasion in relation to such case shall shift to such legislator, and such legislator must show by a preponderance of evidence that the legislator did not commit the violation or violations charged in the formal complaint.” (GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT)
-“there shall be no judicial review or agency review of any commission action”
-“The Attorney General for the state of Utah shall have no power or role as counsel for the commission.“
Are you kidding me??? Written into the bill is a waiver of all liability for their actions. No check or balance. No legislator can threaten them, no executive can remove them, no judge can make a ruling on them. WELCOME TO YOUR NEW RULERS UTAH
P.S. Please forward this letter to everyone you can. If the sponsors fail to get 3,000 signatures in 26 of 29 senate districts, it won’t come to a vote next year, but it’s almost guaranteed to make it to the ballot since it’s not hard to ask Walmart shoppers “do you want an ethical legislature where legislators can’t take bribes? Sign here.”
P.S.S. If you’re in Utah, sign the petition at www.UtahsRepublic.org to help restore basic constitutional education to our children. Right now the word “Republic” doesn’t even appear in the K-12 standards for social studies.