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"Politics Make Strange Bedfellows"
                U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch
Orrin Hatch

"If it is reorganization, a new deal, and a change you are seeking it is Hobson's choice.   I am sorry for you but it is really vote for me or not vote at all."

Woodrow Wilson
October 24, 1910

Politicians . . . you've just gotta love 'em!
By Jerry Spangler, Staff Writer
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, Dec. 6, 1988

A judge in 5th District Court has denied a petition by polygamists Vaughn and Sharane Fischer to adopt the six children of a woman who died two months after becoming Vaughn Fischer's third wife.  Judge Dean Conder, in what could become a landmark polygamy case, ruled Monday that, "Polygamy is a crime . . . and the practice of polygamy constitutes immoral conduct."  Conder further added that it is "not in the best interests of the children to be raised in such an atmosphere."  The Fischers, as well as the state Department of Social Services, had maintained that polygamy, like other religious practices, is not the issue in an adoption case.  Rather it is ability and willingness of the adoptive parents.  In a home study report by the state Division of Family Services, a social worker determined the Fischers are "highly qualified" to adopt the six children.  The case involves children, ages 5 to 19, of Brenda Johanson Thornton, who died of cancer Aug. 17, 1987.  Thornton had signed over custody of the children to the Fischers before her death and had requested they legally adopt the children.  But that adoption petition is being opposed by Pat and Janet Johanson, Brenda's two non-polygamous sisters, who maintain children should not be raised in an environment that has been deemed illegal by the courts.  Steven Snow, the Fischers' attorney, said he will appeal Conder's dismissal.  While polygamy is illegal in Utah, Snow said, "there is no law banning a polygamous couple from adopting."  Conder ruled that Vaughn and Sharane Fischer will continue to have temporary custody of the children until appeals on the case have been exhausted.  When asked how far he would appeal the judge's decision, Vaughn Fischer replied, "To the point of keeping our children."  The Fischers are residents of Hildale, Washington County, a polygamous community.  The town neighbors Colorado City, Ariz., another polygamous community.  Together, they are commonly referred to as "Short Creek."
Custody Battle in Utah's Top Court Shines Rare Spotlight on Polygamy
By LISA BELKIN, Special to The New York Times
The New York Times
Originally published June 12, 1989

HILDALE, Utah — The main route into this thumbnail-size town is barely marked - just a tiny street sign on a red dirt road, easy to miss without detailed directions.  There is no reason to increase the size of the sign.  The people of Hildale would rather not be found.  If the sign to Hildale is small, the houses here are are oddly large, with additions in all styles and directions.  Nearly everyone in Hildale belongs to a tightly knit religious group that still practices polygamy, just as their Mormon forebears did, and most of these homes hold several wives and dozens of children.  In one of those houses is the family of Vaughn Fischer, who, street signs or none, is attracting attention lately.  Mr. Fischer wants to adopt the six children of his No. 3 wife, who died two months after they married in 1987.  His two remaining wives agree to the adoption, as do the six children, who continue to live here with the Fischer family.  The children's father has also consented.  But the dead woman's two half-sisters, Patricia and Janet Johanson, are trying to stop the adoption on the ground that polygamy is illegal and the state cannot place children into a home that practices it.  They want the children to live with Janet Johanson, a college administrator in Salem, Ore.     Read more
Utah Court Case: Adoption of W.A.T.
Supreme Court of Utah
Originally filed March 26, 1991

In the Matter of the Adoption of W.A.T., V.E.T., J.T.T., J.S.T., J.L.T., and B.D.T., Minors. Pat Johanson, Janet Johanson, and Calvin Johanson, Intervenors and Appellees, v. Vaughn Fischer and Sharane Fischer, Petitioners and Appellants

Supreme Court of Utah

808 P.2d 1083; 157 Utah Adv. Rep. 26

March 26, 1991, Filed

Fifth District, Washington County; The Honorable Dean E. Conder.

David Nuffer, Steven E. Snow, St. George, for appellants.
Dale R. Chamberlain, Calvin L. Rampton, Timothy B. Anderson, Jan C. Graham, Michael Patrick O'Brien, Michael R. Shaw, St. George, for appellees.
V. Lowry Snow, St. George, for W.A.T.
R. Paul Van Dam, Paul M. Tinker, Salt Lake City, for amicus State of Utah.
Patricia W. Christensen, Salt Lake City, for amicus Utah Children.
Brad L. England, Salt Lake City, for amicus American Civil Liberties Union.

Durham, Justice. Michael D. Zimmerman, Justice, concurs. Stewart, Justice, concurring in result. Howe, Associate Chief Justice, dissenting. Hall, Chief Justice, concurs in the dissenting opinion of Associate Chief Justice Howe.



On Certification from the Utah Court of Appeals.
This is an appeal from an order of the district court dismissing petitioners' petition to adopt six children, five of whom are minors, on the ground that petitioners have organized their family according to their religious belief in plural marriage. We reverse.

Petitioners Vaughn Fischer and Sharane Fischer are legally married and reside in Washington County with their four children. Also residing with them is Katrina Stubbs, whom Vaughn also "married" in accordance with petitioners' religious belief and practice of plural marriage. Two children have been born to Vaughn and Katrina. On June 17, 1987, Vaughn "married" a third "wife," Brenda Thornton. On June 30, 1987, petitioners filed the instant petition, seeking to adopt six children born to Brenda and Joseph Phil Thornton. n1 The Thorntons were members of the same fundamentalist church n2 as petitioners, and Brenda was a plural "wife" of Joseph. The Thorntons appeared in the court below on the day the petition was filed and, in accordance with Utah Code Ann. 78-30-8, gave their written consent to the proposed adoption. Petitioners claim that Brenda knew she was dying at that time. Brenda died on August 15, 1987.     Read more
The New York Times
Originally published March 29, 1991

SALT LAKE CITY, March 28 — The Utah Supreme Court has tacitly acknowledged the practice of polygamy as an alternative way of life, entitled to at least some legal protection.  While the Court affirmed the Utah Constitution's ban on polygamy, it ruled Tuesday that a family could not be automatically prohibited from adopting children simply because it is openly polygamist.  Justice Christine Durham, writing the 3-to-2 decision, said it was not the role of trial courts to dismiss "without consideration, for example, the adoption petitions of all convicted felons, all persons engaging in fornication or adultery, or other persons engaged in other illegal activities."  Polygamy was widely practiced in Utah from 1847, when Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley.  Congress sought to halt the practice by imposing political and economic sanctions on the Utah Territory, and in 1890, to gain statehood, the Mormon Church agreed to ban polygamy.  Nevertheless, tens of thousands of fundamentalist Mormons in Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California continue the practice.  The ruling was a victory for Vaughn Fischer and his two wives, who are seeking to adopt the six children of Brenda Johanson Thornton.  She married Mr. Fischer in 1987, becoming his third wife, but died two months later.     Read more
By Ken Driggs
Sunstone Magazine - Issue No: 83
September 1991
Originally published September 1991

KEN DRIGGS is a criminal lawyer in Tallahassee, Florida. He holds an LLM in Legal HIstory fro the University of Wisconsin Law School where the topic of his thesis was the legal rights of polygamous parents in Utah.

THE UTAH Supreme Court on 27 March 1991 ruled that polygamists could be considered by state juvenile courts as candidates to adopt children.  The 3-2 decision was further evidence of increasingly tolerant judicial attitudes toward fundamentalist Mormons who continue to practice religiously motivated polygamy.  The sharply divided court made a point not to extend special protections to polygamy, but did afford polygamists the same standing as other litigants in adoption proceedings.  Without mentioning it by name, they seemed to reverse a 1955 decision, In Re Black, which held that polygamists were social outcasts with no rights to their own children.  The case In the Matter of the Adoption of W. A. T., et al, involved a Hildale, Utah, couple who sought to adopt the children of another of the husband's plural wives who had died of cancer.  Vaughn and Sharane Fischer were legally married in 1964.  A second plural wife also lived in the home and had children by Vaughn.  In 1987 a third wife with six children by a previous polygamous marriage entered the home.  Proceedings for Vaughn Fischer to adopt the third wife's children began in 1987 while she was still alive and appeared before the court to voice her approval.  With her death from cancer, her relatives intervened and asked that the adoption petition be thrown out because of Fischer's freely acknowledged polygamy.  The Fifth District Juvenile Court in Washington County agreed, largely because of In Re Black, and dismissed the petition.  On appeal to the Utah Supreme Court, the case gained national attention. It was covered extensively by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Ladies' Home Journal. CNN broadcasted the oral arguments live.     Read more
Polygamist Sect Shuns Bill Debate
The Associated Press
Originally published Sunday, February 18, 2001

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. -- Leaders of Utah's largest polygamist sect are staying on the sidelines as Utah moves to criminalize their marriage ceremonies.   The apparent unconcern of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is in sharp contrast to the show of force made by Salt Lake County followers of Owen Allred's Apostolic United Brethen at legislative meeting halls last week.   Allred's followers on Friday persuaded a legislator to soften the penalties for arranging polygamous marriages.  Sen. Ron Allen, D-Stansbury Park, agreed to make it a misdemeanor instead of a felony to officiate over an adult polygamous marriage.   It still would be a felony under Allen's bill to arrange a marriage of a child younger than 16.   Allen came under pressure as 100 supporters of plural marriage descended on the Utah Capitol Wednesday and Friday.   But Dan Barlow, mayor of Colorado City and a high-ranking official of his polygamist church, says the Allen bill will not affect his community.   Barlow insisted his church allows no underage marriages and that brides always get their parents' consent.   Still, Barlow complained Allen's bill could be "the beginning of religious persecution. Since when did we start persecuting religious leaders?"
Two Many Wives - fight against polygamy
By Valerie Richardson
Insight on the News - Washington DC
Originally published May 7, 2001

Advocacy groups and legislators are cracking down on polygamy in Utah, but fundamentalist Mormons are fighting back, coming out of the closet to assert their religious beliefs.  Standing at his kitchen counter, wolfing down taco pizza during his lunch hour and cradling his infant daughter, Jeremy Thompson seems to have it all: The 28-year-old doctor has six healthy children, a thriving medical practice, a comfortable home and a minivan in the garage.  But he has something most modern suburbanites don't have: two wives.  He may look like a typical husband, but Thompson is a practicing polygamist.  Born and raised as a fundamentalist Mormon, he believes he must take more than one wife to reach the highest level of exaltation in heaven.  In Utah, polygamy is outlawed both by statute and the state constitution.  For the last 30 years, authorities have followed a don't-ask, don't-tell policy toward polygamists, but recent charges of underage marriage and incest within some plural families have thrust what arguably is the most persecuted religious minority in American history back into the line of fire.  Alarmed by reports from an advocacy group called Tapestry Against Polygamy, the state attorney general hired a full-time investigator in October to probe the state's "closed societies."  In May, the local debate is expected to draw national attention when a man with five wives becomes the first to face bigamy charges in more than 50 years.  "The Legislature has become more hostile in the last two or three years because of the perception of abuse," says former state Rep. David Zolman, a rare public official who has come out in defense of polygamy.  Last month, Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt signed into law the "child-bride" bill, which stiffens penalties for parents or others who coerce girls younger than age 18 into marriage.     Read more
Cover-Up (Arizona Attorney General internal memo)
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published October 3, 2002

Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano's office is covering up information documenting extensive and ongoing criminal activity including rape, incest, assault, kidnapping, forced marriages of underage girls, weapons violations and welfare fraud that is rampant in the remote polygamous community of Colorado City, state records obtained by New Times reveal.   Napolitano's special investigations unit has compiled information during more than two years of investigation that depicts horrifying living conditions in the small town on the Arizona-Utah border that is completely controlled by a handful of men who are leaders in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS).   A May 9 three-page memo prepared by the attorney general's special investigations unit and obtained by New Times portrays a brutal existence.   "Rape is punishment for women and reward for men," the memo states.   "Molestation is rampant, as is incest."   The memo indicates that rather than enforcing state laws, Napolitano's office is seeking ways to suppress information of criminal activity in Colorado City and avoid initiating prosecution.   "To protect against open records we should actively maintain our investigation file on Colorado City and maintain an official position of vigilance," the memo states.  "Beyond this, it is recommended that we proceed very cautiously.  The press downside is minimal and containable."     Read more
Coderre to probe decision on wives
By Campbell Clark
The Globe and Mail
Originally published October 7, 2002

VANCOUVER -- Ottawa granted permission for three wives of a polygamist to stay in Canada permanently and an immigration official has warned that several more applications from polygamists' wives are likely on the way, according to internal government documents obtained by The Globe and Mail.   Polygamy is illegal in Canada and polygamous marriages are not recognized as legitimate in the official rule book for immigration to Canada.   However, the documents reveal that Citizenship and Immigration Canada granted permanent residence in 1994 to three wives of Winston Blackmore, who was leader of a polygamist community in southeast British Columbia from the mid-1980s until earlier this year.   Government officials knew the women were part of a polygamous relationship, and staff at the local office in British Columbia initially turned down Mr. Blackmore's application for immigration of his three wives.   However, the local decision was later overturned by federal officials in national headquarters in Ottawa.   The women had asked to be accepted on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.   "They were approved with instructions and concurrence from NHQ (National Headquarters)," states an internal government report on the polygamist colony prepared two years ago.   The report says the women filled in "housewife" as their occupation on their applications for immigration.  They stated they would receive financial assistance from Mr. Blackmore.   Under marriage information, they wrote "not available."     Read more
AG too soft on polygamy cases, candidate says
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
Originally published October 8, 2002

PHOENIX -- Attorney General Janet Napolitano is ignoring polygamy and related crimes in northern Arizona to avoid political heat, her independent foe for governor charged Monday.   Richard Mahoney said Napolitano, the Democratic nominee, is guilty of "political indifference" for refusing to pursue charges against people openly violating the law.  He said the state should be prosecuting polygamists.   "We have cancer, a spot of cancer, a malignancy in northern Arizona and our state leaders have done nothing about it," he charged.     Read more
Mormon ads vex Salmon, Napolitano
By Robbie Sherwood and Chip Scutari
The Arizona Republic
Originally published October 10, 2002

One television ad says Republican Matt Salmon would never solve northern Arizona's polygamy problem because he is a member of the Mormon Church.   Another suggests Democrat Attorney General Janet Napolitano has ignored crimes in polygamist communities and doesn't care about victims' rights.   Salmon and Napolitano put aside their differences Wednesday to rip Independent gubernatorial candidate Richard Mahoney, saying he went too far when he used a woman who escaped from a polygamist clan to sound off in two inflammatory political commercials.   Salmon called the Mormon Church ad bigoted and said he was disgusted by it.     Read more
Polygamy Jolts Campaign for Governor
By Michael Janofsky
The New York Times
Originally published October 13, 2002

PHOENIX, Oct. 11 — As if a staggering budget deficit and troubled educational system were not enough campaign fodder for Arizona's leading candidates for governor, this week they found a new issue.   Rather, it found them.   Dick Mahoney, a political independent began running 30-second commercials this week that focus on Fundamentalist Mormons in northern Arizona who practice polygamy and suspicions that they are committing sexual abuse, domestic violence, welfare fraud and other crimes.   One advertisement says Mr. Mahoney's Democratic opponent, Attorney General Janet Napolitano, has ignored the crimes.  The other says his Republican opponent, Matt Salmon, a former congressman and mainstream Mormon, would ignore them if he were elected.     Read more
Mahoney, aide getting death threats
By Chip Scutari and Robbie Sherwood
The Arizona Republic
Originally published October 17, 2002

Independent gubernatorial candidate Richard Mahoney and his top campaign aide have received death threats in the wake of television ads that injected allegations of child abuse in northern Arizona into a heated governor's race.   Mahoney, who has reported the threats to the Phoenix Police Department and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said one of the callers yelled, "Pull the ad or I'll kill you!"  Another threatened to shoot Mahoney.  He said a total of three death threats were received by phone, all late last week.   Mahoney, who began running the ads a few days before getting the threats, said he wasn't bothered by the calls at first.   "It wasn't too scary until I was in the car the other night near my headquarters and a blue truck was right on my bumper for several blocks," he said.   "That was weird."     Read more
Polygamy Puzzle
Furor over mysterious memo masks difficulties in prosecuting illegal acts
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published October 24, 2002

The author of a purported Attorney General's Office memo describing widespread criminal activity in the polygamous community of Colorado City remains unknown more than two weeks after it surfaced.   The state Department of Public Safety has begun an investigation requested by Attorney General Janet Napolitano to determine who prepared the document that depicts dangerous conditions in Colorado City and alludes to efforts by the Attorney General to avoid taking action.   Napolitano says the document -- which appears to be written by a special investigations supervisor -- is fraudulent.   "We actually have opened an investigation on that particular memo to determine the authenticity," says DPS spokesman Frank Valenzuela.  The department's special-investigation unit is handling the case.     Read more
Hatch: We need to protect our children
Polygamy surfaces at town meeting
By Rachel Olsen
The Spectrum
Originally published April 17, 2003

ST. GEORGE -- Crowd members became very passionate Thursday as they discussed polygamy and other issues in a town meeting with Sen. Orrin Hatch.   Hatch, R-Utah, came to St. George to participate in several events Thursday and today.   One of those events was an open town meeting, where residents could ask about issues pertenant to Southern Utah, said Heather Barney, the senator's spokeswoman.   Several topics were discussed, ranging from the lack of facilities for veteran care to the Patriot Act, but the most heated issue was that of polygamy.   Bob Curran, an anti-polygamist activist with Help the Child Brides, brought up the issue of polygamy with a question asking Hatch why an hour away "thugs" rape children and nothing is being done to stop it.   "No one should be raping a child ... we need to protect our children," Hatch said.   Although Hatch continually focused on the fact that no one should be abusing or raping a child, his response apparently did not appease some members of the audience.   It was not until Sonya Blancke, a relatively new resident in Washington County, expressed her dismay with the breaking of laws, especially the laws broken by polygamists, that there was a little unrest.     Read more
Questions postpone vote on new judge
By Angie Welling
Deseret Morning News
Originally published April 17, 2003

New allegations from anti-polygamy groups that Eric Ludlow avoided prosecuting child bride cases during his tenure as Washington County attorney kept the state Senate from voting on his judicial appointment as planned Wednesday.   The Senate postponed the vote until April 30, when Ludlow will be present to answer questions raised since last week's hearing before the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee.   He was out of town at a previously planned conference and unable to attend Wednesday's hearing.   Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, committee chairman, said concerns have arisen regarding one particular answer Ludlow provided senators last week.  When asked if a child polygamy case had ever come to his office, Ludlow said no.   Buttars now believes that is not the case, and thinks Ludlow may have misinterpreted the question.   "We want to feel very, very confident our questions are heard, (and) answered correctly," Buttars said.  "And there were some remaining questions since that hearing and since he wasn't here we postponed presenting his name."   Troy Bowles, of the organization Help the Child Brides, sent Buttars an e-mail outlining his concerns about Ludlow yesterday.   In it, Bowles wrote: "We believe that there is a conflict of interest between Ludlow and the performance of his duty when polygamous offenders are involved."   Pennie Petersen, who has four sisters married to well-known polygamists, said she also called a staff member of the committee yesterday with her concerns.     Read more
Hatch spars about polygamy at town meet
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, April 18, 2003

ST. GEORGE — Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, found himself in a verbal sparring match with a couple of residents Thursday night when the pair challenged the senator's stance on polygamy.   Bob Curran, director of an anti-polygamy group in St. George called Help the Child Brides, asked Hatch if he knew girls as young as 13 and 14 were being forced into marriages with older men living in the nearby twin polygamous towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.   "I wouldn't throw accusations around unless you know they're true," Hatch cautioned Curran and another speaker, Sonja Blancke, who also questioned the senator on his position.   "I'm not here to justify polygamy," Hatch said.  "All I can say is, I know people in Hildale who are polygamists who are very fine people.  You come and show me evidence of children being abused there and I'll get involved.  Bring the evidence to me."     Read more
System Failure
No matter who you ask – Republicans, Democrats – just about everyone will tell you that Arizona's Child Protective Services doesn't work.   It's so bad that the governor and county attorney have stepped in to try and fix the problem.
By Jana Bommersbach
"Jana's View" Phoenix Magazine
Originally published June 2003

Imagine this: Somebody walks in your front door and beats the hell out of your child.   I know three things about every woman and man who just read that sentence.   One: Their blood pressure immediately rose.  Two: None would rest until that abuser was brought to justice.  And three: Nobody would suggest that the attacking guy or gal was just having a bad day, and that they should be allowed to visit any time they want, or even babysit.   Don't be absurd.   People who abuse children - physically, sexually - not only need to be punished, but should also be kept away from the children they've hurt.   That is why the "family reunification" policy that has governed so much of our child welfare laws has never made any sense to me.   How is it that we make "keeping the family together" a higher priority than "keeping a child safe"?  But that's what we do - we have for a long time.  We minimize and forgive horrors done behind a family's door that we would never tolerate from a stranger.   And so I was very encouraged recently to see leaders of both political parties in Arizona say that it's simply not right.     Read more
Dirty Tricks
A call to an ex-gubernatorial candidate's campaign cell phone is linked to forged documents used to slam Napolitano and Salmon.
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published July 31, 2003

An Arizona Department of Public Safety investigation has linked a call to former independent gubernatorial candidate Dick Mahoney's cell phone to forged state Attorney General's office documents circulated to the press last September.   The fake documents appeared to be internal AG memoranda strongly suggesting that then-Attorney General Janet Napolitano was covering up appalling conditions in a fundamentalist Mormon polygamous enclave in Colorado City.   After discovering last winter that the documents were bogus, DPS investigators asked Mahoney and long-time aide Sam Vagenas to voluntarily submit to interviews after not only Mahoney's phone records but also Vagenas' were linked to a woman whose name appears in the forgeries.   Mahoney and Vagenas refused to meet with authorities, and referred investigators to their attorneys.   Inexplicably, the DPS did not pursue the case further, and Attorney General Terry Goddard's office declined to prosecute earlier this month, citing a lack of evidence.     Read more
Whoa!  Zoning change opposed
Keep truss firm out, say Apple Valley residents
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Monday, September 29, 2003

LEEDS, Washington County — A proposed zone change that would allow a truss company to open shop in the rural community of Apple Valley received lots of opposition at Tuesday's Washington County Commission meeting.   Commissioners got an earful from those attending the public hearing portion of the meeting, held in a jam-packed Leeds Town Hall.   Those against the proposal argued changing the 5-acre parcel of land in Apple Valley from its planned development zone to a manufacturing zone would cause numerous problems for area residents, including increased traffic, accidents, pollution and noise.   AllcoTrades, based in Colorado City, Ariz., requested the zone change for expansion of its truss business now located in nearby Hildale, Apple Valley's closest neighbor.     Read more
Colorado City plan sparks debate
By Joseph Dill
Today's News-Herald
Originally published November 19, 2003

State Sen. Linda Binder and District 3 Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson reacted with skepticism Tuesday to a letter sent to Binder by Board Chairman Pete Byers regarding Colorado City.   Byers' letter was sent on the heels of the Board's 3-0 decision Monday to move forward in locating a county law enforcement facility in or near Colorado City in an effort to investigate alleged cases of polygamy, sexual assault and child abuse.  The facility would include space for related state agencies such as Child Protective Services and the Attorney General's Office.   In the letter, Byers requests Binder's assistance in finding funding and non-profit assistance in setting up a "safe house" for victims who want to report assaults.   "This is the first interest Pete Byers has ever shown in the Colorado City situation," said Binder, R-Lake Havasu City.  "He has never shown the slightest interest in even educating himself on the issue."     Read more
Arizona, Utah aid teens fleeing polygamist area
Karina Bland
The Arizona Republic
Originally published January 31, 2004

Arizona child-welfare officials are working with their counterparts in Utah to decide what to do with children who run away from the twin polygamist communities of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.   Three teenagers from there are in foster care in Phoenix.   This is the first time children fleeing polygamist families have been placed in state protective custody, said Flora Jessop of Phoenix, a former Colorado City resident who left as a teenager in 1986.  Typically, the children have been treated like any other teenage runaways and returned home, she said.   But with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the isolated communities of Colorado City and Hildale under scrutiny by law enforcement, child-welfare officials in both states are handling the cases carefully.   Jessop said another half-dozen runaways are in hiding, waiting to see what happens to the three children in state care.     Read more
Opponents warn lawmakers that polygamy will be next
By Raphael Lewis
The Boston Globe
Originally published February 10, 2004

Opponents of gay marriage stepped up their rhetoric yesterday, warning state lawmakers that Massachusetts will soon see the legalization of marriages with multiple spouses if they do not overturn the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling allowing same-sex marriages.   "I think once you cross this bridge, this is a bridge gone too far," said Tony Perkins, who heads the Washington-based Family Research Council.   "I think there's no turning back the clock."   Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a Princeton University professor who spoke with Perkins at a State House press conference, said the SJC's ruling Nov. 18 paved the way for further challenges to traditional marriage.  He said the courts would not be able to bar other arrangements made by consenting adults, once the heterosexual union of a man and a woman is adulterated.   Satinover said that what he called polyamory -- relationships involving any number of people, regardless of gender -- are "definitely the next arrangement that will be pushed just as soon as male-male unions and female-female unions are institutionalized in law."  The Coalition for Marriage, a group of organizations pushing for a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, called the press conference.   Gay marriage supporters dismissed the polygamy argument as a myth.     Read more
State Panel Backs Bill Against Polygamy
The Associated Press
KVOA News 4 - Tucson
Originally published February 15, 2004

Arizona legislators are acting to combat alleged child abuse associated with the polygamist enclave of Colorado City.   The Senate Judiciary Committee today unanimously approved a bill backed by Attorney General Terry Goddard to create the crime of child bigamy.   The bill would make it a felony for a married adult to marry a child or otherwise cohabit as husband and wife with a child.  It also would make it illegal to arrange marriages or cohabitations under those circumstances.   Supporters of the bill say it is aimed at polygamists who marry teen-age girls even if a second or subsequent marriage is not a valid marriage.   The bill goes to the full Senate following a Rules Committee review.
Hildale fails to draw council candidates
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published Wednesday, February 18, 2004

HILDALE -- Out of the 680 registered voters in Hildale, no one expressed any interest in filling a vacancy on the Hildale City Council.   At the council's Tuesday morning meeting, Mayor David Zitting said although the city posted a public notice several weeks ago that there was a vacancy, no one responded.   A seat on the council became available after Joseph I. Barlow Sr. resigned last month when he moved out of town.  Barlow, who's term of office expired in 2005, submitted his resignation to Mayor Zitting on Jan. 13 after serving on the council since the town was incorporated back in 1963.   Barlow was one of 20 men who were removed from their positions within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by the church's prophet Warren Jeffs.   Since Barlow's open seat wasn't filled at the meeting on Tuesday, Zitting told the remaining councilors that they would need to attend all meetings; otherwise there would not be a quorum.   Zitting said the city would continue to look for someone to fill the vacancy.     Read more
Concerns over protecting children stall legislation
Lawyer says bill would invite suits and threaten kids
By Amy Joi Bryson
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, February 19, 2004

Although one of the most far-reaching legislative proposals to revamp Utah's child welfare system stalled this week in committee, its sponsor is determined to bring it back.   "I am going to continue to work with people on their concerns, but I think this bill will help families and achieve balance," said Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan.   But Alain Balmanno, the lead attorney for Utah in litigation brought against the state 10 years ago by a national children's advocacy group, said Harper's HB266 would "absolutely" invite more lawsuits and also present serious threats to the well-being of children.   "You are making it impossible to protect children," Balmanno said.  "If you pass Rep. Harper's bill I will have to defend this and I will lose," adding that the proposed changes would set the state back years.   Balmanno said many of the provisions in the bill would violate agreements the state made when it entered into a consent decree in the suit settlement that requires certain performance standards.   And Barbara Feaster, a child abuse victim who now heads U Foster Success, passionately told lawmakers children can't be ignored.  She was in tears when it appeared lawmakers were poised to pass out the bill.   The measure, by Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, is not dead.  The lawmaker vowed to continue to address agency concerns and come to some sort of acceptable compromise.     Read more
Hildale seat stays vacant
The Associated Press
Originally published Thursday February 19, 2004

HILDALE -- No one wants a City Council seat that became vacant when a town leader was excommunicated and ordered out of the church-controlled town.   Mayor David Zitting said that although the city posted a public vacancy notice several weeks ago, not one of the town's 680 registered voters responded.   The seat became available after Joseph I. Barlow Sr. resigned Jan. 13.   Barlow had been on the council since the town was incorporated in 1963.   Barlow was one of 20 men who were removed from their positions within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by the church's prophet, Warren Jeffs.   The men were told to leave town without their wives or property.  More members have been excommunicated since that early January mass excommunication as Jeffs reportedly is trying to solidify his position as church leader.     Read more
Colorado City elections today
Three candidates running for three Town Council seats; town's new mayor to be chosen by council
By Jane Zhang
The Spectrum
Originally published Tuesday, March 9, 2004

ST. GEORGE -- With three candidates running for three Town Council positions, the primary election today in Colorado City is anything but unpredictable.   Edson Jessop, who has been a councilman since the town was incorporated in 1985, is the only candidate remaining on the official ballot.  Two write-in candidates -- private school teacher Richard Allred and town library board member Donald Richter -- are running for the two remaining vacancies on the seven-member council.   The mayor will be selected by the new council after a general election, which will be May 18, Town Clerk Kevin Barlow said.   Dan Barlow, the mayor of 19 years until his resignation in January, filed papers in December for his re-election, only to withdraw in a letter dated Jan. 26, Kevin Barlow said.  Another councilman, Richard Holm, didn't file for re-election.     Read more
Primary elections held in Colorado City
By Jane Zhang
The Spectrum
Originally published Wednesday, March 10, 2004

ST. GEORGE -- All three city council candidates received more than 93 percent of the votes Tuesday in Colorado City's primary election, a town official said.   Among the 327 valid cast votes, Edson Jessop, who has been a councilman since the town was incorporated in 1985, received 307 votes, or 93.9 percent of the vote; Richard Allred, a teacher at a private school, received 318 votes, or 97.2 percent of the vote; and Donald Richter, a member of the town library board, received 312, or 95.4 percent of the vote, town clerk Kevin Barlow said.   Voter turnout was 33 percent, he said.   Five ballots were sent to Mohave County to be verified.     Read more
Colorado City election anything but democratic
In Our View
The Spectrum
Originally published Sunday, March 14, 2004

EDITORIAL   They called it an election, but in realistic terms, it was anything but.   The recent Colorado City primary election for city council was a sham and the truest example of the reasons behind the constitutional separation of church and state.   Most frequently, this constitutional separation is cited in arguments made against prayer in school, the posting of the Ten Commandments on a courthouse wall or other religious expression by a government entity.   It's been some time, however, since the influence of a church, in this case the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has been brought to question.   Christian fundamentalist Pat Robertson's ecclesiastical run for the White House stirred deep religious and anti-religious fervor.  Roman Catholic John Fitzgerald Kennedy's successful 1960 bid for the White House was also viewed suspiciously by those who feared he would become a papist puppet.  That's a major reason why Kennedy so narrowly defeated Richard Nixon.   The Colorado City situation, however, poses more danger to the residents of a small town that finds itself under the thumb of church control.   The FLDS church controls most of the property in Colorado City through the United Effort Plan, a church-controlled trust.  The unspoken rule?   Break from the church or question authorities and you will be booted from the community, your wives and children will be taken from you and placed with other men and your future, at least in Colorado City, is over.     Read more
Too Little, Too Late
The governor needs to help abused women and children in Colorado City. Now.
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published April 15, 2004

It's not every day that the governor of a state is faced with an open insurrection by thousands of religious zealots.   It's even rarer when the fanatics flout the state Constitution in a hell-bent pursuit of reaching heaven by coercing teenage girls into a life of subjugation, rape and breeding.   Even more unusual is the appalling fact that the rebellion is being funded by tens of millions of taxpayer dollars pouring into an incorporated town controlled by a theocracy -- a religious dictatorship that ignores the rule of law and prays for the destruction of this nation.   These are the facts of life in the remote town of Colorado City, located north of the Grand Canyon on the Arizona Strip.  And these are precisely the type of outrageous actions in which government is supposed to intervene, by force if necessary, to protect its citizens from human rights and constitutional abuses.   This is the type of situation a governor with courage and conviction should immediately address.  Unfortunately for Arizona and the thousands of children in Colorado City, Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano has exhibited neither of these characteristics when it comes to the horrendous situation in Colorado City.   Instead, Napolitano is doing nothing.     Read more
Legislature gives early approval to end child polygamy practices
By Howard Fisher
Capital Media Services
Originally published April 16, 2004

PHOENIX -- Members of the House of Representatives gave preliminary approval Thursday to legislation designed to end the practice of children being forced into polygamous relationships.   SB 1335 would make it a crime for someone who already has a spouse to marry a child.  It also would make criminals of those who causes such a marriage or transports or finances the transportation of a child to promote such a marriage.   Arizona has a constitutional prohibition against polygamous relationships but there are no statutes specifically making that a crime.  There is a law banning plural marriages but that applies only when someone obtains a state-issued marriage license while still legally married to someone else.   This legislation contains a special definition of marriage to include any joining as husband and wife, whether or not there is a marriage license and whether or not it is recognized by the state.  That is designed to address what happens in polygamous communities where a husband legally "marries" only one woman, with subsequent brides recognized only by the church.   Child polygamy is practiced by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints.  That is a break-away sect of Mormons who have settled in Colorado City on the state's northern border and across the line in Hilldale, Utah.   Thursday's vote came over the objection of Rep. Wally Straughn, D-Phoenix.     Read more
Arizona House OKs bill targeting polygamy
The Associated Press
KVOA News 4 - Tucson
Originally published April 20, 2004

The Arizona House has unanimously approved legislation intended to help combat forced marriages of teenage girls in polygamist enclaves.   Modeled after a Utah law, the bill would make it a felony for a married adult to marry a child.   Other provisions are aimed at holding parents responsible for forced marriages of their children.   The proposal has already cleared the Arizona Senate.  However, it now returns to that chamber for consideration of changes made by the House.   The Arizona Constitution already prohibits polygamy, but Arizona's bigamy law addresses only state-sanctioned marriages, not those recognized only by churches.
Running Scared
There are a couple of reasons Janet Napolitano won't be on John Kerry's ticket
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published May 13, 2004

Governor Janet Napolitano has finally found her man.   Tucked under the right arm of presumed Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry, Napolitano beamed radiantly during a Democratic party rah-rah at the Arizona Biltmore recently.   Normally aloof, Napolitano never drifted far from the Massachusetts senator's side.  She got the good lovin' not only from the presidential hopeful, but from a throng of folks clamoring to rub up against the reigning Democratic deity.   For his part, Kerry seemed delighted that Napolitano was beside him. He needs her to deliver big-time if his next home is to be the White House.   Provided Napolitano can deliver Arizona's 10 electoral votes in November, it would be only the second time that the Democratic presidential nominee has taken the state since 1948.  A Kerry victory in the realm of Republican Senator John McCain would be a major blow to President George W. Bush.   Napolitano has everything to gain and nothing to lose in the next six months by throwing her energy toward Kerry's election, which she vows to do.   But this isn't about Janet becoming vice president on a Kerry ticket.   It's about banking political capital -- which is Napolitano's greatest skill.     Read more
County Attorney speaks on Colorado City and more
The Tri-States News Network
Murphy Broadcasting, Inc.
Originally published Thursday May 27, 2004

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. - Colorado City is just one of the issues the Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith would like to address as he runs for a full term.   Smith talked about this at the recent Lake Havasu City Republican Men's Group meeting.  "Generally speaking, I want to concentrate on the prosecution side and stay out of the politics as much as possible, as much as I can.  Try to aggressively recruit and hire the best prosecutors.  I am going to stay on that end; I am still doing trials, starting my fifth of the year on June 1st.  And I just want to see us as a very strong prosecution-oriented office."   Smith took over the position earlier this year when Bill Ekstrom retired.   Smith also talked about victim rights, his campaign for election and future work in Colorado City.     Read more
1/2 of town's cops are polygamists
But state officials not pursuing criminal charges against officers
Originally published June 10, 2004

An eight-month investigation by the state of Utah has found more than half of the police officers in the southern town of Hildale practice polygamy – that is, having more than one spouse.   "Hildale has 13 officers who are certified by Utah, seven by our records are polygamists," Attorney General Mark Shurtleff told the Salt Lake Tribune.   He says some on the force were aware of the illegal activity by fellow officers, but did not take any action.   And though Shurtleff himself ordered the inquiry, he's not pursuing criminal charges on any of the accusations.   "We just don't have the resources to start charging bigamy," Shurtleff told the paper.  The attorney general, who maintains police officers need to be held to a higher standard, is instead looking to strip the officers of their ability to enforce the law.     Read more
Hildale fills City Council slots
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published June 16, 2004

HILDALE -- After months of trying to fill vacancies on the town council, the Hildale City Council finally filled the two vacancies at its meeting on Tuesday morning.   Mayor David Zitting said William Jessop and Lamar Johnson were appointed to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Joseph Barlow Sr. who resigned in January.  Fred Jessop, who, although he did not resign from the council, hasn't attended a meeting in at least six months, left the other position open.   Zitting said he was pleased with the new appointments and pleased that the number of councilors is back up to five.   In the last six months, every member of the council had to attend in order to have a quorum and Zitting spoke at the meeting about how pleased he was that everyone left on the council attended the early morning monthly meeting.  Of the two newly appointed council members, Zitting said both are excellent people.   "I'm just really pleased the way it turned out," he said.   Since only three voting members were left on the council, in order for the council to make any decisions, the remaining members, Joseph S. Jessop, Dan Jessop and Harold Peine, not only had to be at every meeting, but agree unanimously on decisions.   The two men appointed on Tuesday will serve until the next municipal election, which will be in November 2005.   Zitting said Johnson and Jessop hadn't responded to the numerous advertisements in the paper but rather through communication in the community.     Read more
Hatch draws the line
By Lee Davidson
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, July 13, 2004

WASHINGTON — Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch told the Senate on Monday that same-sex couples should be able to live together like married people, should have insurance and estate benefits like married people, and should be able to visit and care for each other in hospitals like married people.   But Hatch, R-Utah, said he draws the line at actually declaring them married.   "We ought to be able to solve those inadequacies in the law without changing a 5,000-year-plus definition of marriage," Hatch said during continuing debate on whether to pass a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage.   A vote on that is expected this week, possibly on Wednesday.  Both sides doubt the two-thirds majority needed for passage can be achieved.  But Republicans say it is an urgent issue this election year and hope it will help energize their conservative base.   The proposed amendment would define marriage as between a man and a woman but would permit states to allow "civil unions" or other arrangements to outline legal rights for gay couples.     Read more
Republican squabble rules roost
Byers, challenger Basinger take spotlight in forum for District 1 supervisor's race
By Cableb Soptelean
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published Sunday, August 8, 2004

KINGMAN – A Democrat and an independent were cordial during a District 1 board of supervisors candidates' forum Thursday night, but two Republicans sparred over a variety of issues.   Challenger Richard Basinger attacked the record of incumbent Pete Byers early and often during the 90-minute forum at Mohave Community College.   Basinger spoke first and spent most of 10 minutes attacking Byers' record.   Referring to "boondoggles and snafus" during the past year, Basinger noted what he said were violations of the state open meetings law.   Basinger said it was illegal for the board of supervisors to correct a previous action because the corrective action took place more than 30 days after the original vote.     Read more
Governor hopefuls face off
By Bob Hudson
The Spectrum
Originally published Thursday, August 12, 2004

ST. GEORGE -- Two ideas struck Roger Stratford as he listened to the men running for Utah governor Wednesday.   "I thought they had a genuine interest in Washington County," Stratford said after Jon Huntsman Jr. and Scott Matheson Jr. had spoken to members of the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce.  "I'll bring my wife next time.  I will take every opportunity I can to hear them speak.   "I hadn't had a chance to see them face-to-face," Stratford continued.  "It's much better than reading it in the paper when you can see them react."   Matheson, the Democratic candidate, and Huntsman, the Republican, responded to five questions submitted to them beforehand and to four that audience members handed in as the forum proceeded.   "As the general election campaign evolves, Jon and I get to be better friends," Matheson said.   Each man addressed his policy on water development, school vouchers, expansion of Dixie State College, local transportation issues including the city's replacement airport, and the use of hotel room taxes to support tourism promotion.     Read more
Former Mohave County Attorney returns
Tri-States News Network
A Production of Murphy Broadcasting, Inc.
Originally published Wednesday, September 8, 2004

KINGMAN, Ariz. - Bill Ekstrom is returning to the Mohave County Attorney's Office.   The man he helped promote to County Attorney, Matt Smith, has hired Ekstrom to return to work in the Civil Division.   Ekstrom retired in January, a year before his four year term of office expired.  He helped convince the Board of Supervisors to appoint veteran deputy attorney Matt Smith as County Attorney.   Smith has hired Ekstrom to fill the vacancy created through the departure of former Civil Division attorney Charlotte Wells.  Smith said Ekstrom should return to the office by the end of the month at an annual salary of almost $77,000.   The Board of Supervisors on Monday took no action on Smith's request for approving an $80,000 salary for Ekstrom.  Smith said Wells had a raise coming and that Ekstrom's expertise and talent was worth as much as Wells'.   No action by the Board means Ekstrom won't get Wells' raise and will return to work for $76,800.   Board Chairman Pete Byers said there's been a negative public reaction about a perception that Smith and Ekstrom have manipulated the system and orchestrated a job switch to their advantage.     Read more
Napolitano's mission: Learn about Mormons
By Paul Davenport
The Associated Press
Originally published September 21, 2004

Gov. Janet Napolitano plans to visit Salt Lake City this week to meet with leaders of the Mormon Church to learn more about the faith shared by hundreds of thousands of Arizonans.   A Napolitano spokeswoman said the Democratic governor will meet Friday with Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaders, including President Gordon B. Hinckley and other members of the three-man First Presidency, a policy-making body that has final authority on all spiritual and worldly matters.   The itinerary for the trip being made at state expense also includes touring church facilities, including Temple Square and the family history library, and being briefed on welfare programs, Napolitano spokeswoman Jeanine L'Ecuyer said Monday.   The governor, who was raised as a Methodist but who L'Ecuyer said now regards herself as a practicing Christian, will be accompanied by three aides, as well as Arizona Chief Justice Charles E. Jones and other state officials who are Mormon.     Read more
Polygamy Likely to Play Role in Attorney General Race
Richard Piatt Reporting
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast September 23, 2004

Polygamy is a major issue for the Attorney General and the men running to unseat him. Running the office includes many more duties, of course, but the public is constantly questioning the candidates about Utah's most commonly un-enforced crime.   Utah's current Attorney General says he's taking the strongest stand in 50 years on polygamy.  Just this week, Mark Shurtleff took a hard line in Southern Utah where polygamist police officer Rodney Holm was convicted of bigamy this year.   Shurtleff says he agrees with Utah's Police Officer Standards and Training council that polygamous police officers should be fired when they're discovered.  But with limited resources to enforce the law in general, Shurtleff agrees more can be done.   Mark Shurtleff, Utah Attorney General: "Four years ago when I was running for office I didn't say the word polygamy once.  That's because I didn't realize the problem of child abuse, victimization of women, and of boys, these lost boys."     Read more
AG candidates address polygamy, Amendment 3
By Brian Passey
The Spectrum
Originally published Thursday, October 7, 2004

ST. GEORGE -- The Utah Attorney General debate Wednesday at Dixie State College's Dunford Auditorium began with a topic of concern for many southern Utahns: polygamy.   Democratic candidate Greg Skordas, 47, Murray, called polygamy an embarrassment and a crime against women and children that should be prosecuted as spousal and child abuse.   Current Attorney General, Republican Mark Shurtleff, 47, Sandy, talked of his efforts at fighting polygamy and related crimes since he became attorney general, including the establishment of a hotline for victims.   "This is not focusing on religion," Shurtleff said.   Libertarian candidate Andrew McCullough, 56, Lehi, differed from his opponents in his opinion that polygamy in a religious setting is constitutionally protected.  McCullough said he would not prosecute polygamy as attorney general, but would enforce welfare and abuse cases.   Skordas said despite what McCullough thought, polygamy is still a felony in Utah.     Read more
Attorney General Candidates Debate
The Associated Press
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast October 7, 2004

ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- Polygamy became a main topic as candidates for Utah Attorney General debated in southern Utah -- an area that's home to one of the state's most notable polygamist communities.   The Wednesday debate at Dixie State College's Dunford Auditorium began with discussion of the practice, which is outlawed by the state Constitution.   Democratic candidate Greg Skordas called polygamy an embarrassment and a crime against women and children that should be prosecuted as spousal and child abuse.   Incumbent Republican Mark Shurtleff brought up his efforts at fighting polygamy and prosecuting related crimes since he became attorney general.   "This is not focusing on religion," Shurtleff said.     Read more
Janet's Missed Opportunity
Governor Napolitano went to Utah, and all we got was some lousy ring kissing.
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published October 7, 2004

I've got a dreadful message for thousands of young men and women trapped in the horrors of fundamentalist Mormon polygamy in a handful of remote and desolate towns north of the Grand Canyon along the Arizona-Utah border.   Governor Janet Napolitano -- the rising Democratic starlet who deftly portrays herself as a defender of women's rights, the champion of children and advocate of education -- has sold your souls for political expediency.   Make no mistake: Napolitano would rather appease conservative Mormons in the state Legislature than courageously fight to free thousands of young men and women from the shackles of a practice condemned by every civilized nation on Earth.   The governor had a rare opportunity last month during a historic meeting with the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to demand they take a proactive role in helping the victims of polygamy.   She punted.   Napolitano never raised the sensitive topic, despite the fact that the LDS has a long, deep and continuing connection with polygamy.     Read more
Attorney general hopefuls spar in Dixie
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, October 8, 2004

ST. GEORGE — Polygamy, rising crime rates and a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage were the main topics discussed by Utah attorney general candidates during a televised debate here Wednesday.   Democrat Greg Skordas, Republican incumbent Mark Shurtleff and Libertarian Andrew McCullough squared off in a sparsely attended forum on the campus of Dixie State College.   Polygamy, Skordas said in answer to a moderator's question, is "an embarrassment" to the state.   "It's not so much a crime about religion as it is about crimes against women and children," he said.   "Polygamy is still a crime, a felony, that is proscribed by our state constitution.  And it should be enforced as a crime, but it's hard to prove crime without a victim coming forward.  That's why we must prosecute it as crimes of abuse; then we'll be successful."   Shurtleff said when he first ran for office four years ago, polygamy wasn't even mentioned during the campaign.   "When a 13-year-old is forced to marry an old man or sleep with her daddy, that's child rape," Shurtleff said.   "We're not targeting or focusing on religion.  This is about protecting women and children.   "The fact is, out in Hildale and Colorado City, women are treated as chattel and have no rights whatsoever.  They are there to have babies.  That's all.  They're denied an education.  Now we're finding out that men and young boys are being victimized.  We have to do something to prosecute these crimes."     Read more
3 attorney general candidates debate at U.
Guns on campus, Amendment 3 are among issues
By Geoffrey Fattah
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, October 21, 2004

Guns on campus was an issue that hit home for University of Utah law school students Wednesday during a debate among three candidates vying for Utah's top legal post.   As the campaign season heads into the home stretch, the debate at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law moot courtroom was a chance for candidates for attorney general to clarify their positions on Utah's top legal issues, including guns on campus, defining marriage and polygamy.   The issue of guns on campus has pitted the attorney general's office against the University of Utah, and the case is now pending before the Utah Supreme Court.     Read more
Cannon, Babka No Stand on Polygamy
Republican Representative Chris Cannon and Democratic challenger Beau Babka have definite and opposing views on the proposed gay marriage ban. But neither was willing to take a stand regarding polygamy.
The Associated Press
KSL 1160 News Radio
Originally broadcast October 25, 2004

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Republican Representative Chris Cannon and Democratic challenger Beau Babka are taking no stand on the subject of polygamy.   At a KUED debate taped yesterday for broadcast this evening, Utah's third U.S. House District candidates were asked whether polygamy was protected under the U.S. Constitution.  The question was posed by two female polygamists in the audience, and relayed by moderator Ken Verdoia.   Cannon, who supports the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage, said he doesn't know about polygamy.  He said, "I don't know where we should go.  I don't have an answer."   Babka says he is voting against Amendment 3 because he doesn't believe the constitution should be used to disenfranchise any group of people.   But he said he wasn't sure how to answer the polygamy question.   He said religious freedom is important, but he is concerned about the exploitation of women and children in polygamist families.
Bush And The Mormons
By Suzan Mazur
Originally published Tuesday, 26 October 2004

Dan Briody, The Iron Triangle: "So in 1989, when Mr. Marriott made it known that his company's airline catering division, then known as Marriott In-Flite Services, was on the block, one had to suspect that he knew something the rest of the world didn't know."   That's J.W. "Bill" Marriott, Chairman of Marriott Corp. Briody speaks of, one of the world's most successful businessmen.   Marriott's also one of the most celebrated members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the Mormon Church.   While we know of George W. Bush's popularity with the American electorate who consider themselves evangelical, born-again Christians (42%) - the vote from Bush's Mormon base has not been counted.   Mormons are clearly not evangelical Christians.  And there are 11 million of them.  They run the "biggest and best" gun shows nationwide.  They tend to vote Republican.  And their church is rich, because it asks its members to tithe 10% of their annual income.     Read more
Supervisors to be sworn in; plans for 2005 discussed
By Jim Seckler
Mohave Daily News
Originally published December 30, 2004

KINGMAN -- Mohave County elected officials will be sworn in Monday to begin a new four-year term running the county.   District 1 Supervisor Pete Byers and District 2 Supervisor Tom Sockwell will also be sworn in after their election victory last month.   District Supervisor Buster Johnson was already sworn in last week in Lake Havasu City before Judge Randolph Bartlett.   Sockwell said one of his goals is to see the construction of a law and justice center as well as the finishing of the new administration building currently under construction in Kingman.   "The way the county is developing, we still need to work on the economic development, bringing large businesses into Mohave County," Sockwell said.   The Bullhead City supervisor would also like to see the construction of a park in the Mohave Valley area.   Pushing up the timeline for the Highway 95 bypass that would connect Highway 68 with Interstate 40 is another goal.     Read more
Utah legislators get some light reading - 'God's Brothel'
The Associated Press
The Arizona Republic
Originally published January 18, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY - Polygamy can bring snickers, but it's no laughing matter, says a state senator who on Tuesday dropped copies of the book "God's Brothel" on Utah legislators' desks.   Sen. Ed Allen, D-Stansbury Park, said he wants to dispel the notion that polygamy in Utah is only "anecdotal - or even humorous."   Thousands in Utah, members of breakaway Mormon factions, quietly practice polygamy, although it has been illegal for more than a century.   Allen suggested that "God's Brothel," and its personal accounts of women who escaped from polygamous marriages or families, would make good reading for legislators on Tuesday's long bus ride to hear Gov. Jon Huntsman deliver his State of the State address at the territorial statehouse in Fillmore, Utah.   "I'm passing this out with no grand agenda.  I simply want legislators to have more background on the problem," said Allen, who helped enact a child bigamy law in 2003 that made forced marriages of minors a second-degree felony punishable by one to 15 years in prison.   Before, the offense carried only 30 days in jail, and was rarely enforced, said Allen.  He said the marrying of teenage girls was a common practice among some of Utah's isolated polygamist communities, until the state served notice it was cracking down.     Read more
Senator: Polygamy no laughing matter
By Paul Foy
The Associated Press
Casper Star-Tribune
Originally published Wednesday, January 19, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY -- Polygamy can bring snickers, but it's no laughing matter, says a state senator who on Tuesday dropped copies of the book "God's Brothel" on Utah legislators' desks.   Democratic state Sen. Ron Allen said he wants to dispel the notion that polygamy in Utah is only "anecdotal -- or even humorous."  Thousands in Utah, members of breakaway Mormon factions, quietly practice polygamy, although it has been illegal for more than a century.   The book is an indictment of polygamy written by Andrea Moore-Emmett, president of the Utah chapter of the National Organization for Women.  She compiled stories from 18 women who escaped from polygamous marriages or families and told of rape, incest, orgies and violence.   "I'm passing this out with no grand agenda.  I simply want legislators to have more background on the problem," said Allen.  The books were donated by the publisher, Pince-Nez Press of San Francisco, he said.   Allen, the Senate's Democratic whip, helped enact a child bigamy law in 2003 that made forced marriages of minors a second-degree felony punishable by one to 15 years in prison.     Read more
Senate leader passes out a polygamy primer
Allen wants to keep issue on the minds of senators
By Josh Loftin and Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Although polygamy is not the subject of any legislative bills, Senate Minority Whip Ron Allen hopes to keep the issue on the minds of fellow senators.   Joking that he wanted to give senators "something to read on the bus" during their afternoon ride to Fillmore for Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s State of the State speech, Allen, D-Tooele, distributed copies of "God's Brothel."   He also hopes the book, written by Andrea Moore-Emmett, tells the stories of former polygamist wives and provides a history of polygamy, provides a new perspective on an old debate, even if it is not something being tackled during this session.   "We're just trying to raise the consciousness level of policy makers about what happens in these communities," Allen, who was distributing in cooperation with the author and publisher, said.  "There's no agenda."   Sen. Parley Hellewell, R-Orem, said that he was a little bothered by the book's subtitle, which referenced "Mormon and Christian Fundamentalist Polygamy."  Regardless, he doubted that the book would receive any of his attention during the coming weeks.   "I couldn't even tell what the book was about, and whether it was saying that Mormons practice polygamy — which they don't," he said.     Read more
Harper warns of 'radical' marriages
Globe and Mail Update with Canadian Press
Originally published Thursday, January 20, 2005

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper warned Thursday that if same-sex legislation becomes law, the Liberals won't be able to prevent fundamentalist groups from requesting extreme types of marriages such as polygamy.   But Justice Minister Irwin Cotler quickly moved to quash those fears.   "We don't see any connection, I repeat, any connection between the issue of polygamy and the issue of same-sex marriage," Mr. Cotler said Thursday.   "Any attempt to make that kind of connection is simply a way of confusing distinguishable issues in every regard."   Mr. Harper told reporters in Quebec on Thursday that if the Liberals don't enshrine the traditional definition of marriage in law, "radical" groups may begin launching constitutional battles arguing that it is legal for a man to marry more than one woman, as occurs in a polygamous marriage.   "I think that's where we should draw the line," he said after a speech in Montreal where he endorsed tax incentives for members of agricultural co-operatives.  The Tory Leader made the comments a day after the Liberals decided to launch a study into the social and legal impacts of polygamy.   The study is being conducted by the federal agency, Status of Women Canada.   The agency wants to ensure that the government is prepared for the possibility that groups may use same-sex legislation to challenge the legality of polygamy.   Some concluded the federal government was on a pre-emptive strike against a campaign to legalize polygamy.     Read more
Utah state lawmaker defends polygamy
The Associated Press
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Originally published Saturday, January 22, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Republican state lawmaker countered a Senate colleague's dispersal of an anti-polygamy book by passing out materials to fellow legislators defending the practice as natural and not necessarily harmful.   State Sen. Carlene Walker said she was offended by the book, "God's Brothel," that Democratic Senate Minority Whip Ron Allen distributed to legislators Tuesday.   Walker said she has known polygamists who are "fine, honest, educated, wonderful people."   "To characterize the whole polygamy community as abusive to children and the welfare system is inaccurate," she said.   The book distributed by Allen and written by Salt Lake City author Andrea Moore-Emmett tells the stories of 18 women who claim they suffered rape, incest and violence in polygamous communities.   "It's not fair to say we should ignore it," he said.   Allen helped enact a child bigamy law in 2003 that made forced marriages of minors a second-degree felony punishable by one to 15 years in prison.  The offense previously carried only a maximum punishment of 30 days in jail, and was rarely enforced.   It's believed that tens of thousands in Utah and more than 30,000 across the West continue to practice polygamy.
Utah senator passes out pro-polygamy material
The Associated Press
KOLD Channel 13 - Tucson
Originally published January 23, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY A Republican state lawmaker in Utah countered a Senate colleague's dispersal of an anti-polygamy book by passing out folders defending the practice.   Senator Carlene Walker, of Cottonwood Heights, Utah, says she was offended by the title of the book "God's Brothel" that Senate Minority Whip Ron Allen distributed.  She says she wanted to balance its views.   The information she passed out came from a group of women near the Utah-Arizona state line who say it's unfair to characterize polygamists as "oppressed," "abused" or "brainwashed."   Walker says she has known polygamists who are "fine," "honest" and "educated."   Allen says people are misunderstanding his point of demonstrating abuses in polygamous relationships.   He says he and he passed out 104 copies of the book to legislators because he wanted them to understand polygamy isn't harmless.
Judge dismisses challenge to Utah ban on polygamy
He says those who filed lawsuit face an insurmountable hurdle
By Angie Welling
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, February 17, 2005

With a handful of court rulings over the past century upholding the constitutionality of Utah's ban on polygamy, those who choose to contest the prohibition face "an insurmountable hurdle," a federal judge said Wednesday.   With that, U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart dismissed a lawsuit brought last year by three Utahns — a married couple and the man's would-be second wife — challenging the state's bigamy law and seeking a court order directing the issuance of a marriage license for the man and second woman.   The trio sued Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen in January 2004, claiming their constitutional rights to free exercise of religion, of association and to privacy were violated by the Dec. 22, 2003, denial of a marriage license.   Attorney Brian Barnard said he intends to appeal the decision — in which, he said, Stewart offers "little or no discussion or explanation" of his reasoning — to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.   Noting that challenges to the constitutionality of Utah's bigamy laws are "not a new question before the courts," Stewart cited rulings that have repeatedly found the prohibition on polygamy to be in line with the U.S. Constitution.     Read more
Federal judge upholds Utah's ban on polygamy
The Associated Press
The Arizona Republic
Originally published February 17, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY - A federal judge has upheld Utah's ban on polygamy as it applies to issuing marriage licenses.   U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart emphasized his ruling was about marriage - not about personal sexual conduct.   Stewart's ruling Wednesday upheld the decision of the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office to refuse a marriage license for a couple in which the man was seeking a second wife.   Stewart rejected the argument that Utah's prohibition on polygamy was an unconstitutional violation of religious and privacy rights and he ruled that the state has an interest in protecting monogamous marriage.   He cited rulings upholding Utah's polygamy laws stretching back to an 1878 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the polygamy conviction of George Reynolds, personal secretary to Mormon pioneer leader Brigham Young.   Stewart said the Lawrence v. Texas ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned an anti-sodomy law as a violation of the privacy of consenting adults, grants no right to plural marriage in Utah.     Read more
Minors could soon access medical, other services without parents' OK
By Amy Joi Bryson
Deseret Morning News
Originally published February 26, 2005

Utah may soon join two dozen other states across the nation that have provisions in place for minors to petition courts for emancipation, allowing them access to medical care, housing and other critical services.   Despite some reservations, a majority of House legislators approved HB77 Thursday by a 44-25 vote, which will advance the measure to the Senate for consideration.   Sponsored by Rep. Roz McGee, D-Salt Lake, the proposal allows minors 16 and over to seek emancipation from a juvenile court judge, provided it could be proven by "clear and convincing" evidence that the declaration is warranted.   McGee said she brought the proposal as the result of two specific groups of teenagers who say established guidelines will help them make their way officially in a world where they are already on their own.   Specifically, McGee said the measure will be helpful to teenagers long abandoned by their parents and living in shelters or on the streets and for those youths who flee polygamist families.     Read more
Utah Conduct Commission to Judge: Three Wives and You're Out
The Associated Press
Originally published March 5, 2005

The Utah Judicial Conduct Commission has recommended that a judge be removed from the bench because he is a polygamist.   Judge Walter Steed, who serves in the polygamous border town of Hildale, is legally married to one woman but considers himself spiritually married to two others, and he has 32 children.   Steed is a member of the reclusive Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which dominates Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz.   Unlike the small Fundamentalist group, the main Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abandoned founder Joseph Smith's polygamy teaching in 1890.   The Utah Supreme Court now gets the case.   One issue is Steed's contention that the law allowing prosecutors to pursue people who consider themselves plurally married but aren't legally married is unconstitutional.   Utah's attorney general and the Washington County attorney previously declined to file criminal charges against Steed.
Prosecutors address polygamy issue in Utah meeting
Miami Herald
Originally published March 10, 2005

ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) - The attorneys general of Utah and Arizona told a two-state town hall meeting that they would not target polygamists solely for practicing plural marriage.  Their remarks drew an angry reaction from polygamy opponents, who said the practice is criminal and the law should be enforced.   Still, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said they would pursue criminal charges against those involved in forced or underage marriages, sexual abuse and welfare and tax fraud.   The March 3 meeting drew both polygamous families and those who oppose the practice.  Some wore suits and ties, while others wore the pioneer-like dresses and elaborate braids common in the polygamous communities.   Polygamists contend they have a First Amendment right to practice plural marriage because it's part of their religion.  They also claim they've been unfairly targeted by prosecutors because they're different.   Shurtleff rejected the claim.  "It's never been about religion, but we certainly won't sit back and let people commit crimes," he said.     Read more
Religious Wrong
A state lawmaker's assault on the campus press is trickle-down from Dubya's White House
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published March 17, 2005

Mesa Republican Representative Russell Pearce, co-chairman of the powerful Arizona House Appropriations Committee, is launching a pitched assault on the First Amendment to the Constitution.   Pearce, a member of the Salt Lake City-based Mormon Church, put language in this year's state budget bill to eliminate funding for campus publications in Arizona because they have run stories and photographs he considers offensive.  The next step is for the bill, which passed on a split vote of the Appropriations Committee, to go before the full House.   Pearce claims he was approached by several legislators who were outraged by sex columns in Arizona campus papers, including one in Arizona State University's State Press that gauges students' sexual techniques.  The State Press column by Erika Wurst is accompanied by what Pearce considers sexually explicit photos.   "If you want to be a free press, be a free press, but we're not going to subsidize articles that are over the top, and there were a lot of folks that felt [such articles were] over the top," Pearce told the Associated Press.   Could Pearce, who did not return my phone calls, also have been talking to the Phoenix-based crackpot group Americans for Decency, which recently listed the State Press as the number two threat to decency in the entire state?     Read more
Derail Polygamy's Money Train
A bill before the Legislature would allow the state to begin reforming a society that steals public money and abuses underage girls
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published April 7, 2005

The Arizona Legislature has the rare opportunity this session to strike a powerful blow to the heart of the fundamentalist Mormon polygamist cult that has dominated life in the isolated communities north of the Grand Canyon for more than 70 years.   Lawmakers are debating legislation that would allow the state to finally seize control of the corrupt Colorado City Unified School District from the nation's largest band of polygamists who claim to be following the teachings of Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith.   It's essential that the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano reach agreement on such legislation during this session.  There is too much at stake to let this opportunity slip away.   Napolitano needs to get off her throne and get down and dirty with legislators to make sure this bill passes.  Her cowardly and aloof practice of not commenting on bills until they pass the Legislature is an abdication of the power that voters have given her -- which is to lead, not follow.   The governor is intimately familiar with the crisis gripping the Colorado City schools.  As state attorney general, she initiated a grand jury investigation into abuses by the polygamists that went nowhere.  In the last two years as governor, Napolitano has failed time and again to take direct action to help end the sexual slavery and taxpayer rip-offs that are Colorado City's hallmark.   Legislation that can begin the tedious process of reform is in danger of dying because of political infighting.  Napolitano should use her bully pulpit to make sure this doesn't happen.     Read more
Senate OKs bill for takeovers
The Associated Press
KVOA Channel 4 - Tucson
Originally broadcast Monday, May 2, 2005

PHOENIX The Arizona Senate today unanimously approved a bill to let the state Board of Education appoint receivers to take over operation of school districts deemed to be financially dysfunctional.   Supporters have said the bill is a response to financial troubles of the Colorado City Unified School District.   The teachers in the district serving a polygamist community in a remote area of northern Arizona went unpaid for two months last year because the district ran out of money.  Critics blame the district's financial problems on, among other things, a bloated work force.   The Senate last week broke a logjam on the issue by voting to limit the possible grounds for takeovers to financial situations.   The bill now awaits a final House vote that could send it to Governor Napolitano.
Elephant Slayer
Napolitano deftly played politics this legislative session to fend off all GOP foes
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published Thursday, May 26, 2005

Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano's taking it to the House -- and the Senate -- leaving no doubt about who's the most powerful politician in state government.   Brash, abrasive and confident, Napolitano craftily used this past legislative session to capture the pole position for next year's gubernatorial race that's shaping up to be a laugher.   With state coffers flush with cash, Napolitano seized the rare opportunity to advance her kids-come-first political agenda while thwarting a deceptive Republican effort at immigration reform that failed to include employer sanctions.   Throughout the session, Napolitano shrewdly portrayed herself as the lone voice of reason overseeing a legislative madhouse that sent her scores of inflammatory, unnecessary -- and just plain stupid -- bills.   Many of these she thankfully vetoed.   In fact, the governor drained her pen vetoing more than 50 bills during the session.  Most of the vetoes were accompanied by pithy critiques that ripped apart the logic of various legislation.   Nearly three years after winning a cliffhanger over Matt Salmon in the 2002 governor's race, Napolitano's expanded her political base into a formidable fortress that's left Republicans scrambling to find a sacrificial lamb to oppose her in November 2006.   At this point, the 47-year-old former U.S. attorney and Arizona Attorney General is unbeatable.   It's a remarkable position for Napolitano to find herself in.  Remember, Republicans have 150,000 more registered voters statewide than Democrats.     Read more
Polygamy crackdown is no coincidence
The Arizona Republic
Originally published July 14, 2005

For the entire 20 years I have lived in Arizona, the polygamists in northern Arizona have gone virtually unchallenged in their abuse of young girls.   For the entire time I have lived in Arizona, the state has been almost under total control by conservatives.   Now when we have both a Democratic governor and attorney general, these pedophiles are actually being brought to justice.  Coincidence?

Bob Uselton, Phoenix
Montgomery vows to address Colorado City
Tri-State News Network
Originally published Monday, September 5, 2005

KINGMAN, Ariz. - Former Maricopa County prosecutor Bill Montgomery has begun the process of seeking the Republican nomination for the position of Arizona Attorney General.  Montgomery said he hopes to make a difference and reduce crime.   "Right now we are not preparing our state for the kind of future where our families are going to have the opportunities we want them to have," said Montgomery.   One of the first issues he says he'll tackle, if elected, is the situation in Colorado City.  Montgomery said that Warren Jeffs and others in the FLDS church are simply trying to clothe their illegal activities under the guise of a religious endeavor.   "Enough is enough, it's got to be stopped.   It's a point that I will make over the course of my campaign that people in Colorado City had better be on notice.   Come November 8 next year, things had better be different, or we're coming to fix it," he said.   Montgomery said he thought it would serve Arizona well to have an official review into the causes of deaths and the circumstances surrounding those deaths, and that he's concerned that there may be much more going on there than just the practice of marrying off child brides.
Utah court to decide if polygamist may remain judge
The Associated Press
USA Today
Originally published October 31, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday over whether polygamist Justice Court Judge Walter Steed is fit to remain on the bench.   Steed contends his having three wives is protected by the U.S. and state constitutions and does not affect his judicial work.   The state Judicial Conduct Commission has asked the high court to remove Steed from office, contending his behavior interferes with justice and brings a judicial office into disrepute.   Steed has served as a justice court judge in the polygamous border town of Hildale since 1980.  Hildale and neighboring Colorado City, Ariz., are the primary communities of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is estimated to have as many as 10,000 residents.   He legally married the first wife in 1965 and married the other two in 1975 and 1985 in religious ceremonies.  He has 32 children.   The commission contends Steed's marriages violate the state's bigamy law.     Read more
Hildale votes down off-premise beer license
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published November 16, 2005

HILDALE - Hildale will remain a dry town after the City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to deny an off-premise beer license for the Border Store located near the Utah-Arizona border on state Route 59.   "I can't allow (the beer license) with a clear conscience before our God," Councilman Dan Jessop said.   Since the city incorporated on Dec. 9, 1963, no off-premise beer licenses have been granted and during that time, only one restaurant, the Mark Twain, was granted a permit to sell wine and beer.  It is now, however, closed.  While Don Timpson, the new owner of the Border Store, said that having beer for sale at the gas station/convenience store would help boost sales, the council wasn't convinced, citing concerns ranging from morals, drunkenness and creating an atmosphere of concern in the community.   "Everyone sells beer.   It's just like having Twinkies," Timpson said.     Read more
Buttars' brand of ‘design' flawed
Letters to the Editor
The Herald Journal - Logan, Utah
Originally published November 24, 2005

To the editor:

Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, recently announced his plans to fight for instruction of "divine design" in Utah public schools.

I appreciate Mr. Buttars upholding moral standards.  I too have standards I think are important to be upheld for the good of the community.  When we present religious doctrine, which has no propositions that can be scientifically tested, as the equivalent of a scientific theory, we are undermining scientific standards.  We are undermining our competence as citizens within a complex technological society.

Here we are living in a society that is using these principles of evolution to engineer the very food we eat.  How can we undermine these principles within education and then expect these students to become citizens capable of responsibly managing the technologies based on these principles?

Also, the substitution of religious doctrine in place of education endangers democracy.  We needn't travel to the Middle East to find examples of this.  The words "lost boys" have been surfacing within Utah more and more these days, referring to the surplus excommunicated boys cast off from Utah's large and rapidly growing polygamous cults, the largest being the FLDS.     Read more
Hildale swears in city officials
Councilmen, mayor have long history of service
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published January 25, 2006

HILDALE - When Hildale City Councilman Dan Jessop was sworn in Tuesday morning by town clerk Ruth Barlow, he began his 42nd year as a member of the council.   He started serving on the council when the town incorporated on Dec. 9, 1963.   "I've been tempted to let off but I'll be around for awhile yet," Jessop said after the meeting.  Jessop isn't the only one who has been with the council for years.   Joseph Jessop and Harold Peine are also longtime council members and Mayor David Zitting is starting his 21st year as mayor.  Zitting and councilman Lamar Johnson were also sworn in Tuesday.   But unlike years past, the council and mayor are faced with a budget crisis - one that could necessitate a reduction in the size of city departments.   And while looking at ways to trim the budget and cut expenditures by cutting out projects and downsizing, Zitting spoke about ways to generate more revenue for the town, which may include raising property taxes.     Read more
Polygamy and public health
Deseret Morning News editorial
Originally published Saturday, February 11, 2006

In Utah, there are "hot button" issues and "blazing button" issues.  Polygamy, for years, has been a blazing button.  The state's history, a conservative belief in free choice and an unwillingness to stir up a hornet's nest in the national media have likely all contributed to the kid-glove approach lawmakers and law-enforcement officers have taken when dealing with polygamous communities.   But now an issue has reared its head that may allow concerned civil servants to increase their monitoring and interaction with polygamous groups: birth defects.   According to the observations of a neurologist working among the children of polygamous relationships, inter-marriage in the Warren Jeffs polygamist community has given rise to an especially severe form of birth defect called fumarase deficiency, an ailment that can cause mental retardation, epileptic seizures and other cruel effects that leave children helpless.   And when innocent lives are being so adversely affected, it means the state has a vested interest.  It can — and should — intervene and feel justified in proceeding with boldness.     Read more
Hildale patient about filling council post
Mayor says there's no hurry to replace respected former UEP trustee
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published February 18, 2006

HILDALE - A former United Effort Plan trustee elected to serve a two-year term on the Hildale City Council attended six meetings out of 20 during 2005, the year he ran for election.   William E. Jessop, also known as William E Timpson, attended six regular and special meetings out of the 20 the City Council held, leaving 14 meetings that Jessop did not attend.   The last meeting he attended was a special meeting in May 2005, the month before a 3rd District Court judge removed Jessop and five others as trustees of the UEP, the financial arm of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   But despite his poor attendance record, Hildale Mayor David Zitting is not planning to rush into appointing another councilor because of the high respect he and other councilors have for Jessop and, in part, because of difficulties the city has had in the past with filling council vacancies.   "I'm not in a hurry to make a change," Zitting said.   "When Uncle Fred (Fred Jessop) left, it took months and months to fill that vacancy."     Read more
Utah's top court boots polygamist judge Steed
By Linda Thomson and Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Utah Supreme Court has ousted a polygamist judge from the bench, saying his relationships with three women he considers his "wives" are clearly breaking the law and bringing his judicial office into disrepute.   Hildale Justice Court Judge Walter Steed accepted the court's decision but expressed disappointment in Friday's ruling.   "I had hoped that the court would see my case as an opportunity to correct the injustices that are caused by the criminalization of my religious beliefs and lifestyle, and I am disappointed that the court did not reach those issues in my case," Steed said in a written statement.   Steed has been a part-time justice court judge in the polygamous border town of Hildale, Washington County, since 1980.   He has been hearing cases on Saturdays, earning a little more than $300 a month.  Steed was not expected to take the bench today — or any other day.   "I've advised him not to hear any more cases," Steed's lawyer, Rod Parker, said Friday.     Read more
Judge With Three Wives Removed From the Bench
By Debbie Hummel
The Associated Press
New York Lawyer
Originally published February 27, 2006

A small-town judge with three wives was ordered removed from the bench by the Utah Supreme Court on Friday.  The court unanimously agreed with the findings of the state's Judicial Conduct Commission, which recommended the removal of Judge Walter K. Steed for violating the state's bigamy law.  Steed said he accepted the decision.  "I had hoped that the court would see my case as an opportunity to correct the injustices that are caused by the criminalization of my religious beliefs and lifestyle, and I am disappointed the court did not reach those issues in my case," Steed said in a statement.  Steed has served for 25 years on the Justice Court in the polygamist community of Hildale in southern Utah, where he ruled on such matters as drunken driving and domestic violence cases.  A year ago, the commission issued an order seeking Steed's removal from the bench, after a 14-month investigation determined Steed was a polygamist.  Bigamy is a third-degree felony in Utah, punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.  "Judge Steed's relationship with his three plural wives for more than 20 years clearly runs afoul of the prohibition," the ruling said.  "When the law is violated or ignored by those charged by society with the fair and impartial enforcement of the law, the stability of our society is placed at undue risk."     Read more
The march of the Mormons
The Mail & Guardian - South Africa
Originally published February 27, 2006

There is a quirky new drama coming to American television next month.   It is called Big Love, and HBO will air it in a plum weekly slot, just after The Sopranos.   Like The Sopranos, Big Love is a tale of marital strife in a dysfunctional family, only in this case the central character is not a Mafioso but a regular guy from Utah who happens to have three wives -- hence the wry title.   It is another tale of American subculture.  As with the Mob in New Jersey, polygamy in rural Utah may be illegal, but is nevertheless a widely accepted part of the landscape.  Big Love is being heavily promoted and boasts big-screen stars.   Tom Hanks is one of the producers, Bill Paxton plays the Viagra-popping husband, with Chloe Sevigny, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Ginnifer Goodwin as his three wives.  Harry Dean Stanton is cast in the role of the community's sinister polygamist-in-chief.   Most importantly for the audience figures, in a television-watching society somewhat jaded by manufactured edginess, the show has succeeded in generating some genuine political controversy.  It so happens that this is a particularly sensitive moment in American politics to be making a noise about polygamous marriage.   The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, introduced polygamy to the United States before the civil war, but it has spent more than a century trying to disown its continued practice by more than 20,000 renegade Mormon fundamentalists in the backwaters of the western states, as well as in Mexico and Canada.  Polygamy is a constant embarrassment to the church in its quest for mainstream acceptance and top-level political influence.     Read more
Rep. McLain surprised at Federation rating
By Neil Young
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Thursday, March 2, 2006

BULLHEAD CITY - At a recent appearance in Bullhead City, Tom Jenney from the Arizona Federation of Taxpayers told the audience that Mohave County state Senator Ron Gould (R-Lake Havasu City) rated very high with the watchdog group in terms of fiscal conservatism, as did Rep. Trish Groe (R-Lake Havasu City).   Rep. Nancy McLain (R-Bullhead City) was further behind her District 3 colleagues, according to Jenney's calculations.   Jenney told the audience, "The next time you see Nancy, ask her if she could vote a little more like Ron Gould."   "I consider myself a fiscal conservative," McLain said.  "I'm surprised they rated me that low."   McLain was rated "much higher" by the Goldwater Institute last year, she said.   "As a freshman, it never even entered my mind that somebody's going to take a look at my vote and actually rate me," McLain said.     Read more
Removal of judge overdue
The Spectrum
Originally published March 6, 2006

The Utah Supreme Court's recent decision to remove Walter Steed as Hildale's Justice Court judge was long overdue.  Steed had served 25 years despite being an admitted polygamist, a clear violation of state law.   In America, people are allowed to protest laws they believe are unjust, but they are not allowed to flout them - particularly when they are a judge.   Judges are sworn to uphold the state Constitution.  In Utah's case, that means a document that outlaws polygamy.  Steed clearly did not follow that particular law.   While Steed should have stepped down, it is nevertheless an embarrassment to the state of Utah that he served so long and was only removed after Tapestry Against Polygamy asked the Judicial Conduct Commission to investigate Steed.   It is one thing to debate how aggressively the private practice of polygamy should be prosecuted.   It is quite another to put a known polygamist in a position where he is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the laws of the state.     Read more
Sheriff says news reports are 'hype'
Custer County Sheriff Phil Hespen, suddenly besieged by news organizations from around the country last week, Friday described the situation surrounding a 100-acre parcel of land near Pringle as "all hype so far."
By Parker Knox
Custer County Chronicle
Originally published March 16, 2006

Hespen said occupants of the property in Custer County "probably are the same group (as those at a strikingly similar ranch in Texas) but how do we know?"  He said nobody has confirmed any sightings of federal fugitive Warren Jeffs, the leader of a polygamous sect calling itself the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).   "The FBI will catch him sometime, somewhere, but law enforcement has to deal with facts," Hespen said.  "It is no surprise that the FBI is looking for him.   They have been looking for him all along."   Hespen said he understands all the sudden attention a news story out of Texas has cast on Custer County.   "They have a totally different lifestyle than ours, so they're hard to understand," he said of the group which allegedly occupies the land southwest of Pringle inside the Custer County line.  However, Hespen pointed out, whoever occupies that property "has been here for 2 1/2 years."     Read more
Big Love: Romney, Bush & The Mormons
By Suzan Mazur
Scoop Independent News - New Zealand
Originally published Monday, 10 April, 2006

"As for George Romney, [late] governor of Michigan [Mitt Romney's father]. . .The Romneys still live in the predominately Mormon community of Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua [historically a polygamy colony], the Stake in that part of Mexico, 5,000 people live there. It is located some 18 miles west of Casa Grandes in a beautiful valley filled with apple orchards. There are now 3 million Mormons in Mexico and they have a goal of 30 million by 2020. Their missionaries are literally everywhere. There were also still some of the Hatch family at Colonia Juarez just a few years ago."
      -- John Hart, Religion Writer

"I have to admit that as a Mormon, I beleive that marriage should be between a man and a woman - and a woman and a woman..."
      -- Mitt Romney at a political roast in Boston March 2005.

Aside from HBO's Big Love series generating big laughs at the expense of tens of thousand of women and children who languish in polygamy cults up and down the Rocky Mountains as American Justice looks the other way [Philadelphia Inquirer | 04/02/2006 | Putting polygamy in the spotlight] -- the show is believed designed to clear the air for a successful 2008 US presidential bid by Massachusetts Republican governor Mitt Romney.

Romney is one of the most prominent members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which says it has banned polygamy. So far, however, Romney has not made any public remarks condemning the widespread practice. He has instead joked about it.     Read more
I, Markus
As the media target polygamy yet again, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff tries steering a course through Utah's toughest issue.
By Stephen Dark
Salt Lake City Weekly
Originally published April 20, 2006

Utah's Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is not, and never has been, a practicing polygamist. But he knows quite a few of them.   Like many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, polygamists rest in his ancestral closet. Among his classmates at Brighton High School were members of the polygamous Steed family.   "They were a little bit embarrassing with their long dresses.  It was just easier to ignore them," he says.   Not any more.   Bill Paxton's buttocks aside, whatever artistic merits HBO's Big Love may or may not have, it has focused media attention at a local, national and even international level on what Utah is doing — or not doing — about polygamy.   How the LDS Church feels about this is a moot point.   Judging by the church's Website, it's less than happy that, 116 years after "polygamy was officially discontinued," HBO is blurring "the line between the modern Church and the program's subject matter."   Church-abiding Utahns watching the first episode might well have felt a nervous zing during one scene, when the polygamous hero finished business negotiations in his lawyer's office.  Over his shoulders and through the window stood the LDS temple.   Some argue the Church still tacitly accepts polygamy.  They point to the continued inclusion in the LDS Church's Doctrines and Covenants of Section 132 where, via divine revelation, God espoused polygamy to Joseph Smith.   Church members believe in a polygamous afterlife.     Read more
Shurtleff's Posturing
Letters by City Weekly Readers
Salt Lake City Weekly
Originally published May 4, 2006

The thought of decriminalizing polygamy is repugnant ["I, Markus," April 20, City Weekly].  The same recommendations have been made in Canada by Dr. Martha Bailey in a report released earlier this year.  As far as I am concerned, Bailey committed treason against her own gender!  Three other papers included in this report on polygamy in Canada called for no changes in our national laws against polygamy, more research and caution.   Everyone knows that polygamy in religious groups is driven by patriarchy that claims a hold on the very lives and souls of the young girls and women under its control.  Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's posturing statement that there are not enough resources to "lock them all up" and "put all the kids in foster care" is moot.  Most of the women in polygamy are signing up for the welfare rolls as it is.   The patriarchy of polygamy for the most part have only one natural resource to give: their semen.  Their ability to provide for so many wives and children thins out as the numbers increase.     Read more
Arizona's 1953 Raid on Sect Backfired
The polygamists gained sympathy when they were rounded up. An era of political timidity followed.
By David Kelly and Gary Cohn
The Los Angeles Times
Originally published May 12, 2006

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — Horrified by stories of rape, incest and men taking young girls as brides, the new governor of Arizona quietly made plans to invade this polygamist settlement in the summer of 1953.   Shortly before dawn on July 26, a raiding party of about 120 law enforcement officers — state Highway Patrol, sheriff's deputies and liquor control agents — descended on the community, which was then called Short Creek.   Somewhere in the desert, a lookout signaled the posse's approach with a blast of dynamite.   "Me and my sister went into the garden and hid behind the bushes, and this policeman came looking for us," recalled Shari Hammon, who was 10 at the time.   "He said, 'Get out, ma'am,' to my sister, and my sister said, 'Get the hell out of here!' "   The rest of the town, members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gathered in the schoolyard, waving flags and singing "God Bless America."   By day's end, families and crying children were separated in a scene that would haunt political leaders for years to come.  In all, 36 men were arrested.  Authorities loaded 86 women and 263 children aboard buses to Phoenix.   C.D. Tyra, 86, a former highway patrolman who took part in the raid, recalled encountering a girl, about 8.  She showed off her new patent leather shoes, which Tyra noticed were actually well-worn and stuffed with cardboard to make them fit.   "She was so proud of those shoes," he recalled.   "Then my partner Frank said to me, 'How would you feel if that was your little girl and she was going to get married that night?'  That really got me."     Read more
Utah Supreme Court upholds polygamy law
Chris Vanocur
Originally broadcast May 16, 2006

A majority of the state's supreme court says polygamy is illegal, but the chief justice disagrees.  In an historic 4 to 1 decision, the court ruled Tuesday against a former polygamist police officer.   According to the state, when Ruth Stubbs was 16, she was forced to marry Rodney Holm a man twice her age.  But Holm, then a police officer, was eventually convicted of bigamy and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.   Tuesday, that conviction was upheld by Utah's Supreme Court.  But what is surprising to some in the legal community is the unusual dissent from chief justice Chistine Durham.   Using strong language, Durham argues polygamy is a protected religious freedom.  In fact, Holm's attorney calls Durham's dissent historic.   Rod Parker, Holm's attorney, said, "In my recollection of cases about polygamy, going all the way back to 1879, I don't think I've seen a dissent like that."     Read more
Ratting out ignored polygamy
By Daniel Cullen
The Daily Barometer - Oregon State University
Originally published May 17, 2006

Turn on the TV to CNN or whatever news channel it is that you find to be least sensationalist these days, as I did recently, and it won't be long before you come across a top-10 pin-up multi-millionaire stud called Warren Steed Jeffs.  But don't take my word for it; ask one of his reputed 70, or more, wives who are currently camping out in Colorado City, and possibly Arizona, Hildale and Utah.   Jeffs is the self-proclaimed prophet, aka "speaker of God's will," of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and for the last year this man has been on the run after a string of federal allegations were made against him, primarily for polygamy, evasion of the law and statutory rape.  Consequently, these accolades have earned Jeffs' place of pride on America's Ten Most Wanted.   Hard to believe really that this story is not coming out of the latest Hollywood blockbuster, but the real lives of people whom American authorities have let slip through the net.     Read more
Drama, Hypocrisy, and Polygamy As Senate Panel Approves Gay Marriage Amendment
By Tom Ball
Political Cortex
Originally published May 19, 2006

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to approve a constitutional amendment stating that marriage in the United States shall consist only of the "union of a man and a woman."  But the amendment is not expected to get the approval of two-thirds of the Senate, which is necessary to pass a constitutional amendment.   Stating the obvious, Democrats "complained that bringing up the amendment is a political move designed to appeal to the GOP's conservative base in a midterm-election year."   Well duh!   Perhaps a clever Democrat could find a way to defer debate on the issue until after November?   CNN's The Situation Room reported "one Democrat walked out of the session that was held in a private chamber just off the Senate floor."  Sen. Russ Feingold "complained to Chairman Arlen Specter that the meeting wasn't sufficiently open to the public.  We're told that led to this exchange.  Specter told Feingold, 'I don't need to be lectured by you.   You are no more of a protector of the Constitution than am I.  If you want to leave, good riddance.'  Feingold then responded, 'I've enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman.  See you.'"   More interestingly, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said "Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who supports the gay-marriage ban, has expressed support for polygamists in his home state of Utah.   "I never said that," Hatch responded.   "I know some (polygamists) that are very sincere. ... Don't accuse me of wanting to have polygamy."   In fact, Senator Hatch DID express support for polygamists in Utah.     Read more
Anti-polygamists protest panel
Tapestry says U.S. funding enables practice, crimes
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Monday, May 22, 2006

An anti-polygamy group is criticizing Sen. Orrin Hatch for his financial support of a committee set up by Utah's attorney general to handle abuses and build bridges with polygamous communities.   Tapestry Against Polygamy says federal funding going to the Utah Attorney General's Safety Net Committee is enabling polygamy and its crimes.   "On the Safety Net Committee he's got pro-polygamists — those are his advisers — including abusers," said Tapestry board member Andrea Moore-Emmett.   "Tapestry is very concerned about money being used that way.  There's not one dime they can show us that they've used to help women and children leaving."   Paul Murphy, the Utah Attorney General's Safety Net Committee coordinator, disputed Tapestry's claims.   "We have a grant coordinator, a case manager, shelters, women being provided with the first month's rent so they can get a place to stay.   There's lawyers to help, there's a 24-hour domestic violence hotline," he said Saturday.   "I find the assertions from Tapestry that we're not helping women and children bizarre."     Read more
Reports Reconfirm Hatch Said He Condones Polygamy
By Suzan Mazur
Scoop Independent News - New Zealand
Originally published Wednesday, 24 May 2006

Last week on these pages I cited a polygamy political coverup, which includes US Senator Orrin Hatch (Rep-UT), who is on record as condoning polygamy.  With US Senator Patrick Leahy (Dem-VT) several days after the Scoop story appeared taking on Hatch over Hatch's now-infamous polygamy comments at a southern Utah town meeting in April 2003, just 35 miles from the fundamentalist Mormon polygamy cult's headquarters in Utah, and Hatch in denial about the statements -- I decided to revisit the event by contacting questioners present at the time.   I also took another look at published reports of the meeting.   Hatch, in a further attempt to shake off accusations about defending polygamy, said last week he's helped to secure a federal grant to aid those fleeing polygamy in Utah.   But, both questioners at the town meeting in St. George, Utah -- anti-polygamy activists Robert Curran and Sonja Blancke -- have told me Hatch definitely made the statements as reported in newspaper accounts.  And Nancy Perkins of the Deseret News, one of two news organizations present, stands by the accuracy of what she wrote (story below).     Read more
Senator John McCain Passes The Buck On Polygamy
By Suzan Mazur
Scoop Independence News - New Zealand
Originally published Friday, 26 May 2006

In the interests of balancing Senatorial responsibility for the absence of law enforcement action against polygamy, while the FLDS, America's largest polygamy cult, is incorporated in Utah -- members live and vote on either side of the Utah-Arizona border.  That means media darling John McCain's (R--AZ) stance on polygamy is also an issue [Scoop: Reports Reconfirm Hatch Said He Condones Polygamy], particularly because of McCain's 2008 US presidential aspirations.  McCain twice ducked my requests for comment for articles on polygamy, first in 2000 for the front page of the Weekend Financial Times Seven brides for one brother: Plural marriage is rife in the western United States, and then for a piece that ran March 2005 both in Scoop and CounterPunch, where I noted:
"Arizona is even less responsive on the Babyland issue [unmarked children's graves in the FLDS canyonlands]. John McCain (R - AZ), who is incensed about Iraq POW humiliation, takes campaign contributions in part from Mohave County where the FLDS is headquartered on the Arizona side of the border. McCain failed to comment for my Financial Times October 2000 cover story on polygamy and his assistant press secretary, Crystal Benton, told me last year regarding the Babyland matter that his schedule was "too hectic" for him to make a statement, although she wouldn't want it to be reported that the Senator had "no comment".
    Read more
Colorado City chief arrested on warrants
By Wendy Leonard
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, May 27, 2006

The mayor pro-tem of the polygamous border town of Colorado City, Ariz., has been arrested on outstanding warrants.   Terrill C. Johnson, 57, was booked into the Purgatory Jail late Friday.   Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith said Johnson was arrested just after the Colorado City Town Council meeting.   "Our deputy was assisted by the Colorado City Town Marshal's Office who approached Mr. Johnson and informed him of the warrants," Smith said.  The sheriff described the warrants as felonies for a "vehicle registration issue."   Johnson voluntarily submitted to the court orders and was taken into custody.   He was booked into the Purgatory Correctional Facility, and bail was set at $5,000.  He later posted bail and was released.   The arrest warrant was filed along with charges in 5th District Court in Washington County.  Johnson was charged with eight counts of false evidences of title and registration, all second-degree felonies that are each punishable by up to 15 years in jail and a $5,000 fine.   Washington County Sheriff's Lt. Jake Adams said the investigation was performed by an outside agency, presumably the county attorney's office.  He said the instructions to serve the warrant came quickly.     Read more
Proud American
By Adam Benson
The Herald Journal - Logan, Utah
Originally published Monday, July 3, 2006

HYRUM — Utah's unique brand of patriotism is forging footsteps for the rest of the country to follow, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Sunday.   "In this state more than any place else and in communities like Hyrum, we understand that it takes all of us to work together to preserve our freedoms," the state's top lawyer told a crowd of about 500.   "I am so proud to know that in Utah, we stand by not just with our words."   In a roughly 20-minute speech that kicked off Hyrum's Independence Day festivities, Shurtleff drew parallels between the turbulent years since the Sept. 11 terror attacks to another — yet largely forgotten — period of American history: The War of 1812.   In that fight, American troops fought to preserve the "experiment" of democracy against British forces who tried to regain control of the new nation.   "That would have been the end of the American experience," said Shurtleff.  As English naval ships bombarded Fort McHenry in Baltimore, it was left up to a small handful of men to fend them off.   The fort was pounded with cannonballs through the night, but the American flag was still flying the next morning, providing the inspiration for Francis Scott Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner."   "Our flag still flies, and that's what is so wonderful about it," said Shurtleff.     Read more
Hildale City Council continues to shrink
Dan Jessop turns in letter of resignation to the city
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published August 16, 2006

HURRICANE - After two city council members resigned in the last few weeks, the remaining members of the Hildale City Council will all need to be present at meetings for the council to have a quorum.  Hildale Mayor David Zitting said he received a written notice from Dan Jessop resigning from the council earlier this month and another from William Jessop, which was more recent.  Zitting said the notice of vacancies would be posted immediately and he wants to be optimistic that he will have some names to present to the council in September.  "Last time it took six months to fill a vacancy but I want to be a little positive," Zitting said.  The city council held its regular meeting Tuesday morning with all three of the remaining councilmember's present, however Zitting said it could be a problem in the future if a council member is missing and there are items to be addressed on the agenda that require a council vote.  "I have stressed that everyone needs to be there," Zitting said.  "We also have other boards - the power and the utility boards - and we ratify their actions and we do approve the paying of the bills each month although the treasurer has been directed in the past that the bills need to be paid in a timely manner.  Neither man gave any reason for resigning, however Zitting did say Dan Jessop is "getting up there in age."  But when Dan Jessop was sworn onto the council in January, he said he was tempted to get off but said he would be around for a while longer.     Read more
Jeffs: It's not about religion
The Spectrum
Originally published September 2, 2006

Prosecuting a polygamist in Utah is a gutsy thing.  David Leavitt became the former Juab County Attorney after his successful prosecution of Tom Green five years ago.  Green, an avowed fundamentalist Mormon who boasted that he lived with his five wives and 29 children, was the first high-profile Utah bigamy case in nearly 50 years.  "How can somebody claim to be a Mormon and say that plural marriage is wicked?" Green told the Reuters news agency after his conviction.  Apparently, enough Juab County voters agreed as Leavitt was defeated next time he came up for election.  Now that Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap has reeled in the biggest fish in the polygamy pool - Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - will it come back to bite him politically?  Most of the 30,000 or so polygamists in this country live in Utah, which was settled by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The church abandoned the practice of multiple marriages in 1890 as a condition of statehood.  However, you would be hard-pressed today to find a church family without polygamy in its heritage, which may be why not much has been done over the years to clean up this little mess in Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz.     Read more
Hildale council names two replacements
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published September 12, 2006

HILDALE — The Hildale City Council met in executive session this morning for approximately 20 minutes to select two new council members.  Phillip Barlow and Edson Holm were named to fill the terms of Dan Jessop and William Jessop, also known as William Timpson, who recently resigned.  Both will serve until next year's election.  Edson's position will then be up for reelection two years after that.  The council chose from among four candidates, the other two being Jethro Barlow and Wilford Williams.  For more, please see tomorrow's edition of The Spectrum & Daily News.
New councilors sworn in
Hildale City Council swears in two men
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published September 13, 2006

HILDALE - After a 20-minute, closed-door executive session Tuesday morning, the Hildale City Council unanimously appointed Philip Barlow and Edson Holm to fill vacancies left by William E. Jessop and Dan Jessop who resigned from the council last month.  Hildale Mayor David Zitting said the last time there was a vacancy on the council it took six months to fill, but this time six people expressed an interest, although two did not follow through with applications.  Letters of interest were presented to the city by Jethro Barlow, Philip Barlow, Wilford Williams and Holm.  Zitting said he asked each person to write some kind of statement that he would read to the council.  Afterward, each would address the council before it went into executive session.  "Because we are considering very important positions and specific people to fill these positions, I am recommending that after we go through the presentations, the city council go into a closed executive session so they can feel free to discuss among themselves these individual situations," Zitting said.  Following the session, Zitting said all of the candidates were capable and that the city council knew three of them very well.     Read more
Not sure voters will take a bite of what Sen. Reid is cooking
The Spectrum
Originally published September 18, 2006

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is a mover and shaker, but I can't figure out what he's trying to cook up.  What does he actually hope to accomplish by launching a federal probe into the polygamist communities of Hildale, Utah, Colorado City, Ariz., and other polygamous sects in the Western United States?  Is he grandstanding because he's up for election?  The Senate Minority Leader sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last week that is being reviewed by the Justice Department.  In it, Reid asks Gonzales to appoint a task force to investigate interstate activities of the "modern day polygamy movement" and prosecute when appropriate.  While it is admirable that Reid has recognized the problem and brought national attention to the issue, Utah and Arizona law enforcement and legal teams have been doing exactly what he's proposed for decades - and with federal support.  So adding a dash of federal salt for flavoring seems unsavory.  Neither state, nor the U.S. for that matter, will benefit from an added governmental layer of oversight into what has taken years of painstaking perseverance and unprecedented patience with the insulated communities, which has made it extremely difficult to protect victims or pursue perpetrators.     Read more
Jeffs case a political ploy?
Candidate accuses his opponent of charging for political gain.
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, October 6, 2006

ST. GEORGE — The criminal case against captured polygamist leader Warren Jeffs could become a factor in the race for Washington County attorney.  Libertarian candidate Aric Cramer Sr. is accusing incumbent Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap of filing rape-as-an-accomplice charges against the Fundamentalist LDS Church leader for political gain.  "I think it was brought now because it was election time," Cramer told the Deseret Morning News late Thursday.  "I think he did this to boost his ratings.  I think the timing of it shows that."  Cramer went on to say that he would never have charged Jeffs without first convicting the so-called "rapist."  "I'm not saying I wouldn't have brought it (the Jeffs case), but I think it was brought prematurely because of the election," he said.  The criminal charges against Jeffs were filed in April 2006.  In an interview Thursday with KCSG-TV in St. George, Belnap denied the accusations.  "There are sure a lot of armchair quarterbacks.  I'm hearing a lot of that," he said.  "But I want to assure the people of our community that every decision we've made with respect to this case is legally grounded.  We have made our choices very carefully."     Read more
Montgomery: Arizona offers challenges
AG candidate offers viewpoints in Kingman
By Jennifer Bartlett
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published October 10, 2006

KINGMAN - Bill Montgomery, Republican candidate for Arizona attorney general, made several stops in Kingman last week, educating voters on his viewpoints and goals for office.  Montgomery spent Friday morning with the Route 66 Rotary, making clear his views on leadership in the statewide office.  A West Point graduate (1989) and Desert Storm veteran, Montgomery has had his share of serving his country.  After the service, he graduated from the Arizona State University College of Law.  After a short period in California, Montgomery moved with his wife to Maricopa County, where he prosecuted for the county for several years.  "I think, in this coming year, the state has some significant leadership challenges to address," he said.  "And there is a unique role for the Attorney General's Office to play."  He has specific goals in mind as he draws into the final month of campaigning before he takes on incumbent Terry Goddard to decide who will continue as Arizona's attorney general.  Arizona, he said, has the worst crime rate in the nation.  The state can also "boast" having the second worst property crime rate.  Arizona also has the worst crime rate in the nation for identity theft, he said.     Read more
Keep Goddard on the job
The Arizona Republic
Originally published October 16, 2006

As was the case in 2002, the race for attorney general pits Terry Goddard, a veteran of decades of public policy and political life, against a relative newcomer - a young, bright, conservative Republican attorney largely unknown to the public.  And again, Goddard is the choice for attorney general on Nov. 7.  He's better prepared, more experienced and can point to a very solid record of accomplishment.  Goddard, a Democrat, has shown the same crusading zeal for protecting consumers and attacking financial fraud that his predecessors showed.  But he also has exhibited a conscientious respect for the underlying but unglamorous duties of the office: providing competent legal counsel to numerous state agencies.  His opponent, Bill Montgomery, is an attractive candidate - just not for this office at this time.  A West Point graduate, Montgomery served in Desert Shield, then moved to Arizona in 1998 to pursue a law degree and start a family.  Before the campaign, he worked for the Crime Victim Assistance Program.  He's active in his community in Gilbert.  Lamentably, Montgomery's campaign has been built on a somewhat misleading premise, hammering Goddard on rising crime rates and promising to combat it.  Fighting street crime is not the function of the attorney general.  It's the job of the sheriff or county attorney or police chief.  But crime makes better headlines and politics than describing the deliberative work of running the state's largest law firm.  In contrast, Goddard, a former mayor of Phoenix, has won national recognition through solid accomplishments, starting with his laudable and historic efforts to clean up polygamy in Colorado City.  For years, authorities knew of the shame and scandal thriving in Colorado City, where, under the cover of religious freedom, an isolated sect of monsters carried on a medieval abuse of children.     Read more
AG Candidate Addresses County's Top Issues
Tri-State News Network
Originally published October 24, 2006

KINGMAN, AZ - Republican Attorney General nominee Bill Montgomery made a number of Mohave County campaign stops during a four day stretch in early October.  The Gilbert resident, during a Kingman visit, said he'll worker harder, if elected, to partner with county officials to prosecute crimes in Colorado City.  "Mohave County is the only governmental entity in the state of Arizona to get indictments against Warren Jeffs and to bring other prosecutions against other people associated with child abuse and the underage marriages."  Montgomery said the arrest and incarceration of the Colorado City community and church leader makes this the perfect time to seek out victims and prosecute cases.  "This is an opportunity for the state of Arizona to demonstrate to the entire state, to the nation and to the entire world that we're not going to allow a lawless situation to continue," Montgomery said.     Read more
Polygamists poll Utah candidates for views on outlawed practice
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
San Diego Union-Tribune
Originally published October 25, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY – A voting bloc has emerged that campaign managers may not have anticipated: Utah polygamists.  Communities in Harmony – made up of Utah-based groups that practice polygamy – polled candidates, from judges to members of Congress, and labeled them "open minded" or "negative" on the outlawed practice.  A summary has been mailed to candidates and more than 1,000 polygamists, said Carlene Cannon of Communities in Harmony.  "It's not an issue that most politicians like to talk about," she said.  "But we're here and we have a right to exist and we wanted to let (candidates) know."  Polygamy is illegal in Utah.  But authorities tread lightly, typically choosing to prosecute sex crimes that involve polygamous men and minor girls.  Utah's dominant religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, brought polygamy here in the 1840s, but disavowed it 50 years later.  It now excommunicates polygamists.  But Utah's fundamentalists, who are estimated to number more than 30,000, believe polygamy is central to their glorification in heaven.  Communities in Harmony polled candidates in 256 races for Congress, the Utah Legislature, the judiciary and Salt Lake County district attorney.     Read more
The State of Her State
A look at the progress of reform under Governor Janet Napolitano
By Robert Nelson
Phoenix New Times
Originally published October 26, 2006

Janet Napolitano is the most unlikely of political superstars.  A career born in bureaucracy and raised in political backrooms; physically frumpy, asexual and thick, a voice somewhere between that of an adolescent male and the overexcited Howard Dean; brusque, oft combative, grudge prone; hints of Girls State I'm-Trying-Too-Hard rah-rah; more hints of really, really wanting to be somebody.  But God bless Arizonans for growing up and looking past looks.  Because a few things are for sure: Janet is freakin' smart, she works her ass off, and she surrounds herself with equally agile staffers.  And Arizonans have responded to her energy, prog-moderate rhetoric, pragmatic application of policy, and her almost freakish comprehension level of all the little fiefdoms under her purview.  She's even damn funny, especially when she's rattling the cages of Know Nothing birdbrains such as Russell Pearce.  Like quasi-psychopath Diamondback Eric Byrnes, she has given such a strong appearance of competence that even her vague creepiness has become sweetly peculiar.  So, Janet, as we now affectionately, or begrudgingly, refer to her, is our next governor — at least, that's clear as of press time.  And this time, she comes in with what political junkies like to call "political currency."  And briefcases full of it.  Janet Napolitano now owns the broadening political center of Arizona.  Meaning, she should have much less trouble battling both the Bash-'n'-Slash Right in the Legislature and the much less powerful Fruitcake Left in her own party.     Read more
Where's Mitt Romney on the Jeffs Case?
By Taylor Marsh
The Huffington Post
Originally published November 22, 2006

Nowhere.  That's the answer to that question.  If you don't know about the case against Warren Jeffs it's time you learned.  It's got everything: child sex brides, alleged rape, polygamy, slavery, religion, cultism, an ongoing battle to separate a fundamentalism sect from the father church, hypocrisy, crimes and ruined lives, and even politics.  Former Massachusetts Governor Willard Milton Romney didn't want to talk about "Big Love" when it debuted either.  Talking about polygamy and plural marriages while running for president is such a political buzz killer.  The next question is why doesn't the corporate press think this is important?  Mitt Romney, the man I've been saying for months is the real threat to Democrats in 2008, doesn't like to talk about his faith, which is odd, especially considering he is in the "100 most influential Latter-day Saints of all time."  In fact, he jokes about polygamy whenever he's asked about it.  Romney is LDS, a Mormon and a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints, as is Senate majority leader Harry Reid, by the way.  LDS has nothing whatsoever to do with FLDS, the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-day Saints, which not only condones plural marriages, but insists upon them.  However, when you've got child slaves and child brides throughout the southwest, including Bush's Texas, Reid's Nevada, Colorado and Utah, it seems to me that powerful politicians who also happen to be LDS are in a place to actually change what happens or at least show a little outrage and put pressure on local communities that look the other way.  They should, at the very least, be asked about it.  Or maybe people think that's just too impolite?  Tough.     Read more
Can a Mormon be President?
Why Mitt Romney will have to explain a faith that remains mysterious to many
By Mike Allen
TIME Magazine
Originally published Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006

A mormon church official and a public relations executive shuttled recently from the Fox News Washington bureau to the Washington Post to the online political digest the Hotline.  The two were engaging in a little pre-emptive rearguard action, gearing up for the impending Republican presidential campaign of Massachusetts Governor (Willard) Mitt Romney, 59, whose family has long been part of the church's ιlite.  Like other minorities--ethnic or religious--Mormons are proud of those among them who make it big.  When Steve Young, a descendant of church leader Brigham Young and a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, was taking snaps on Monday Night Football in the 1990s, his fellow Mormons took to calling Family Home Evening, their weekly togetherness meeting, Family Home Halftime instead.  But church officials are wary of the impact Romney's candidacy could have on them--and on the portrayal of their faith.  Yes, his campaign will bring attention and credibility to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), as the Mormons are formally known, and give them a chance to demystify their theology and customs.  But church officials also calculate that Romney's bid to succeed George W. Bush could remind some mainstream Christians just how different Mormonism is from their faith and perhaps expose their flock to more of the sort of discrimination that drove their founders west by handcart and covered wagon into the Great Salt Lake Valley.     Read more
Mark Shurtleff: Attorney general tackles Utah's toughest issues
By Doug Robinson
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mark Shurtleff, Utah's attorney general, recently held a family meeting to discuss his political future.  Should he run for office again in 2008?  His wife, M'Liss, and his children came down squarely against it.  "Daddy, I don't want you to be AG anymore," his daughter Danielle once told him tearfully.  Why would she?  Shurtleff is considered the literal Antichrist by some polygamist groups.  His Utah State Bar number is only further confirmation in their minds — 4666, or "for" 666.  He has received death threats, one of which led to the arrest of a man with a sawed-off shotgun.  At times law enforcement officials have urged him to wear a bulletproof vest and avoid windows in his house.  He feels compelled to carry a pistol wherever he goes.  (On the other hand, some polygamists reason that since he's the Antichrist, he can't be killed, so why bother.)     Read more
Bill would help women leaving polygamists
By David Biscobing and Mike Meyer
Cronkite News Service
Tucson Citizen
Originally published January 23, 2007

PHOENIX - Women who leave polygamist husbands should be given sole custody of their children, a state lawmaker says. Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, is sponsoring two bills he says would help protect women and children in places such as Colorado City in northern Arizona.  "What's happening up there is clearly child and spousal abuse," said Lujan, who is also an attorney for a children's justice organization.  HB 2325, which had yet to be assigned to a committee as of Tuesday, deals with polygamy and child bigamy, an offense that includes married adults taking minors as spouses and adults causing minors to marry adults who already have spouses.  The bill would give women full custody of children and would bar husbands from unsupervised visits if the court finds "sufficient evidence" that the husbands have engaged and will continue to engage in polygamy, child bigamy or both.  At present, Lujan said, husbands can be granted joint or sole custody even when polygamy is alleged because those situations are treated like traditional child-custody cases.  "There needs to be a distinction between the two.  Otherwise, children will be sent back and married, which is nothing but sexual abuse," he said.     Read more
Panel tables wrongful death bill
By Geoffrey Fattah
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Citing concerns over mistresses and even polygamous wives stepping in to sue for wrongful death, a bill that would give a domestic partner standing in court was tabled in committee Wednesday.  SB58, sponsored by Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake, would allow a person to designate in their will a person, who they reside with in a "mutually dependent relationship," who can sue for wrongful death.  In addition to non-married heterosexual couples, grandparents raising grandchildren and other alternative living arrangements, McCoy, who is gay, also expressed personal concern for his partner.  McCoy, a member of the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee, told fellow committee members he worries if he was hit by a bus, his domestic partner would not be able to seek compensation for the financial loss created by his death.  Those domestic partners designated to sue for wrongful death in a will would still have to prove their financial loss in court, McCoy said.  However, several lawmakers on the other side of the political aisle expressed concern.     Read more
The Mormon who wants to be president
By Toby Harnden in Aiken, South Carolina
The Daily Telegraph - London, England
Originally published February 1, 2007

The Republican presidential candidate whose telegenic looks have earned him the nickname "Matinee Mitt" prefers to talk about keeping taxes low and defeating global jihad.  But many voters want to know how he is guided by his Mormon faith.  "I get asked a good deal," Mitt Romney told The Daily Telegraph.  "I'm proud of my heritage, proud of my faith."  Being a Mormon would not be an impediment to reaching the White House, the former Massachusetts governor insisted.  "People want to see a person of faith lead the country, but they don't particularly care which band of faith that might be — as long as they share the values which are known as being part of our American heritage, and I certainly share those values."  Mr Romney, 59, is running third in polls behind Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, and Senator John McCain but has built an organisational and fund-raising structure that leads many Republicans to believe he will emerge as the party's nominee next year.  His impressive record in salvaging the 2002 Winter Olympics and balancing the budget in the most Left-wing state in America, as well as an appearance and manner that marks him out as a White House occupant from central casting, also give him powerful advantages.  But Mr Romney's attempts to stake out a position as the most socially conservative of the three main candidates are complicated by his Mormon faith as well as a liberal stance on abortion rights as recently as 2004.  "He's going to have to come out and discuss being a Mormon," said Mary Hahn, 50, at a Romney event at Lizard's Thicket diner in Columbia, state capital of South Carolina.     Read more
Polygamy was prominent in Romney's family tree
His ancestry lists several men who had multiple wives
By Jennifer Dobner and Glen Johnson
Associated Press
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, February 25, 2007

While Mitt Romney condemns polygamy and its prior practice by his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Republican presidential candidate's great-grandfather had five wives and at least one of his great-great-grandfathers had 12.  Polygamy was not just a historical footnote but a prominent element in the family tree of the former Massachusetts governor now seeking to become the first LDS president.  Romney's great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, married his fifth wife in 1897.  That was more than six years after LDS church leaders banned polygamy and more than three decades after a federal law barred the practice.  Romney's great-grandmother, Hannah Hood Hill, was the daughter of polygamists.  She wrote vividly in her autobiography about how she "used to walk the floor and shed tears of sorrow" over her own husband's multiple marriages.  Romney's great-great-grandfather Parley P. Pratt, an apostle in the church, had 12 wives.  In an 1852 sermon, Parley P. Pratt's brother and fellow apostle, Orson Pratt, became the first church official to publicly proclaim and defend polygamy as a direct revelation from God.  Romney's father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, where church members fled in the 1800s to escape religious persecution and U.S. laws forbidding polygamy.     Read more
Keep 'Lost Boys' on the radar
The Spectrum
Originally published March 1, 2007

Legislation that makes it a felony to exile a child under the age of 18 didn't make it past committee this general session.   It is a bill sure to resurface that needs to boldly flash across the radar screen by lawmakers because it specifically deals with the lives of abandoned children.  House Majority Leader David Clark, R-Santa Clara, sponsored a sister bill, House Bill 468, after listening to the stories of teenagers who either ran away or were banished from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the twin towns of Hildale and Colorado City.  It, too, didn't make it out of committee.  Clark's bill was carefully worded so as to help any child in the position of abandonment for more than 30 days.  It would have provided transitional services from the Division of Child and Family Services for "abused, neglected or dependent children of bigamist families."  It had a fiscal appropriation of $250,000 with no expiration date that would be paid out of the state's general fund.  As national attention is focused on FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, who is facing criminal charges in Utah and Arizona for allegedly forcing teenage girls into marriages with older men, the children caught up in the aftermath of the disintegrating FLDS communities have found themselves fending for themselves with little more than an elementary-level education.  Apparently, this concentration also distracted Utah's Congress from passing the bills so necessary at the present time.     Read more
Child Bigamy Custody Bill stalled by Arizona State Representative Eddie Farnsworth
Flora Jessop can be reached at 602-373-0793
March 2, 2007

ARIZONA LAWMAKER, EDDIE FARNSWORTH, REFUSES TO HEAR A BILL which would protect women and children desperate to escape the oppression and abuse of polygamy claiming he does not believe those practicing CHILD BIGAMY make bad parents.

CHILD BIGAMY is MOLESTATION OF CHILDREN and against the law, yet Rep. Farnsworth believes child bigamists make good parents? When Arizona citizens learn that this legislator is thwarting this very popular HB 2325 by refusing to hear it in the House Judiciary Committee he chairs, after it passed unanimously in House Human Services, they will think hard before putting him in charge of making laws that protect children. Representative and Justice for Children Attorney, David Lujan, wrote this important bill based on the case studies he's witnessed of those protective parents escaping polygamy, trying to make a life in the outside world.

Child Victim Advocate Flora Jessop is disturbed and outraged by the comments of Arizona Representative Eddie Farnsworth in regard to HB 2325 which would help women fleeing the abusive polygamist cults protect their children. HB 2325, is designed to create a much needed safety net for these children. According to the committee chair, Eddie Farnsworth, practicing child-bigamy does not make you an unfit parent and any bill targeting polygamy is not something he is willing to consider.

"Step up or step out Rep. Farnsworth but stop blocking HB 2325", says Flora about the measure which would help break the cycle of abuse.
Read more
Anti-Polygamy Activist Challenges State Representative
By Kevin Tripp
KTAR News 92.3 - Phoenix
Originally broadcast March 2, 2007

She's taken on polygamy and now activist Flora Jessop is taking on a member of the State House.  Jessop is well known for helping children escape polygamy but on Friday, her anger was directed at State Representative Eddie Farnsworth.  She wants the Gilbert Republican to support legislation aimed at polygamists.  "If in the initial court dealings, it was proven that the parent, that one of the parens was a practicing polygamist or a child bigamist, they could not get custody of their children," she said.  "It would stop polygamists - practicing polygamists or people that practice child bigamy - from getting custody or unsupervised visitation of their children."  Jessop said Farnsworth won't bring the bill before his committee and she hasn't been told why.  "I tried to contact Representative Farnsworth three days ago to speak with him about this and he has yet to get back with me," she said.  Jessop said that not presenting this bill contradicts Farnsworth's previous stands on polygamy.  "I find it fascinating that now he is reversing his stance to make it appear that practicing child bigmy is not a concern," she said.  Farnsworth was not available for comment.
Opinions are diverse on 'those Mormons'
Snapshot of views ranges from cult to big, close-knit families
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, March 3, 2007

Americans identify polygamy with the LDS Church more than anything else, including Donny and Marie.  And, a new Gallup poll released Friday shows, 46 percent of the nation has an unfavorable opinion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, compared to 42 percent who have a favorable opinion.  "Something about the Mormon religion apparently disturbs a significant portion of the American population," according to the Gallup News Service.  But scholars and political scientists say the results shouldn't concern Mormons, who belong to one of the fastest-growing religions in America.   "I don't think it's anything to get too excited about because it's not that bad," said Rodney Stark, Baylor University professor of social sciences.  "A whole lot of Americans have never met a Mormon."  The nationwide Gallup telephone survey of 1,018 adults, conducted Feb. 22-25, shows the negative attitudes appear to be based on more than just concerns about the Utah-based religion in a presidential context.  The poll, which can be found at, has a 4 percent margin of error.  Gallup earlier surveyed voters about a Mormon, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, running for president.  It showed a quarter of the country would not vote for an otherwise well-qualified presidential candidate who is LDS.  A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 29 percent would not vote for a Mormon hopeful.     Read more
Shurtleff seeks re-election
Utah's AG says third term would be his last
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, March 20, 2007

ST. GEORGE — Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has made up his mind: He's running for re-election one last time.   "Yeah, absolutely," he said in response to a Deseret Morning News reporter's questions Monday.  "We have started so many things we have got to see through."  Speaking after the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council meeting at Dixie State College, Shurtleff said he still wants to finish what he started in investigating crimes within polygamy, fighting identity theft and battling drugs.  The populist Shurtleff said he's optimistic about his chances for re-election.  "It depends on whether another Republican challenges me," he said, adding that getting out of the GOP convention probably would be his biggest hurdle to re-election.  At times, Shurtleff's positions on a number of hot-button issues — including immigration, hate-crimes laws and a same-sex marriage amendment — have placed him at odds with members of his own party.  Shurtleff also has faced criticism for his investigations into crimes within polygamy, as well as his efforts to reach out and build bridges within the closed polygamous communities to get them to report abuse and neglect.     Read more
Child-custody bill tied to polygamists is dead
By David Biscobing
Cronkite News Service
The Arizona Republic
Originally published March 26, 2007

A bill aimed at helping women leave polygamist husbands apparently will go no further this legislative session.  HB 2325 would have denied husbands child custody if a court found "sufficient evidence" that they engaged in polygamy or child bigamy, an offense that includes married adults taking a child spouse and adults forcing children to enter plural marriages.  Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, said Monday that the bill, which won unanimous approval from the House Human Services Committee, won't take the next step and be heard by the Judiciary Committee.  He said a second bill to provide funds for shelters helping women who leave polygamous marriages also won't advance.  "It's unfortunate that these aren't moving forward, but I'm going to continue pushing these because I feel they are important," said Lujan, who also is the staff attorney for the Arizona chapter of Justice for Children, a national child advocacy group.  Lujan introduced the bills after a visit to Colorado City last year with a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect that practices polygamy.  "It's child abuse flat-out," Lujan said.  "There is tremendous fear and pressure put on them, and they need support."     Read more
Opinions: Defending the defenseless
Polygamy divorce law a plea for basic human rights
ASU Web Devil - Arizona State University
Originally published Tuesday, March 27, 2007

When it comes to national news coverage, Arizona just can't seem to catch a break.  Nobody ever talks about the nice things we're doing, like the hospitals and schools we're building, or the wonderful light rail we'll all enjoy.  Instead, they'd rather poke fun at us.  They mock us as we carry our guns into our bars.  They mock our sheriff for... being Joe Arpaio.  They talk about our high gas prices.  And, over the past year or so, the issue of polygamy has once again brought Arizona into the limelight to be appropriately criticized.  The isolated polygamous communities along Arizona's border with Utah has all the makings of a media circus.  There's Warren Jeffs, a charismatic leader who disappeared in the face of a federal search.  There's corruption of epic proportions, manifesting itself most recently in the trial of police officers who were allegedly derelict in their duties in enforcing law in the small towns.  And, worst of all, in these towns, there is an entire class of defenseless victims - a class has been the subject of news articles and features on national network news shows.  They are the women who are trapped in polygamous marriages.     Read more
Mormons Heighten Public Relations Efforts
By Andrew Glass
The Politico
Capitol News Company, LLC
Originally published April 9, 2007

Amid heightened scrutiny because of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's White House bid, the Mormon church is raising its public relations profile, making moves that reflect deep concerns over widely held myths about the faith and internal anxiety over the need to convince outsiders that it will remain neutral as a Mormon runs in the 2008 contest.  "We have to walk a very fine line to stay away from political issues," said Michael Otterson, media relations director for the 12.6 million-member worldwide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  "But it is clear that the profile of the church will be raised during this (campaign) period.  All of the things that are going on will serve as catalysts to raise questions about us and who we really are."  In line with its recent restructuring, the church has ended a decade-long relationship with Edelman, the world's largest independent public relations firm, with 2,500 employees in 46 offices worldwide.  Edelman won some distinction in 2002 when it helped the church navigate the Winter Olympics bidding scandal in Salt Lake City.     Read more
Conservative group wants Idaho SC wanna-bes to fill out questionnaire
The Associated Press
KHQ Right Now - Spokane/Coeur d'Alene
Originally broadcast May 7, 2007

BOISE, Idaho A conservative Christian lobbying group has handed out questionaires to 19 candidates to replace Idaho Supreme Court Justice Gerald Schroeder.  The Idaho Values Alliance wants to know things like whether the candidates think bigamy and polygamy should be prohibited - or whether they would limit gun ownership in any way.  Idaho Values Alliance director Bryan Fischer says he thinks the selection process by the Idaho Judicial Council is done too secretly, leaving Idaho residents without access to the leanings of candidates.  The Council will choose from the list, winnowing it down to as few as two candidates from which Governor Butch Otter will make the final selection.  Among the other questions: whether or not the judge candidates favor the death penalty - and if they think gambling is OK.
Romney troubled by Mormonism's polygamous past
Originally published May 10, 2007

BOSTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said his Mormon religious faith's history of polygamy could trouble American voters but that he too is bothered by it.  The former Massachusetts governor, whose great-grandfather had five wives and whose great-great-grandfather had a dozen, said in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday that the practice banned by the Mormon church in 1890 was "awful."  "That's part of the history of the church's past that I understand is troubling to people," he said, according to comments to be aired on the CBS network's "60 Minutes" television program.  Excerpts were released on Thursday.  "I have a great-great grandfather.  They were trying to build a generation out there in the desert and so he took additional wives as he was told to do.  And I must admit, I can't imagine anything more awful than polygamy," he said.  Romney has raised the most money among Republican candidates but opinion polls show him trailing former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Sen. John McCain, as well as Sen. Fred Thompson, who has not formally entered the race.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the faith is formally known, distances itself from 30,000 to 60,000 breakaway Mormons in Utah and nearby states who practice polygamy illegally, as well as the many excommunicated Mormons in polygamous marriages who still identify with the faith.     Read more
Catching Mitt on TV
By Jay D. Homnick
The American Spectator - Arlington, Virginia
Originally published May 14, 2007

I hope you are sitting down for this.  What I am about to tell you may shock your very core.  What this will do to your pacemaker will make a microwave look like a flashlight.  Ready?  Here it comes... Mitt Romney is a Mormon!  Not only that, his great-grandfather was a polygamist!  (No, a polygamist is not someone married to a parrot.  If that was a disqualifier, then Alan Greenspan would have had to leave office as soon as he married a media person.)  Poor Romney had to drag his wife onto 60 Minutes last night for baring his forebear's soul and insisting on his ancestor's guilt.  Back in 1968 I was a ten-year-old politics junkie who read every word of every article in Newsweek and Time about the presidential primaries and chose a favorite in each party.  I backed Eugene McCarthy on the Democrat side and George Romney among the Republicans.  Never was it brought up that Romney was a Mormon.  He had more trouble from being born in Chihuahua, Mexico, where a technical constitutional issue arose; he was born a naturalized citizen but not on U.S. soil.  This was the issue, not religion (despite the fact his family moved to rural Mexico specifically to continue practicing polygamy).  Yep, back in '68 LSD was an issue, not LDS.     Read more
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Catching Mitt on TV:
The American Spectator - Arlington, Virginia
Originally published May 15, 2007

Apparently, in his 60 Minutes interview, Mitt Romney said the following: "I have a great-great grandfather.  They were trying to build a generation out there in the desert and so he took additional wives as he was told to do.  And I must admit, I can't image anything more awful than polygamy."  If this is true, then Romney is one of two things: an idiot, or a liar.  It's possible that he is both.  For a man who grew up in the Mormon Church to not understand a pivotal point of doctrine such as polygamy, is idiotic.  The Mormons did not practice polygamy to "build a generation out there in the desert."  The practice of polygamy was begun by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois, when Nauvoo was the largest city in Illinois, surpassing Chicago (which was a small trading post in the mid-nineteenth century).  It was not done because Mormons were dying by the truckloads.  The church was winning converts by the thousands.  Romney must sleep through Sunday school and Priesthood classes on the Sabbath day, or he would have known that it is church doctrine that polygamy will be practiced in the eternities, that God the Father is a polygamist, and that even Jesus is said to have been married to both Mary and Martha.  Call this disgusting if you will.  Call it incorrect, fabricated, blasphemous, sexist, or any other negative connotation you may, but this is something all Mormons who grow up in the church learn.  Do we really need another idiot in the White House?     Read more
A Good Laugh: - The Homepage of Agriculture
Originally published May 17, 2007

Jay Leno: "And Mitt Romney said last night, speaking about his Mormon religion, he said he can't imagine anything worse than polygamy. He said he can't imagine anything worse than having more than one wife, and then Bill Clinton gave the rebuttal."
Politics, media move Mormons into spotlight
By Mary Garrigan
The Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published May 19, 2007

After more than 150 years spent wandering in the hinterlands of America's religious landscape, Mormons are suddenly in the media spotlight.  A four-hour television documentary, "The Mormons," aired on PBS last month.  "September Dawn," a Hollywood feature film set amid a bloody massacre from Mormon history, hits movie theaters next month.     Read more
The darker side of Mormonism
Just as the Mormon Republican Mitt Romney emerges as a major contender for the US presidency, a blood-soaked new film and a high-profile trial are exposing the dark side of his religion. And suddenly, the biggest obstacle on his road to the White House is the faith he holds so dear.
Rupert Cornwell reports
The Independent - London, England
Originally published May 24, 2007

It was 11 September, a crystal-clear morning with the first hint of autumn crispness, as though a cynical, mocking God had set the stage for what would be the worst act of religiously inspired terrorism in US history.  But we are not talking about New York or Washington, DC in 2001.  The setting was the uplands of remote south-eastern Utah, exactly 150 years ago, in a corner of an American West that was still a violent work-in-progress.  Within minutes, some 140 pioneers - a wagon-train of men, women and children headed for California - lay dead in a massacre that would not be surpassed until the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995.  For decades, the Mountain Meadows Massacre has lain relatively undisturbed at the margins of the national consciousness.  But it is about to be projected centre-stage.  Next month, September Dawn, a new film by the writer and director Christopher Cain that purports to recount at last the true story of that dreadful day, is released in the US.  And America will be revisiting this most shameful act in the annals of the Mormon Church as, for the first time, a candidate from a faith still best known for its long-abandoned cult of polygamy has a serious shot at the Presidency.  Mitt Romney is not the first Mormon to have made a bid for the White House.  Mo Udall, a quixotic Arizona congressman, tried in 1976, and eight years earlier, a promising campaign by the former Michigan governor George Romney - Mitt's father - self-destructed when he let slip that he had been "brainwashed" by the military into supporting Vietnam.  Right now, however, Romney Jr would appear to have a better chance than either.     Read more
Romney's cross to bear
By Sally Denton
Los Angeles Times
Originally published June 10, 2007

MITT ROMNEY'S Mormonism threatens his presidential candidacy in the same way that John F. Kennedy's Catholicism did when he ran for president in 1960.  Overt and covert references to Romney's religion — subtle whispering as well as unabashed inquiries about the controversial sect he belongs to — plague his campaign.  None of his responses so far have silenced the skeptics.  Recent polls indicate that from 25% to 35% of registered voters have said they would not consider voting for a Mormon for president, and conventional wisdom from the pundits suggests that Romney's biggest hurdle is his faith.  Everyone seems eager to make his Mormonism an issue, from blue state secularists to red state evangelicals who view the religion as a non-Christian cult.  All of which raises the question: Are we religious bigots if we refuse to vote for a believing Mormon?  Or is it perfectly sensible and responsible to be suspicious of a candidate whose creed seems outside the mainstream or tinged with fanaticism?  Ironically, Romney is the only candidate in the race (from either party) who has expressed discomfort with the idea of religion infecting the national dialogue.  While his GOP rivals have been pandering to the evangelical arm of the party, Romney actually committed himself (during the first Republican debate) to the inviolable separation of church and state.  To understand Romney and the unique political obstacle his religion imposes, and to determine if the Mormon vision for America has relevance in a 21st century presidential campaign, one must explore the fundamentals of the religion — both where it's been and where it is today.  The Mormon Church — officially, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — is perceived as a fringe religion by many Americans, yet it is perhaps the most homegrown of American faiths.  Founded in 1830 in upstate New York by a charismatic farm boy named Joseph Smith Jr. — the sect's "prophet, seer and revelator" — the religion was not Judaic, Christian or even monotheistic, at least not in any traditional sense.     Read more
Romney's Run Has Mormons Wary of Scrutiny
By Laurie Goodstein
New York Times
Originally published June 11, 2007

LOGAN, Utah — In this wide valley where the twin spires of the Mormon temple dominate the landscape and some neighborhoods have a Mormon chapel every few blocks, Mitt Romney's bid for president is both a proud sign of progress and a cause of trepidation.  Many Mormons here are rooting for Mr. Romney, a fellow church member whose success in business, Adonis looks and wholesome family tableau seem to them to present the ideal face of Mormonism to the world.  Among the Republican front-runners, Mr. Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, recently was the leader in campaign fund-raising; his candidacy is, for many Mormons, a historic moment of arrival.  "He represents the best of what the church can produce," said Kenneth W. Godfrey, 73, a historian of Mormonism and of this valley about 80 miles north of church headquarters in Salt Lake City.  But even for the many Mormons who support Mr. Romney, the moment is fraught with anxiety because his candidacy is bringing intense scrutiny to their church, and could exacerbate longstanding bigotry.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon Church is called, has been fighting for legitimacy since its founding 177 years ago in upstate New York.  The church's first prophet, Joseph Smith Jr., was killed by a mob in Illinois and his followers fled from persecution and settled in Utah.  While Mormons are by now successfully integrated and prospering in the American mix, memories of that persecution are still fresh.  Many current members can trace their great-great-grandparents to the church's earliest pioneers, and children grow up reading their ancestors' original diaries.  Many Mormons fear that Mr. Romney's campaign may reopen old wounds.     Read more
NY Times: Is Romney distancing himself from Mormonism?
By Chris Vanocur
Originally broadcast June 11, 2007

Is Mitt Romney trying to distance himself from his LDS faith?  This is the question being raised by one of America's most respected newspapers.  In a story being talked about from coast to coast, a New York Times reporter wrote about something interesting happening in Logan.  Some there are apparently growing concerned about Romney and what he's saying about his LDS faith.  On 60 Minutes, Romney distanced himself from his polygamist ancestors with a comment that isn't sitting well with some Utah Mormons.  One Logan talk show host said, "That's a tough thing for people to hear when their ancestors sacrificed a lot to live that life.  They probably wouldn't bring polygamy back, but they honor the place of it in church history."  The other Romney quote that has left some Mormons scratching their heads is when Romney said Jesus would return to the Middle East and not Missouri.  Now, as for Romney's campaign, it had no comment on the New York Times article.
Romney is not a missionary
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, June 15, 2007

The media would love to discredit Mitt Romney for "preaching" LDS beliefs. That is not his purpose. He is not a missionary. He is a candidate for president of the United States.

I am a docent for the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City. All docents have been specifically told we are not proselyting missionaries. We are to refer visitors who have doctrinal questions to the full-time missionaries across the street, on Temple Square.

As for Romney's statement on polygamy, I remember when I was first made aware of the LDS Church's history of plural marriage. I was horrified. I still am. Most members I know feel the same way. I'm glad we are not asked to practice plural marriage in this generation.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we know we are Christians and Jesus Christ is our Savior. That is what is important for all to understand. Let the LDS missionaries answer doctrinal questions. And let Romney run for the presidency.

Joyce Morgan
Polygamy got me here
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, June 16, 2007

I would like to say I am not part of the majority of members that Joyce Morgan (Readers' Forum, June 15) says are "horrified" by the church's history of plural marriage.  While I am horrified by the abuses that some people have made of polygamy, I am proud of my polygamous ancestors who stood up against impossible odds in defense of their beliefs.  I also admire Wilford Woodruff for reversing the entire direction of the church when the Lord said that the time for polygamy had ended.  Like Joyce Morgan, I'm glad I'm not asked to practice plural marriage, but I am in no way ashamed of it.  After all, I wouldn't be here if not for my polygamous ancestors.

Brian Craig Rushton
South Jordan
Mitt's recent double speak presidential
By Lee Benson
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, June 17, 2007

Running for president is hard enough, but in between the usual questions about the economy, the quagmire in Iraq and why your opponent isn't as worthy as you are, Mitt "A Mormon for President" Romney gets comments like the one ABC's George Stephanopoulos threw at him the other day:  "In your faith, if I understand it correctly, it teaches that Jesus will return probably to the United States and reign on earth for 1,000 years."  With verbal acuity equivalent to Lebron James doing his best to avoid a double-team, Romney quickly responded: "That doesn't happen to be a doctrine of my church.  Our belief is just as it says in the Bible, that the messiah will come to Jerusalem, stand on the Mount of Olives and that the Mount of Olives will be the place for the great gathering and so forth.  It's the same as the other Christian traditions."   The answer succeeded in doing two things at once: (1) It salvaged several million evangelical Christian votes from going down the drain then and there, and (2) It caused more than a few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the kind who did not fall asleep in seminary class — to scratch their heads as if to say, "What the flip?"  This is because the 10th Article of Faith, recognized as scripture by the LDS Church, states specifically " ... that Zion (the new Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth ... "  On close inspection, it appears Romney was just employing a good bit of double speak — and what could be more presidential? — when he answered that LDS Second Coming doctrine corresponds with other Christian tradition.     Read more
Mitt's LDS roots run deep
Centered in faith, a family emerges
By Michael Kranish and Michael Paulson
The Boston Globe
Originally published June 25, 2007

NANTES, France — Elder Romney didn't even have time to put on his shoes.  The 19-year-old missionary was in his apartment when a woman burst in to say some Frenchmen were beating up one of his fellow Mormons down the street.  The barefoot Mitt Romney, who had been in France for just six months, joined his roommates in rushing into the snowy night.  They found a team of rugby players, drowning their sorrows after a lost match, hassling two female missionaries.  The women had cried out "Allez-y!" which means "go on," rather than "Allez-vous en," meaning "go away."  The male missionary who leapt to their defense had been punched out.  Romney ended up with a badly bruised jaw.  "There were about 20 guys, very large and very muscular, and we were a group of very young and very small American guys," Romney would recall 40 years later.  "If you get into a fight with Muhammad Ali, you don't return the punch, you just put your arms up."  In a lifetime of good fortune, the January 1967 rumble in Nantes stands out as a rare moment of defeat.  But as a snapshot of his 30 months as an LDS missionary, it is less exceptional: His time in France posed one of the great challenges of his life.  It was marked by frustration and, ultimately, tragedy.  The victories were visible only in hindsight.  Day after day, he knocked on doors urging people, most of them Catholic but many of them hostile to religion and often to the United States as well, to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Mormonism was a religion of mystery to most French people, recognized mostly for its history of polygamy and, in a country that takes its wine seriously, for its prohibition against alcohol.     Read more
Will A President Romney Expose Illegal 'Mormon' Polygamy?
By J. Grant Swank, Jr.
The Post Chronicle - Denville, New Jersey
Originally published July 3, 2007

Right now there are illegal polygamy settlements in America that claim ties to Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon).  If Mormon Mitt Romney becomes US President, will he see that these colonies are shut down?  This is not a theological matter such as Mormons not accepting the full divinity of Christ.  This is not a religious debate over whether or not to accept the Book of Mormon as 'holy writ.'  This is a legal issue which involves mistreatment of youth, male as well as female.  It focuses on child abuse.  It is a cultic mindset that warps young people via mind control in the name of "legitimate religion."  Per Reuters' Jason Szep, Arizona is one of those locales where such macabre goings-on take place, all masked as a clean, wholesome community of God-fearing adults and offspring.  In fact, it is just the opposite. Will Romney expose such unseemliness in order to clean it out in our Republic?     Read more
B.C. polygamists won't be charged with sexual assault
By Elaine O'Connor
The Vancouver Province
Originally published Wednesday, August 1, 2007

VANCOUVER — No charges of sexual assault will be recommended against Bountiful's polygamist sect, following a review of allegations of sexual abuse by a special prosecutor.  But Attorney General Wally Oppal may now decide to let the courts rule on the constitutionality of the law against polygamy, in the wake of lawyer Richard Peck's review.  Oppal asked Peck to review the file over concerns that charges of sexual abuse might fail a constitutional challenge by infringing on the Charter right to religious freedom.  Peck suggested the government seek clarification on the issue with a reference question to the courts.  "We are in the process now of examining Mr. Peck's opinion and we hope to have a final decision rendered shortly," Oppal said Wednesday.  It's a difficult decision.  If the law prohibiting polygamy were struck down, it could open the doors for a variety of other offences committed in the name of religion.  Oppal does not believe Canadians would stand for that.  "There have been some opinions rendered by a number of people that the freedom of religion would trump any sections in the Criminal Code.  I personally disagree with that," Oppal said.     Read more
Campbell defends Liberals' polygamy measures
By Ian Bailey
The Globe and Mail - Toronto, Ontario
Originally published August 3, 2007

VANCOUVER -- Premier Gordon Campbell says his government is taking a measured approach to dealing with allegations of sexual abuse among polygamists in the community of Bountiful by ruling out criminal charges and considering a move to test Canada's anti-polygamy law in the courts.  "No one is letting it slide," the Premier said yesterday, backing up B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal.  Mr. Oppal is considering a special prosecutor's proposal to seek a reference on the constitutionality of the law first from the B.C. Court of Appeal and then the Supreme Court of Canada.  "What we're trying to do is make sure we act both appropriately and we act within the law," Mr. Campbell told reporters after an event unrelated to the polygamy controversy.  Mr. Campbell said of the court option that "a reference is the only route we can go that is likely to have any kind of success.  It may take some time."  Mr. Oppal has yet to commit to going to court, suggesting instead that he is considering the special prosecutor's proposal.  The special prosecutor had recommended the idea after studying the issue and concluding there was not "a substantial likelihood of conviction" if charges were laid over Bountiful.     Read more
Wives and Republicans
Observations on polygamy
By Joe Treasure
New Statesman Magazine - London
Originally published September 20, 2007

It need hardly be said that, in its judgement of the 17 presidential candidates, America is deeply divided.  But if there's one thing that unites the Christian right with the liberal left it's discomfort over Mitt Romney's membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Mormon faith is a degree more alienating for secular Democrats even than Bush's Protestantism.  And it could be a deal-breaker for the evangelical wing of the Republican Party.  To begin with there's the Book of Mormon.  Written, apparently, by fifth-century American-Indians and translated in the 1820s by Joseph Smith, this "third testament" reads like a pastiche of the King James Bible, combining Jacobean English with Hebrew verse rhythms.  The original is not available for study, Smith having returned it to its hiding place on the instructions of an angel.  Weirder than Smith's book is his enthusiasm for polygamy.  For more than a century, the Church of Latter-day Saints has distanced itself from this practice, a criminal offence in Utah, as it is under federal law.  But traditionalist Mormons in the backwoods refuse to let the practice die and, like disreputable relatives, continue to besmirch the family name.  In a widely reported case, Warren Jeffs, leader of a fundamentalist Mormon community, is currently being tried on charges that, in arranging a marriage involving a minor, he was an accomplice to rape.  In practice, polygamy is tolerated in Utah.  It's the unambiguous issue of statutory rape that has got Jeffs into trouble.     Read more
Mormon Cultist Warren Jeffs vs. Mitt Romney: Sex Sells! (But Anti-Black Hatred Stays Unmentioned)
By Jackson Williams
The Huffington Post - New York, NY
Originally published September 27, 2007

OK, Warren Jeffs has been convicted of being an accomplice to rape. As the modern leader and Prophet of the largest offshoot Mormon polygamist sect in America (the "Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," founded in the 1930s), he forced a 14 year old girl to marry one of his adult male followers against her will. He's done it before.

All the news coverage about him, however, concerns sex, sex, sex. It's always about the polygamy. Yes, forcing an underage girl to marry is illegal, as it should be. Yes, she's a victim, as are any who've suffered the same fate.

But the guy spent years on the FBI's Most Wanted list, yet no major media outlet has spent much time (if any) exploring his history of preaching about race and how black people are evil, and how these views have long been part of mainstream Mormon orthodoxy.

Sex sells, and thus the only thing CNN covers, the only thing the general public knows, is the salacious stuff. There is so much more.

In dusty West Texas, just outside the small town of Eldorado, the followers of the Jeffs group (estimated at 10,000) have built a large compound on 2,000 guarded acres they bought a few years ago. Think David Koresh and the Branch Davidians on steroids. Unlike the town of Colorado City, Arizona, where the group has been for generations, their Eldorado outpost doesn't have 90 years of inhabiting the citizen gene pool and the elected officials, police and media. Blessedly, the local newspaper, The Eldorado Success, has the independence to post audio clips of his racist rants.
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Democratic lawmaker ready to try again with polygamy-custody bill
By Stephanie Sanchez
Cronkite News Service
The Arizona Republic
Originally published October 29, 2007

Rebuffed last session, a Democratic lawmaker said he's ready to reintroduce a reworked version of a bill intended to help women leave polygamist husbands.  Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, wants to require courts to grant sole custody to women and prevent unsupervised parenting time when a father is a married adult who has married or cohabitated with a minor, a practice known as child bigamy.  "There needs to be justice for these children," said Lujan, who also is an attorney for a children's justice organization.  Lujan said he is optimistic the bill will pass during the next legislative session because he has narrowed its focus in response to concerns that stalled the previous version in the House Judiciary Committee.  The previous version dealt with fathers found to have engaged in polygamy, child bigamy or both.  Lujan said he is narrowing the new version to deal only with child bigamy, which is a felony under Arizona law.  Lujan said there has been an increase in women wanting to leave plural marriages.  He said Arizona law needs to support them.  "This issue is as great as ever, with particularly the conviction of Warren Jeffs," Lujan said, referring to the recent trial of the polygamist leader.     Read more
Stiffed Utahn seeks Senate help
Hildale man wants payment for work at Grand Canyon
By Suzanne Struglinski
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, November 13, 2007

WASHINGTON — Hildale resident Ron Steed asked the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee late last week to consider paying his company and other southern Utah businesses for work they completed on the Grand Canyon four years ago.   Steed, of R&W Excavating, is waiting for about $330,000 for the work the company completed based on an agreement with California-based Pacific General Inc., known as PGI.  The government had a contract with PGI to do several projects on the rim of Grand Canyon National Park, and it in turn hired several other companies, or subcontractors, to help complete the work, which is not an uncommon practice in working on federal projects.  But Steed told the committee that PGI was slow to make the initial payments and then it stopped all together.  About $1.4 million in total is still owed to companies that worked with PGI on various programs on the park.  Under a federal law known as the Miller Act, main contractors have to post payment and performance bonds when a contract exceeds $100,000 for the "construction, alteration or repair of any building or public work of the United States."  Steed asked how PGI was able "to obtain so much work with (the National Park Service) without providing bonds?"  If PGI had a bond, the subcontractors could have made a claim against the bond, but as Steed emphasized several times, they now have no recourse to get their money, which is why he wants to see a pending bill go through.  Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., introduced a bill in February that would require the National Park Service to pay the subcontractors for the work they completed.  The bill passed the House in April and now just needs to be approved by the Senate.  Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, along with Arizona Republicans Sen. Jon Kyl and Sen. Jon McCain, wrote to Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and top Republican Pete Domenici, also of New Mexico, in July to encourage that Renzi's bill have a hearing in the Senate.     Read more
At last — Mitt tackles top LDS issues
By Doug Robinson
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Good morning, everyone.  I'm Brother — I mean, Mitt — Romney, and I'm running for president.  As you might know, for months people have been pressuring me to discuss my Mormon faith the same way my twin, John Kennedy, discussed his Catholicism before he was called to be president.  Somehow my religion has become the issue of my campaign.  One Washington Post poll showed that people would vote for a woman and a black but not a Mormon.  So Gladys Knight just missed.  Ba-da-boom.

A Harvard professor called me the "most qualified" of all the candidates — have I mentioned in the last five minutes that I saved the Salt Lake Olympics? — but noted that my faith could prevent me from moving into the Oval Office.  So I have called this press conference to address this issue.  I am thankful for this opportunity, and I know that I'll get more out of this than you will.  I'll take questions now.

No. 1. Why is this press conference starting 10 minutes late?
It was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. MST — Mormon Standard Time. MST is about 10 minutes later than the rest of the world. Most BYU football fans, for instance, have never heard "The Star Spangled Banner."
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A Mormon president? New film shows links between Smith, Romney
By Carrie A. Moore
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, November 24, 2007

Providing a balanced portrayal of either LDS Church founder Joseph Smith or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has proven daunting for even the most experienced historians, political scientists and journalists.  But keeping that balance while intermingling the stories of how both Mormon men became candidates for president of the United States isn't something anyone has accomplished yet — let alone in only 60 minutes on film.  Yet that's exactly what a young filmmaker said he has attempted in a new documentary, "A Mormon President," scheduled to premiere in Salt Lake City next month.  Adam Christing, the film's producer and director, told the Deseret Morning News that skeptics who may like Romney's politics but can't get past his faith will find a broader understanding of what makes him tick, while supporters also may learn facts about Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that could present challenges.  In fact, the film is much more about Smith than it is about Romney, he said, but uses the presidential quest as a common link.  "Very few people realize that Romney is not the first Mormon to run for the White House," said Christing, a comedian popular in Christian circles who studied theology at Biola University in Los Angeles and has made only one other documentary film.  Raised as a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now known as the Community of Christ), Christing is a member of the Mormon History Association and cited his "total passion for the subject" as his biggest qualification to make the film.     Read more
Some local Mormons see Romney's bid as a way to tell the nation about their religion
By Anna Scott
Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Sarasota, Florida
Originally published November 24, 2007

In the next presidential election Gene Strattmann will do something he has never done before: vote Republican.  Strattmann, 59, of Sarasota, is a Mormon and, for just a short time longer, a diehard Democrat.  This year, his man is Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.  Not only will Romney bring to the White House the "clean living" the Mormons embrace, Strattmann said, but as the nation's first Mormon president he has the potential to pull the little understood religion to a new place -- one of widespread acceptance.  "If Mitt Romney wins, he might be a catalyst and make everyone finally believe we're not a weird cult," said Strattmann, who converted a few years ago when Mormonism missionaries came to his door.  Romney's candidacy has emboldened many members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, instilling hope that he will play a role similar to John F. Kennedy, who convinced the nation to vote for a Catholic in 1960 despite fears that he would be controlled by church leadership.  The co-chairman of the Romney campaign in Sarasota is a member of the local Mormon church, and members have eagerly signed up to volunteer at phone banks or campaign door to door.  "There's a certain amount of romantic attraction to the opportunity to have a member of the church accepted by the American public when the church has been so misunderstood for such a long period of time," said Darren Dixon, the Mormon co-chair of Romney's Sarasota campaign.     Read more
Romney's quandary
The World Next Week
Oxford Analytica - Oxford, England
December 1-7, 2007 Issue

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney faces a major strategic dilemma this week, when he decides whether to publicly address the issue of his Mormon faith.

With the Iowa caucuses drawing near, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is threatening to overcome Romney's perceived financial and polling advantages there. A key bloc of Republican voters Romney is courting -- conservative evangelicals -- are very wary of his Mormon beliefs. He faces an uphill battle to assuage their fears.

Pride and prejudice

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), as the Mormons call their institution, is one of the most rapidly expanding Christian sects in the world. There are nearly three million self-identified members of the Church in the United States and close to 13 million members globally. Church teachings emphasise traditional gender and family roles, which has helped promote a rapid expansion overseas.
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Theology and doctrine the root of evangelical-Mormon divide
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
Boston Globe
Originally published December 5, 2007

SALT LAKE CITY — Polygamy, missionaries on bicycles and the Osmonds.  What most people know or think they know about Mormons might be summed up in those few words.  The renowned Tabernacle Choir and, perhaps, quarterback Steve Young could also fit on that list.  Despite 177 years of history, much about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the church of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney -- remains a mystery to most.  Questions about his faith, which some mainline religious groups discount as a non-Christian cult, have dogged Romney throughout his campaign, and on Thursday he'll tackle the issue at the George H.W. Bush Library on the campus of Texas A&M University.  Romney isn't expected to focus on the details of Mormonism, but it's in those details that evangelicals and other Christians sometimes break with Latter-day Saints.  The fundamental issue: the nature of God.  "Christians and Jews have always held that there is a great gap between creator and creature. God is God and we're not," said Richard Mouw, head of the Pasadena, Calif., Fuller Theological Seminary.  "Mormons believe that God and humans are of the same species. In our eyes they have tried to bridge that gap in ways that really is a fundamental violation."  Mormons also disavow belief in the Trinity -- that the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one -- instead believing the three to be individuals united in a single purpose.     Read more
Romney speech stirs Arizona talk of Mormon bias
By Dennis Welch
East Valley Tribune - Phoenix
Originally published December 8, 2007

When Matt Salmon ran for governor five years ago, he recalls talking to Republican voters who liked his politics but refused to vote for him because he was Mormon.  One woman, he says, even told him he belonged to that "devil church."   Salmon, who is a Republican, said that was a telling example of the anti-Mormon streak that exists in Arizona and across the county that could keep Mitt Romney from winning the GOP's nomination for president this year.  Although Salmon stopped short of saying his faith cost him the 2002 gubernatorial race, he said Romney's membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could certainly work against him in Arizona as voters go the polls next year.  His opinion contradicts those of numerous high-ranking elected officials and political strategists who believe being Mormon is hardly the political liability here as it is back East.  "There are certain districts in the state, like Mesa, where it's a non-issue," Salmon said Friday afternoon.  "But it certainly did play when I ran. Many people have told me that it cost me the election, and I think there's some merit to that."  During the 2002 Arizona gubernatorial race, Salmon's opponents made a concerted effort to remind the public of his religious ties.  One tactic involved attaching plaques to his campaign signs that read "Vote Mormon."  In fact, Dick Mahoney, who ran as an independent, aired a political advertisement about the events then unfolding in Colorado City with polygamist Warren Jeffs.  Although it wasn't a direct attack on his Republican opponent, Salmon said it was yet another effort to show Mormonism in a bad light and thereby sink his candidacy.     Read more
Lose the Polygamy Card
Salt Lake City Weekly
Originally published January 10, 2008

Who can deny that a candidate's religion is a major political issue? It is a shallow issue to be sure but, in the case of Mitt Romney's campaign, the issue is a huge obstacle.

Rather than giving Romney credit as a leader who cleans up messes, upgrades massive organizations, and provides the spark to lead the country forward in a positive direction, a large bloc of voters take issue with Romney's LDS religion, and thus, the polygamy stigma attached.

Despite the separation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from its polygamous roots, the populace still views it as entangled, and therefore compromised. The LDS Church has spent time and effort to clean up this issue, largely to no avail, and the connection persists. Perhaps Mormon leaders should fund a foundation to provide refuge, education and counseling to escapees of polygamist communities? A sizeable proposition, indeed — but worthy!

Furthermore, spend millions upon millions of dollars in a national campaign to promote this foundation and rid the tarnished connection of polygamy from the LDS faith once and for all. If the polygamy card is not entirely removed from the LDS deck, then it will remain a national concern, and will prevent able Mormon leaders such as Mitt Romney to compete politically on a national level.

Darrell Catmull
Bill against child bigamy puts focus on polygamy in Arizona
By Daniel J. Quigley
Cronkite News Service
The Arizona Republic
Originally published January 31, 2008

Arizona has become a haven for sects that practice polygamy and child bigamy because it lacks the laws needed to protect victims, an activist who left a polygamous marriage told state lawmakers Thursday.  "We're destroying generation after generation of children by allowing this molestation of children to continue," said Flora Jessop, executive director of the Child Protection Project, a group that helps those who leave polygamists.  Jessop testified before the House Committee on Human Services, which then endorsed a bill that would prevent judges from granting child custody or unsupervised parenting time to those involved in child bigamy.  Under Arizona law, child bigamy includes married adults taking minors as spouses and adults causing minors to marry adults who already have spouses.  HB 2009, introduced by Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, would bar judges from awarding custody to a parent who engages in child bigamy unless a judge states in writing why that action poses no threat to the child.  "What we're seeing is when women get the courage to leave these polygamist communities the first thing they do is go to the courts and try to get custody," Lujan said.  "And the courts time and time again are giving custody to the fathers, who continue to engage in forcing underage children to marry."     Read more
Bill designed to help victims of child bigamy
By Daniel J. Quigley
Cronkite News Service
Tucson Citizen
Originally published February 5, 2008

PHOENIX - Arizona has become a haven for sects that practice polygamy and child bigamy because it lacks the laws needed to protect victims, an activist who left a polygamous marriage told state lawmakers Thursday.  "We're destroying generation after generation of children by allowing this molestation of children to continue," said Flora Jessop, executive director of the Child Protection Project, a group that helps those who leave polygamists.  Jessop testified before the House Committee on Human Services, which then endorsed a bill that would prevent judges from granting child custody or unsupervised parenting time to those involved in child bigamy.  Under Arizona law, child bigamy includes married adults taking minors as spouses and adults causing minors to marry adults who already have spouses.  The bill, HB 2009, introduced by Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, would bar judges from awarding custody to a parent who engages in child bigamy unless a judge states in writing why that action poses no threat to the child.  "What we're seeing is when women get the courage to leave these polygamist communities the first thing they do is go to the courts and try to get custody," Lujan said.  "And the courts time and time again are giving custody to the fathers, who continue to engage in forcing underage children to marry."     Read more
How Mormons Saw Romney
In wooing evangelicals, he made some fellow LDS members uneasy.
By Sally Atkinson
Originally published February 8, 2008

In his pursuit of the presidency, Mitt Romney held fast to his Mormon faith, though his religion remains controversial with evangelicals and some other Christians. But his determined (and ultimately futile) wooing of evangelicals led him to make some statements that didn't quite square with Mormon beliefs and culture. And the effort itself may have deepened the impression of him as inauthentic--even to some fellow Mormons.

Early in his presidential bid, Romney was asked what he thought of polygamy. Prompted by what they considered a divine revelation, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discontinued the practice more than a century ago, and the church distances itself from polygamist "fundamentalists." But Romney went one step further, saying he couldn't "imagine anything more awful than polygamy." Many Mormons were privately taken aback. Mormons believe that, in its time, "plural marriage" was a commandment from God, and they are, as a group, fiercely proud of their ancestors, hundreds of whom practiced polygamy. (Romney's own great-grandfather had five wives.) LDS church members loathe the polygamy stereotypes and jokes bandied by outsiders. But hearing Romney--the most recognizable face of their faith these days--disavow it in those terms was mildly unsettling to LDS insiders.
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Romney's run imparts valuable lessons
By Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mitt Romney is out. With his close ties to Utah, it's worth examining the impact of his historic campaign.

Did Romney's presidential efforts improve the image of LDS Americans?

Pignanelli:  Mixed bag. He diverted the national attention on Mormons, which had been focused on all things polygamous, including Warren Jeffs and the HBO television series "Big Love." Also, through Romney, many Americans were introduced to a famous Mormon who is a successful, attractive businessman who enjoys a good family life. Now the down side: It has been my experience that even the most soft-spoken LDS adherents will defend their faith with zeal when challenged.

Romney's dodging and weaving on various church doctrines is not an accurate reflection of his fellow Mormon brothers and sisters. Although I have megabytes of e-mails from readers offering flimsy excuses for his stumbling, there is no reason a man of his intelligence and experience could not provide satisfactory answers to inquiries. His public discomfort led to unease with voters curious about his faith and positions.     Read more
FLDS Parents Could Face Charges for Abandoning their "Lost Boys"
By Elizabeth Ziegler
KCPW Public Radio - Salt Lake City
Originally broadcast February 14, 2008

(KCPW News) They're called the "Lost Boys," the teenagers kicked out of their homes and communities by leaders of the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to ensure there's an ample supply of single, young women who will one day become plural wives.  Representative Lorie Fowlke (R-Orem), is running a bill to make this abandonment a felony.  "Estimates are that we've had more than 1,000 children - primarily in southern Utah - thrown out of their homes," Fowlke says.  "What we were trying to do with this bill is criminalize this behavior and send a message to this community that they can't just throw away their children."  H.B. 23 adds child abandonment to the definition of child abuse, and makes it a felony crime.  It also adds an enhancement if a parent or organization benefits from the child's abandonment to further an illegal enterprise, such as polygamy.  This is the case with the FLDS church, says Roger Hoole, a lawyer who represents some of the displaced young men and sits on the board for the Utah Association for Justice.  He says the church benefits from kicking out young men who would compete for plural wives.  This, he says, has devastating consequences.     Read more
Mom's case revisits child-bigamy issue
By Amanda J. Crawford
The Arizona Republic
Originally published February 24, 2008

When Sarine Jessop left her husband, he had already taken a second wife and was pursuing teenage girls to bring into the marriage, too, she said.  Now, Jessop is fighting for custody of her eight children in a courtroom where she doesn't think her concerns about her ex-husband's polygamous lifestyle or his belief in underage marriages for himself or his daughters are being considered at all.  Rep. David Lujan, a Phoenix Democrat who is helping Jessop in her case, wants to change that.  He has introduced a bill that would bar judges from awarding custody to a parent who practices child bigamy, a polygamous relationship involving someone underage.  The measure is inspired by the plight of women fleeing Warren Jeffs' fundamentalist sect in Colorado City, which has come under scrutiny for the spiritual marriages of underage girls to older men.  Lujan said the bill is designed to address the women's biggest fear: that they will have to leave their children behind.  But the bill raises questions of religious freedom and what standards courts should look at when determining custody of children.  It has passed the House Human Services committee unanimously for two years in a row, but has been blocked from proceeding by Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Mesa, who has refused to hear it in his judiciary committee.     Read more
Put children first
The Arizona Republic
Originally published February 29, 2008

Don't think it's over just because polygamous cult leader Warren Jeffs is back in Arizona to face trial for forcing little girls into plural marriages.  Yes, justice has him in handcuffs.  After his conviction in Utah on similar charges, Jeffs faces prison time there, and he may be sentenced to more time behind bars if he's convicted of crimes committed in Arizona.  Jeffs is answering for a repressive regime that he tried to pass off as a religion in Colorado City as well as Hildale, Utah.  The reckoning was overdue.  But Jeffs' communities aren't the only places where polygamous sects force underage girls into "celestial" plural marriages, according to Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, who serves as an attorney for the non-profit Defenders of Children, which helps women who flee polygamous groups.  Flora Jessop, who ran from a polygamous marriage years ago, told the state House Human Services Committee last month that our state has become a haven for polygamous sects because it lacks adequate protections for victims.  The committee voted overwhelmingly for a bill that Lujan is sponsoring to enhance protections.     Read more
Race begins early for Supervisors candidates
By Suzanne Adams
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published March 6, 2008

The race for Supervisor District I has started already.  The Kingman Republican Women's Club invited all three republican candidates for the position to speak at its dinner Tuesday.  Candidate Jerry Sides touted his more than 20 years of experience as an employee of the County's Facilities Management Department.  As an employee, he has worked with numerous departments in the county and attended some Board of Supervisors meetings, he said.  Because of this, he would have a smaller learning curve as a supervisor, he said.  "I'll be able to dig in and accomplish the work that is necessary to run Mohave County efficiently," he said. "We need someone with good common sense."  Sides said his main concerns as a supervisor would be managing growth and water, cutting wasteful spending by the county and increasing communication between the county department and between the county and the public.  The county is going to continue to grow, he said.  The county needs to make wise decisions on growth, not knee jerk reactions.  The county also needs to consider the amount and availability of water as it grows, he said.  "We have to be good stewards [of water] for our children and their children. We don't want to find ourselves in the situation like Phoenix or Los Angeles where they're constantly scrambling for a good water source.  The use of money by the county was also a concern of Sides.     Read more
Lawmakers cracking down on 'Lost Boys' issue
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, March 6, 2008

State lawmakers have passed a bill that appears to crack down on child abandonment in the fundamentalist communities of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz.  It appears aimed at the phenomenon of the so-called "Lost Boys" — teens who have been ousted from the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  HB23, sponsored by Rep. Lorie Fowlke, R-Orem, makes child abandonment a form of child abuse, and makes it a third-degree felony for anyone or any enterprise to encourage child abandonment.  "We're really focused on the organizations who force these parents to throw away their children in order to be able to to continue to remain part of the community," Fowlke told the Deseret Morning News on Thursday.  Fowlke said she ran the bill at the request of an attorney representing some of the "Lost Boys" who are suing the FLDS Church and its leader, Warren Jeffs.  She also consulted with the Utah Attorney General's Office, basing part of the bill on racketeering statutes.  "The bill is aimed at trying to find a way for prosecutors to go after those organizations," Fowlke said.  Advocates say there are hundreds of teens who have either run away or been kicked out of the polygamous sect for a host of "sins," such as watching movies, kissing someone or wearing shirtsleeves too short.  Some left on their own, rather than live by the church's strict codes of conduct.  Advocates say some have wound up living on the streets or crashing with friends and relatives in cramped apartments, while others have gotten in trouble with the law or wound up on drugs.  Fowlke co-sponsored legislation last year allowing teens to seek emancipation from the courts in relation to the problem.     Read more
Book excerpt from Daphne Bramham's The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada's Polygamous Mormon Sect
By Marni Soupcoff
National Post - Toronto, Ontario
Originally published March 20, 2008

The following is an excerpt from The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada's Polygamous Mormon Sect by Daphne Bramham.

In November 2001, a month after the United States, Canada and a coalition of other countries attacked Afghanistan in search of Osama bin Laden, President George W. Bush talked about the kind of life women and children were leading under the tyranny of the Taliban.  Women are imprisoned in their homes, and are denied access to basic health care and education.  Food sent to help starving people is stolen by their leaders. The religious monuments of other faiths are destroyed. Children are forbidden to fly kites, or sing songs," he said.  "A girl of seven is beaten for wearing white shoes."  A few weeks later, Laura Bush filled in for her husband on his weekly radio spot.  "All of us have an obligation to speak out," she said.  "We may come from different backgrounds and faiths — but parents the world over love our children. We respect our mothers, our sisters and daughters. Fighting brutality against women and children is not the expression of a specific culture; it is the acceptance of our common humanity."  The Bushes were referring to the Taliban in Afghanistan, but they might well have been talking about women and children in the United States and Canada living under the tyranny of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), the largest polygamous sect in North America.     Read more
Stalled in House, bill on child bigamy gets second chance in Senate
By Daniel J. Quigley
Cronkite News Service
The Arizona Republic
Originally published March 27, 2008

Stalled legislation that would bar courts from granting custody to parents engaged in child bigamy got a second chance Thursday when a Senate committee approved attaching it to another bill.  Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, is pushing for the change, saying it would help women leaving polygamist sects because those women often have few resources, which can compel courts to give full or shared custody to fathers who practice child bigamy.  Under Arizona law, child bigamy includes married adults taking minors as spouses or causing minors to marry adults who already have spouses.  Lujan's original bill, HB 2009, would bar courts from awarding custody or unsupervised parenting time to a parent who engages in child bigamy unless a judge states in writing that there is no significant risk to the child.  That bill won unanimous approval from the House Committee on Human Services but stalled when the Judiciary Committee declined to hear it.  On Thursday, the Senate Public Safety and Human Services Committee approved adding the language of Lujan's bill to HB 2275 sponsored by Rep. Pete Hershberger, R-Tucson.  Hershberger's bill would limit evidence courts can use to grant temporary orders of child support, custody or parenting time to a paternity test or admission of paternity.  The committee's move sends the measure to the full Senate and then, if it passes, back to the full House.     Read more
Texas raid has Hildale residents 'wound up'
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, April 10, 2008

ST. GEORGE — Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith says he met personally with Hildale Mayor David Zitting to reassure him that "we don't anticipate anything happening here" that is connected to or reflects the events occurring in Texas.   "It is pretty much business as usual. We aren't aware of anything in Hildale that needs our attention," said Smith.   He added: "I'm being kept up to date with events in Texas, and they (Texas authorities) haven't asked us for any special assistance from here."  Residents of neighboring Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., which are polygamist enclaves, are "wound up pretty tight" and are "nervous" over the actions taken by law enforcement and child welfare officials at the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, Smith said.  The YFZ Ranch, raided last week by officials in Texas, is owned by the Fundamentalist LDS Church, which was headed by Warren Jeffs, 52.  Jeffs was convicted last year of rape in Utah as an accomplice for performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.  He was sentenced in November to serve two terms of 15 years to life in prison.  He is currently being held in Kingman, Ariz., for trial in a similar case.  "But I've told them, we can't live like we're in 1953 anymore. Sometime, somebody has to begin trusting someone," the sheriff said, referring to the 1953 Arizona-led raid on the two polygamous towns, then known as Short Creek, that broke hundreds of families apart.     Read more
Twin cities face power rate hike
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published April 16, 2008

HILDALE - Twin City Power users may be looking at a substantial rate increase in electric rates as wholesale prices for summer power climb.  Residential customers in Hildale and Colorado City now pay 11.2 cents per kilowatt hour, the highest power rate in the area.  Power department superintendent Lorin Fischer said the wholesale rates may be up to 12.5 cents a kilowatt hour this summer.  "The fuel crunch is felt by every sector," Fischer told the Hildale City Council during its regular meeting Tuesday morning.  "We may be looking at raising power rates as high as 15 cents (per kilowatt hour).  If the prices of electricity go up to 15 cents for Twin City Power customers, it will be a 34 percent rate increase.  Hurricane Power customers pay between 7 and 9 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on the usage.  Mayor David Zitting said the power company has about 700 hookups and although the number of those in arrears has gone down, the percentage is still high.  Fischer also told the council that the cause of power outages over the years was recently determined.  Twin City Power and Hurricane Power had lines near each other and in high winds, the Hurricane line would swing like a jump rope and hit the Twin City line, causing an outage.  Fischer said that should have been noticed by engineers when the line was installed but said the problem has been corrected.     Read more
Shurtleff eager to educate Reid on polygamy battle
By Suzanne Struglinski
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, April 30, 2008

WASHINGTON — Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff wants to "educate" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on what the state has done to fight polygamy after the Nevada Democrat said Utah and Arizona are turning "a blind eye" to the issue.  Reid, a Nevada Democrat, is pushing for the federal government to take a closer look at polygamy in light of the raid at a Fundamentalist LDS Church's compound in Eldorado, Texas.  In a radio interview Monday, Reid based his push on what he claims is Utah's lack of enforcement on the group, which angered Shurtleff.  "The state of Utah is doing nothing," Reid said on University of Utah's KUER radio "RadioWest" program.  "If not the federal government, who?"  Reid said he is a "cheerleader for what has gone on in Texas."  "I think Texas is doing what Utah and Arizona should have done decades ago." Reid, a Mormon, told radio host Doug Fabrizio.  He said he was "embarrassed" for the two states.  "Utah politicians are afraid to do anything about it and I think that's wrong," Reid said.  "It doesn't make those states look good."  Reid said he supported the Texas decision to move the children taken from the compound into foster facilities.  Shurtleff was angry at Reid's words and is writing a letter to the senator demanding an apology on behalf of those who have worked against polygamy in the state.  He's also including a list of what the state has done in combat polygamy and pointing to problems in Nevada.     Read more
Reid, Shurtleff bury hatchet and pledge to work together
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, May 1, 2008

The attorneys general of Utah and Arizona are pledging to work with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to form a federal task force to deal with polygamy-related crimes.  After publicly sparring over the raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch in Texas, the Nevada senator called Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on Tuesday to bury the hatchet.  "He said, 'I'm ready to kiss and make up,"' Shurtleff told the Deseret News.  Shurtleff said Reid pledged to help get the U.S. Justice Department involved to arrange a meeting between Arizona, Utah and Nevada authorities, as well as federal authorities.  "I'll forgive him really quickly if we can get the feds involved," Shurtleff said.  "I said, 'Thank you, let's hope this is the first step to cooperation."'  The politicians got into a war of words recently when Reid, D-Nev., praised Texas authorities for the raid on the YFZ Ranch and accused Utah and Arizona of doing nothing about polygamy.  Reid also said he was "embarrassed" for the two states.  The comments infuriated Shurtleff, who demanded an apology.  "They wouldn't be in Texas if we didn't kick them out of Utah," Shurtleff said.  Shurtleff and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard are still sending a letter to Reid, giving him background on the two states' crackdowns on crimes within polygamy.  A copy of the letter given to the Deseret News pointed out that the 1953 raid on the community of Short Creek (now known as Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.) was criticized and, as a result, the communities were ignored for almost 50 years.     Read more
Shame on Harry Reid
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, May 1, 2008

We're not sure what motivated Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to attack Utah and Arizona as turning "a blind eye" for decades to the "travesty" of illegal activity in polygamous compounds.  What we do know is that he is wrong.  In a taped appearance on KUER radio's "RadioWest" program earlier this week, Reid sounded a lot like a student trying to bluff his way through an exam for which he hadn't studied.  He may have hoped a confident voice and strong statements would be enough to convince his listeners, but anyone who has lived here awhile and followed the news would give him an F.  Utah and Arizona, he said, are full of politicians who are afraid to tackle what goes on in polygamous sects.  He called himself a "cheerleader for what has gone on in Texas," and said he wants to prod the federal government to convene a task force to investigate those groups.  He was careful, of course, to avoid singling out his own state, Nevada, which also has had its problems with polygamous groups.  Beyond that, however, the fact is the FLDS Church moved its compounds to Eldorado, Texas, because Utah's leaders, especially Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, were putting heat on the group in Utah.  An Associated Press account on March 13, 2005, reported that FLDS members were moving to Texas, "to avoid prosecution in Utah on allegations of forced child marriages, sexual abuse, welfare fraud and tax evasion."     Read more
Reid missed opportunity
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, May 1, 2008

Among other things, I hope Sen. Harry Reid's criticism of Utah and Arizona will help distinguish Mormonism from polygamy. However, Mr. Reid missed the opportunity of a lifetime to defend his faith when Mitt Romney's Mormonism was being vilified in the press. Apparently, Reid preferred being a gutless Democrat to defending truth. Where were his bold words then?

Brett Bezzant
American Fork
Ariz., Utah assail senator for polygamy comments
By Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Originally published May 1, 2008

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and his Utah counterpart are calling for federal assistance in fighting polygamy-related crimes in response to criticism from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Reid complained this week that the states have not been aggressive enough in attacking plural marriages.  Goddard and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff sent a letter challenging Reid after his remarks on a Salt Lake City radio show, where he assailed them for not conducting Texas-style raids in polygamous Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.  "I think that Texas is doing what Utah and Arizona should have done a long time ago," the Nevada senator said, referring to enforcement against the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound in Eldorado, Texas.  Shurtleff demanded an apology, saying he and Goddard have conducted a campaign against child sex abuse and racketeering within the towns for more than six years.  On ABC 4 News of Salt Lake City, Shurtleff noted that Warren Jeffs, the FLDS prophet, was sentenced to prison for arranging a child wedding that took place in Reid's home state.  Shurtleff speculated that Reid is motivated by the fact he is Mormon, "and he has a guilty conscience about his ancestors or something."     Read more
Why is Reid so harsh?
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, May 2, 2008

I have some respect for Sen. Harry Reid. Respect can only go so far. I know he is protected under the First Amendment for what he says, but what is his point behind the harsh remarks against Utah and Arizona? Last time I checked, he represented the state of Nevada.

Eric Green
Calls for crackdown on polygamist towns in AZ, Utah
By Jim Cross and Hanna Scott
KTAR 92.3 - Phoenix
Originally broadcast Friday, May 2, 2008

A Mohave County leader says it's time for Arizona to follow Texas' lead and act against the polygamist community of Colorado City.  Meanwhile, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said local authorities are making progress in dealing with alleged abuse in Colorado City and that he's hopeful of getting help from the federal government.  Colorado City and neighboring Hildale, Utah, are headquarters of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The church's leader, Warren Jeffs, is jailed in Kingman, awaiting trial on charges of arranging marriages of underaged girls to much older men.  Three weeks ago, Texas authorities raided a church compound near Eldorado, Texas, after a call purported to be from a 13-year-old girl, who said she had been forced to marry and was pregnant with an older man's child.  Texas has taken custody of more than 400 children found at the compound named the Yearning for Zion Ranch.  Maricopa County Supervisor Buster Johnson says 60 percent of the underaged girls taken from the Texas compound are pregnant or have had children.  He suggested similar numbers may exist in Colorado City.  "One way to put an end to all this is to go up to Colorado City and have all the women come out with their children and say, 'Okay, this is your child, you have a birth certificate, looks like you were 13 when you had this child. We have a crime,' and then use DNA tests to show exactly who the perpetrators were," Johnson said.     Read more
Kids' safety overrides First and Fourth amendments
The Spectrum
Originally published Saturday, May 3, 2008

As a hyper-proponent of the First and Fourth amendments, it took a long time, but, after looking at the facts carefully, it is impossible not to defend and praise Texas officials for removing more than 400 children from the Yearning For Zion ranch in Eldorado, Texas, owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Look, I vigorously defend the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion.  I also vigorously defend the Fourth Amendment that guarantees that the cops can't bust down your door without reasonable cause.  However, the facts speak for themselves:  Of the 53 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 who were removed from the Texas compound, 31 either already have children or are pregnant.  Texas authorities are now saying there is evidence that boys, as well as the young girls, may have been victims of physical or sexual abuse.  Medical examinations indicate that nearly 10 percent of the children have broken bones.  In the real world, less than 1 percent of American children suffer a broken bone each year, according to one source.  These are, as Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said, members of the FLDS church who "wouldn't be in Texas if we didn't kick them out of Utah."  Shurtleff defends Utah and Arizona law enforcement, which was roughed up pretty good a few days earlier by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who accused Shurtleff and his Arizona counterpart, Terry Goddard, of turning a "blind eye" to polygamy.  Shurtleff said Reid subsequently apologized for his statements.  I think Shurtleff is spinning.     Read more
Reid owes Shurtleff apology
Deseret News
Originally published Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., not only owes Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff an apology, he owes an apology to fellow Mormons for his un-Mormon-like behavior. The FLDS issue is only the latest of Reid's actions. I expect a high profile Mormon to conduct himself consistent with his beliefs, not with incivility, disrespect and contention rampant in the political community. Shurtleff is a credit to Utah and to the Latter-day Saint beliefs. To "Bro. Reid" I say redemption is available to everyone, even mouthy politicians.

Elmary Davidson
Nevada senator need not apologize for polygamy statement
The Spectrum
Originally published May 7, 2008

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, a cheerleader for the actions of authorities in Eldorado, Texas, recently said that Texas was doing what Arizona and Utah should have been doing long ago.  That drew a rebuke from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and a demand for an apology.  (The reaction of Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard is unknown.)  Sen. Reid apologized.  Shurtleff snidely remarked that the spiritual marriage that led to the charges against Warren Jeffs, president and prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, took place in a motel near Caliente, Nev.  In so many words, he was implying that Nevada wasn't entirely innocent in this matter.  He left out the part where Jeffs was apprehended by a Nevada Highway Patrolman on Interstate 15 when neither Arizona nor Utah could find him.  That arrest led to a trial that found Jeffs guilty on two counts of being an accomplice to rape.  Polygamy is an insidious practice.  All of us are now painfully aware of just what went on at the Yearning for Zion Ranch at Eldorado.  The state of Texas has custody of 464 children from the FLDS ranch compound.  Among that group reportedly are 53 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 who are either pregnant or already have children.  Further, Texas authorities have reported that some of the boys may have been abused physically or sexually and that nearly 10 percent of the children have suffered fractures, a rate 10 times the national average.  Women who have been separated from their children by social workers should be screaming their heads off but have been disconcertedly docile.  It doesn't appear to be apathy but rather mind conditioning.     Read more
Feds will review polygamy problems
The Associated Press
Originally published Thursday, May 8, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY - A federal prosecutor has been assigned to look for ways to help tackle problems associated with polygamy in Western states, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.  "This is precisely the kind of help I believe the federal government should provide," Reid said in a letter to attorneys general in Utah and Arizona.  "Your requests for federal funding to assist victims of domestic violence also merit prompt review."  Reid's letter, dated Monday, said the Justice Department can strengthen efforts to fight crime within polygamous groups.  He said he sought assistance from Attorney General Michael Mukasey and was told a senior career prosecutor has been appointed to carry out a review of how to help Utah and Arizona.  In a meeting with Justice Department officials two years ago, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard raised concerns about tax violations and civil-rights violations.  Reid recently blasted Utah and Arizona, accusing the states of failing to investigate crimes in polygamous communities.  He's since patched things up with Shurtleff and Goddard.  Reid has called for a federal-state task force to investigate polygamous groups after an April 3 raid on a Texas ranch owned by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  State officials said children at the ranch were at risk of abuse.  More than 400 are in temporary state custody.     Read more
FLDS issue could hurt Romney's VP chances
By Lisa Riley Roche
Deseret News
Originally published Sunday, May 11, 2008

Last month's raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church in Texas could prevent Mitt Romney from being picked as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, one of his longtime supporters says.  "Unfortunately, the FLDS issue has probably elevated considerations about what Romney's faith would do to the ticket," said Kirk Jowers, director of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics and an early backer of Romney's failed presidential bid.  Now, Jowers said, Romney has to once again confront concerns about his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because the faith is so often confused with that practiced by followers of the FLDS Church.  Romney, who ended his race for the White House earlier this year, is seen as being on the shortlist of possible running mates for the presumptive GOP nominee, Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain.  McCain has said he is considering a number of unnamed candidates for the No. 2 spot on the party ticket.  His decision is not expected until after Democrats finally choose their nominee from between Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.  The timing of the Texas raid couldn't be worse for Romney's chances, Jowers said.  "Everything that's on the public's mind is a consideration when looking at your VP candidates," Jowers said.  "So fair or not, everything's on the board as McCain weighs which individual will help him get elected as president."  Texas officials have rounded up more than 450 children from the polygamous sect's ranch there and have placed them in foster care while allegations of child abuse are investigated. More than 30 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 are believed to either be or have been pregnant.  In June, Romney is scheduled to speak at the Texas State Republican Convention, and there's likely to be no avoiding the questions surrounding both his LDS faith and the beliefs of the FLDS.     Read more
After public misfire on polygamy, Reid acts to help those he blasted
By Lisa Mascaro
Las Vegas Sun
Originally published Sunday, May 11, 2008

Washington — It wasn't his appearance on "The Daily Show" last week that tripped up Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  No, the heartburn came from his comments the previous week on college radio station KUER-FM at the University of Utah.  Reid told the interviewer he was embarrassed by the lax approach authorities in Utah and Arizona took toward polygamy, suggesting they should operate more like those in Texas who raided a polygamous compound after being tipped to alleged child abuse.  "I am a cheerleader for what is going on in Texas," Reid said on KUER's RadioWest, according to a report in The Salt Lake Tribune.  "To have what goes on in Arizona and in Utah go on year after year after year and people turn a blind eye to it, I think it is a travesty," Reid went on.  "I am embarrassed for the two states ... Utah politicians are afraid to do anything about it, and I think that's wrong."  What follows next is straight from the Salt Lake paper:  "Reid's comments brought a swift reaction from an ‘outraged' Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and an equally incensed Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard," the Tribune reported. "‘To have him come in, without any knowledge whatsoever, and to accuse Utah of doing nothing, is unacceptable,' Shurtleff said in an interview.  ‘He ought to get educated before he opens his trap, frankly.'"  "Arizona's Goddard, a Democrat, called Reid's remarks ‘ignorant posturing,'" the paper continued.  "‘The man has no idea what he's talking about,' Goddard said.  ‘The senator certainly doesn't understand Utah and Arizona.'"  Whew.  No wonder Reid was so quiet on Jon Stewart's show.  It's one thing to get tangled on an irreverent late-night comedy show angling for a laugh.  It's another to spend two weeks backtracking from comments made on the relatively friendlier turf of public radio.     Read more
County supervisors look at Colorado City library
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Tuesday, May 20, 2008

KINGMAN - Two issues dealing with Colorado City went before the Mohave County supervisors Monday.  The board heard from a library group from that northern Mohave County town wishing to establish a county library there.  County director Bob Shupe said the library that had been in Colorado City disappeared when Warren Jeffs, the jailed leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, assumed leadership of the church in 2002.  Shupe said there is an interest in a library in the area and a 4,000-square-foot, two-story former schoolhouse could be used even though the building is owned by the church.  The city and surrounding area is currently served using book-by-mail through the county library.  Dist. 1 Sup. Pete Byers supported putting a library in the area as did Dist. 2 Sup. Tom Sockwell but warned the group that the first sign of censorship or removing any books by the church, the supervisors, which also acts as the board of directors for the library district, would close the library down.  Dist. 3 Sup. Buster Johnson opposed the move saying he has not seen a need from the current book-by-mail system.  Johnson also questioned if there was adequate parking or handicap access.  He also suggested lowering the property taxes for the library district because of an increase in the library budget.  Byers and Sockwell voted to proceed with the library but to come back with proposals on the cost and the final location.     Read more
FLDS Spokesperson and Utah Attorney General Blast Each Other On Live Television
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Friday, May 30, 2008

KUTV airwaves turned into a verbal boxing ring, Thursday night, when FLDS Spokesperson Willie Jessop and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff exchanged heated words.  Thursday's quarrel was not the first confrontation between the two public figures. In a letter -- written by Jessop and sent to President Bush -- Jessop accuses Shurtleff of furthering "efforts to exterminate the FLDS and boasting that he has driven them out of Utah." (Click here to read the FLDS Letter To Pres. Bush)  In a live 2NEWS interview at 5 p.m., Shurtleff called Jessop a "liar" and threatened him saying, "we put Warren Jeffs in prison here, and as for the rest of them, we will too."  "I've got a word for Willie Jessop, that lives in Utah, and is defending this, and says that it isn't going on. He's a liar," said Shurtleff.  "If you come here to Utah and think you can wed underage girls; you've got to think again."  Later, during the 10 p.m. 2NEWS broadcast, Willie Jessop compared Mark Shurtleff -- who is a Mormon -- to an Illinois Governor that ordered the extermination of Mormons during the L.D.S. Church's founding years.  "When you empower people in the government, with the power that he has, it sounded an awful lot like Governor Boggs in Illinois when he declared a declaration against the Mormon faith," Jessop said in the live interview.     Read more
Jacquielynn Floyd: After court decision on CPS case, Perry did the right thing by standing firm
The Dallas Morning News
Originally published Monday, June 9, 2008

Not being one to fawn over politicians of any stripe, I'm surprising even myself today: If I could, I would send Gov. Rick Perry a bouquet of yellow roses.  I'd buy him a beer.  First, his house burned down over the weekend.  Well, he doesn't actually own it – I guess you could say the Governor's Mansion is our house – but you know what I mean.  More important, our governor illustrated last week, with a few sharp and uncompromising words, that it is possible for an elected official to fade a little negative press.  It is possible to support subordinates who are under fire without waffling or crawfishing or running for the hills.  It is even possible to think more about what's right than about protecting yourself.  Because right now would be an easy and opportune time to back away from Child Protective Services' decision to remove all the children they found at the polygamist-cult ranch in Eldorado.  After all, it was a week of touching photographs showing family reunions and of headlines outlining the state's dark plans to separate mothers from their babies, a week during which the public was left with the inaccurate conclusion that allegations against the sect have been disproved.  It might have been understandable if the governor had tried to ease back a step or two from this political ant bed.  He did not.  If anybody thinks the state of Texas is ready to back away from negative publicity stemming from the raid – as did the states of Utah and Arizona in 1953, following strikingly similar political fallout from a raid on this very same sect – they are mistaken.  "I still think that the state of Texas has an obligation to young women who are forced into marriage and underage sex – to protect them," he said, when our reporter caught up with him at an economic conference in France.     Read more
Senate targets FLDS
Committee sees organized crime as possibility
By Trish Choate, Washington Bureau
Times Record News - Wichita Falls, Texas
Originally published Tuesday, July 15, 2008

WASHINGTON - The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will be the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee probe next week, possibly looking into organized crime and other federal crimes among polygamous sects.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has long sought more federal involvement in investigating polygamous sects, will testify at the July 24 hearing and will also introduce a bill next week to create a federal task force.  "His ultimate goal is to step up enforcement of the crimes that are committed in these polygamous sects," Jon Summers, spokesman for the Democratic senator from Nevada, said.  Reid would ultimately like to have a federal task force to partner with states to step up enforcement, Summers said.  In addition, Reid's upcoming bill would also provide grant funding for victims to assist with housing, as well as protection for those who choose to testify.  Abuse of women and children isn't the only concern, Summers said.  "We're learning about financial crimes that are being committed in some of these groups, as well," Summers said.  Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said he has been asked to testify.  "They asked me if I would come to testify about possible organized crime, racketeering, white collar crime, other federal crimes that might be being committed in certain sects like the FLDS," Shurtleff said.     Read more
U.S. attorney for Utah to testify before Senate committee on polygamy
Reported by: Annie Cutler
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast July 22, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Utah's U.S. Attorney is heading to Washington to talk about polygamy. Brett Tolman is on the witness list for Thursday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capital Hill.  He talked Tuesday about his thoughts on a possible federal task force to explore crimes associated with polygamy.  The hearing was requested by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.  He's been pushing for a federal task force since the Texas raid on the Yearning for Zion ranch.   Tolman questions whether it will add to what's already being done.  Tolman is the second speaker on the list, right after Senator Reid.  Tolman says, "At the heart is Senator Reid and his efforts to organize a federal task force or to bring attention to that issue."  Senator Reid angered some Utah officials regarding the issue of polygamy and how it's being handled.  Tolman says, "I certainly will defend what we've done here in the state of Utah."  Tolman claims organizing a federal task force will produce what Utah - and nearby states - already have in the works, "We have great communication, great cooperation and coordination between state, local, and federal law enforcement."  He continues, "If Senator Reid wants to introduce a bill that will funnel more or additional resources to our community and others to deal with this than who am I to turn it down, but I don't think it's going to change the way we have done things or the way we will do things from here on out."     Read more
Hatch: Polygamy not merely a 'Utah problem'
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Looking ahead to Thursday's hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on crimes associated with polygamy, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said it will show that polygamy is not just a "Utah problem."  In a statement to the Deseret News on Tuesday, Hatch said the hearing will give state and federal law enforcement a chance to talk about their efforts.  Hatch is a member of the powerful committee.  "As we have seen just this year, polygamy is not merely a 'Utah problem.' Recent enforcement efforts have shown that polygamists have set up shop in states around the country such as Arizona, Nevada, Texas and others," Hatch said.  "I look forward to hearing the witnesses' testimonies concerning the tools and means they are using to effectively crack down on those who practice polygamy."  Contrary to Hatch's public statement, the hearing's focus is not on polygamy itself — but crimes associated with it.  Prosecutors and ex-Fundamentalist LDS Church members will be among those who will testify.  The congressional hearing appears to be aimed primarily at the FLDS Church.  No FLDS members have been invited to testify, although some may show up for the hearing anyway.  "These people have been spreading these kinds of statements for years, and there's no evidence to back up any of their statements. At some point, you'd think someone would call them on that," said Rod Parker, a Salt Lake attorney acting as a spokesman for the FLDS.  "Instead, we have these people fomenting the kind of prejudice that ultimately leads to the raid in Texas."  Parker was drafting a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, taking them to task for not including FLDS members in testimony.  "It's appropriate, in my point of view, that the federal government be involved," Dan Fischer told the Deseret News on Monday night.     Read more
Arizona AG pleads for federal help in dealing with polygamists
KTAR 92.3 - Phoenix
Originally published July 24th, 2008

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard went before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday to ask for more federal help in dealing with the polygamist communities of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, on the Arizona-Utah border.  Goddard told the committee that a partnership between his office and that of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, began in 2003, has made important changes, but "a great deal of work still lies ahead."  He said the polygamist communities of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have existed for years and, "What has taken a century to build cannot be changed overnight."  Goddard opened his testimony before the committee by emphasizing that the FLDC is not the mainstream Mormon Church, but a branch that emerged after the Mormon Church renounced the practice of polygamy in the early 1900s.  He added, "The work being done by my office in Colorado City is not about religion, culture or lifestyle. Rather, it is about protecting women and children from domestic abuse and sexual violence, combating fraud and public corruption, enforcing civil rights laws."  He noted Arizona and Utah authorities have succeeded in prosecuting FLDS leader Warren Jeffs on charges of forcing underaged women into marriage.  Jeffs, convicted in Utah last year, is now in jail at Kingman, Ariz., awaiting trial on felony charges of sexual abuse of a minor.     Read more
Polygamy hearings begin in Washington D.C.
Reported by: Chris Vanocur
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast July 24, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. (ABC 4 News) - A cult, organized crime, Nazis; These were just some of the ways polygamists were described on Thursday before a Senate committee hearing in Washington, D.C.  The testimony came as the federal government threatened to crack down on the FLDS and others.  Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the first federal hearing in fifty years was held on plural marriage.  In a way, this WAS your grandfather's senate hearing.  The 165-year-old polygamy issue was brought to Washington by Senator Harry Reid.  The Mormon from Searchlight, Nevada told the Judiciary Committee that polygamy was like organized crime, and he did so on Pioneer Day.  Sen. Harry Reid, (D) - Nevada said, "We do honor to our pioneer ancestors by condemning those who have wrongfully cloaked themselves in the trappings of religion to obscure their true criminal purposes."  Reid has introduced a bill calling for a federal task force on polygamy, a move which gives the U.S. Attorney from Utah some pause.  Brett Tolman, U.S. Attorney from Utah said, "A task force may be too blunt an instrument to accomplish an effective investigation and subtler, more covert methods may be profitably employed."  Listening closely was Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, a Mormon whose family has polygamist roots.  Repeatedly, Hatch reminded a nationwide audience that the FLDS should never be confused with LDS.     Read more
Shurtleff working and campaigning from living room
By Lori Prichard
Originally broadcast September 3, 2008

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says he's ready to begin campaigning for November, despite undergoing major surgery four days ago to repair a badly broken leg.  His campaign will look markedly different this year than Shurtleff's last two campaigns.  For one thing, he's facing anywhere from six to nine months recovery time, time that doesn't allow for him to get out and shake a lot of hands.  Resting, recovering in his parents' living room, Utah Attorney General Shurtleff talks about what he wants to do during this campaign and what he can't do.  "Getting out and meeting people is really what I should be doing, but I haven't been able to because of this," he said.  "This" is the halo-like contraption that the two-term Republican hopes will repair his shattered left leg.  It's a lingering injury that happened last September when Shurtleff was asked to ride a motorcycle for a fundraiser.  "I grew up on dirt bikes and have even ridden smaller street bikes, and the first thought that came to my mind when I first got on there was, ‘Wait a minute, this was bigger than you've ever done before. Ask for something smaller.' And I just didn't."  Now, seven surgeries later and the threat of a leg amputation, Shurtleff faces six to nine months of living and working with this: "My BlackBerry, my laptop at home. I can still do the job, review documents, still work," he said.     Read more
Prop. 8: Whose "Traditional Marriage" Does It Protect?
By Peter Schrag
California Progress Report
Originally published October 23, 2008

According to the best estimates, the big money campaign for Proposition 8, the initiative banning gay marriage, has collected over $9.4 million from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), roughly 46 percent of the $20 million-plus raised in large contributions so far.  That, needless to say, is the largest amount from any single category of contributors.  The sponsors of the November ballot measure call themselves defenders of "traditional marriage."  But what version of traditional marriage do the Mormon contributors have in mind?  Is it the" traditional marriage" of Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith who, according to one Mormon site "was sealed to 28 women before his death, though it is not clear how many he cohabited with."  "Sealed," according to the same site, means married in the Church not only for the duration of this life, but forever.  Smith apparently first resisted the idea of polygamy but was then persuaded that God ordained it.  Or was the exemplar of traditional marriage Mormon leader Brigham Young, the second prophet of the church, who, in the 1860s and 1870s, had 57 children by 16 women?  So is traditional marriage one between one man and one woman, or a man and 16 women, or maybe 28?  Joseph Smith called it "celestial marriage."  Utah, the "Zion", where the church settled after its members were harassed and persecuted in the Midwest, was admitted to the Union in 1896 on condition that it prohibit polygamy.  But the church, under continuous pressure from Congress and from U.S. marshals seizing church property, didn't officially end it until 1904, when the then-prophet got word from God that He wanted "plural marriage" to stop.  The church says it now excommunicates polygamists, and presumably few have kicked in to the Proposition 8 campaign.  But as the news of the past year made clear, there are still polygamists running around in the hills of the southwest, including a few, it appears, with underage wives, who claim to be the real Mormons.     Read more
Polygamy central issue in Utah AG race
The Associated Press
News 8 - Austin, Texas
Originally published October 25, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY -- Polygamy is on the minds of Utah voters. Texas is one of the reasons.  The raid on a polygamist compound near the West Texas town of Eldorado is one of the biggest issues in the race for Utah attorney general.  The raid ended with more than 400 kids temporarily in state custody.  Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Democrat Jean Welch Hill both told The Associated Press that the first question they are asked by voters is always about polygamy.  There are an estimated 37,000 polygamists living in the West, most in Utah.  In 2007, Shurtleff's office helped prosecute polygamous church leader Warren Jeffs.  His Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is primarily centered on the Utah-Arizona border, but some followers began moving to Eldorado in 2004.  In April, Texas authorities raided the group's Yearning for Zion ranch after a report that a teenage girl had been physically and sexually abused.  That call is now considered a hoax, but children were separated from their families for about two months while police and child welfare authorities investigated.  All but one child has been returned to their parents and most child welfare cases have been dropped.  Nine FLDS men, however, now face criminal indictments on charges related to underage marriage and bigamy.  Hill contends the entire raid was ill-conceived.  Shurtleff is on record for initially supporting the raid.  He contends Texas authorities had to raid the compound because of the isolated way the FLDS live.
Polygamy central issue in Utah AG race
The Associated Press
KUTV Channel 2
Originally published October 25, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Polygamy is never far from the minds of Utahns - even when it occurs in another state.  A raid on a polygamist compound in Texas earlier this year that put more 400 kids in state custody has become one of the biggest issues in the race for Utah attorney general.  Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Democrat Jean Welch Hill both told The Associated Press that the first question they are asked by voters is always about polygamy, even as they try to focus on other issues.  "They all want to know what we're doing and continue to plan to do in regard to the polygamy issue," Shurtleff said.  "That's not something we've said has become a main priority, but it has become of interest to everybody and they encourage us to make sure we go down that road and hold these guys responsible who use religion to hurt kids."  There are an estimated 37,000 polygamists living in the West, most in Utah.  In 2007, Shurtleff's office helped prosecute polygamous church leader Warren Jeffs, who was convicted of two counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in the 2001 marriage of a 14-year-old follower to her 19-year-old cousin.  Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is primarily centered on the Utah-Arizona border, but some followers began moving to Eldorado, Texas in 2004.     Read more
Guide details candidates for polygamists
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008

Once closed off and isolated, the estimated 37,000 members of Utah's polygamist communities could become the next voting bloc for candidates to try to capture.  A voter guide is being circulated in polygamist circles, detailing the candidates in this year's election and where they stand on issues such as ethics and equality.  "We feel like this is our time," said Carlene Cannon, a member of the Davis County Cooperative Society (also known as the Kingston group), who helped create the 12-page newsletter.  "We feel like it's really important that we are engaged in the laws that are being made."  Principle Voices, a nonprofit pro-polygamy group, said "Communities in Harmony" does not necessarily reflect its political stance, but director Mary Batchelor penned a column encouraging fundamentalists to lobby lawmakers and vote.  "If we fail to do this, we have only ourselves to blame for laws and policies which fail to meet our needs, or which may even be injurious to us," she wrote.  Members of Utah's polygamist communities have become increasingly united and vocal in recent years against perceived attacks on their lifestyle.  Their numbers could impact an election: An unofficial census by Principle Voices counts 37,000 people in Utah and surrounding states who self-identify as fundamentalists.  Cannon said she has seen more and more members of her community register to vote in recent years.  "I know that we have a big enough voting bloc to get candidates into office and vote them out of office," she said.     Read more
Utah residents make polygamy forefront of AG race
The Associated Press
Boston Herald
Originally published Sunday, October 26, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY - Polygamy is never far from the minds of Utah residents — even when it occurs in another state.  A raid on a polygamist compound in Texas earlier this year that put more 400 kids in state custody has become one of the biggest issues in the race for Utah attorney general.  Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Democratic challenger Jean Welch Hill both told The Associated Press that the first question they are asked by voters is always about polygamy, even as they try to focus on other issues.  "They all want to know what we're doing and continue to plan to do in regard to the polygamy issue," Shurtleff said.  "They encourage us to make sure we go down that road and hold these guys responsible who use religion to hurt kids."  There are an estimated 37,000 polygamists in the West, most of them in Utah.  Polygamy is a legacy of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which founded Utah and remains its dominant religion.  The faith abandoned the practice in 1890 as a condition of statehood, but many self-described fundamentalist Mormons still believe in the principle.  In 2007, Shurtleff's office helped prosecute polygamous church leader Warren Jeffs, who was convicted of two counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in the 2001 marriage of a 14-year-old follower to her 19-year-old cousin.  Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is primarily centered in twin communities straddling the Utah-Arizona state line, but some followers began moving to Eldorado, Texas, in 2004.  This past April, Texas authorities raided the group's Yearning for Zion ranch at Eldorado after a report that a teenage girl had been physically and sexually abused.  That call is now considered a hoax, but children were separated from their families for about two months while police and child welfare authorities investigated.  Nine FLDS men now face indictments on charges related to underage marriage and bigamy.     Read more
Council Rejects Religious Outsider for Open Seat
FOX 13 Utah
Originally published Monday, 27 Oct 2008

HILDALE, Utah -- A religious outsider's bid for a seat on the city council in Hildale has fallen short.  Members of the polygamy-practicing Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints dominate the population of Hildale and have traditionally held all the city council seats.  Longtime area resident and church outsider Lamont Black sought one of two council vacancies.  His candidacy was backed by other non- and ex-FLDS members who live in the community.  Council members picked two church members to fill the posts on Saturday.  Hildale Mayor David Zitting says all three candidates were qualified, but those chosen will best represent the community.  Zitting also says Black submitted his application and a petition of support after the filing deadline for candidates.
Utah Democrat AG Candidate Says Polygamy Must be Allowed Based on Repeal of Sodomy Law
Acceptance of polygamy creeping into Western countries in wake of successes of homosexualist movement
By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
Lifesite - Pittsburgh, PA
Originally published Tuesday October 28, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, October 28, 2008 ( - Democratic Attorney General candidate Jean Welch Hill has told Utah voters that polygamists should never have to fear being prosecuted for their religion.  According to an AP report she said that the Utah bigamy statute is unconstitutional in the wake of the 2003 Supreme Court ruling Lawrence v. Texas.  That case struck down the Texas sodomy law, saying it violated the due process clause and that the state had no justifiable interest intruding into the private lives of consenting adults.  "Our bigamy law still stands but, frankly, it's indefensible based on that ruling," Hill told AP.  "You can prosecute for forced marriages, but to actively prosecute a polygamist for being a polygamist? You're not going to succeed."  Incumbent Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says, however, that he is more concerned with polygamy being legalized under a court ruling in favor of homosexual "marriage," than Lawrence v. Texas.  "Once you take it to the next level of marriage and children, marriage and divorce, that's different than having sex with who you want in the privacy of your home," he said in the AP report.  Utah is in a unique situation due to the legacy of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is the state's dominant religion.  Though polygamy was abandoned as a tenet of faith in 1890, there are an estimated 37,000 polygamists in the West, most of them in Utah.     Read more
Polygamy is common theme for AG candidates
By Tom Callan
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast October 29, 2008

They may disagree on just about everything else, but both candidates for Utah Attorney General have noticed a common theme on the campaign trail.  Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said polygamy was the first question he gets asked, and he gets tired of it.  "I do, because it's a tiny part of what we do in the office, but it gets all the media attention," he said.  "It's what's interesting to the media, so it's all you hear about."  He said he has only one part-time investigator to check out polygamous sects.  Democratic challenger Jean Welch Hill told the Associated Press she gets the same questions about polygamy.  We called her for comment, but she did not return our calls.

Utah polygamous communities produce voter's guide
Groups hope to re-establish influence
The Associated Press
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Sunday, November 2, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY - One of Utah's original voting blocs - polygamists - is attempting to re-establish its political influence after more than a century of largely trying to go unnoticed.  Communities in Harmony, an alliance of representatives from various Utah polygamous groups, has issued a voter's guide to assist Utah's polygamists with Election Day decision-making.  "We need the candidates to know that they are just as accountable to us as they are to other constituents," Carlene Cannon, the group's spokeswoman and a member of the Davis County Cooperative Society, which practices polygamy.  Polygamy is a legacy of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The faith brought the practice to Utah in the 1840s but abandoned it in 1890 as a condition of statehood.  Self-described fundamentalist Mormons continue to believe the principle brings glorification in heaven and maintain the practice mostly in secret.  But recent events have many fundamentalists placing a renewed focus on participating in the political process.  In 2005, Utah courts took over a polygamous church's property trust, and this year a highly publicized raid on the same sect's ranch at Eldorado, Texas, put more than 400 children in state custody.  The voter's guide questioned political candidates at all levels of state and federal government on political ethics and civil rights.  "Those of us watching at home in disbelief tried to comprehend that here in America; the land of the free, our own people were treated as if they were cattle and hauled off by military force - a picture of hate for a people misunderstood," a section of the voter's guide says.  "The iron fist the state of Texas extended was not an accident. Our own public officials bragged about the assistance they gave to Texas officials."     Read more
Supporters of gay-marriage ban vie for amendment
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
East Valley Tribune
Originally published November 4, 2008

Supporters of a ban on gay marriage are counting on a new strategy and more money to persuade voters this year to amend the state constitution.  Two years ago the measure they placed on the ballot sought not only to outlaw same-sex marriage but also to bar any law that recognized civil unions.  The proposal also would have banned governments from providing benefits such as health insurance to the domestic partners of their employees.  It was narrowly defeated.  This year the proponents of Proposition 201 decided to narrow their focus, sticking to the issue of who can marry.  "The goal was to make the proposal really clear," said Kelly Molique, a spokeswoman for the pro-201 campaign.  She said that, in turn, led to the other key difference between the 2006 and 2008 races: money.  In 2006, foes outspent proponents. This year backers have built a war chest in excess of $7.6 million, relying heavily on contributions of $10,000 or more from individual families.  The two committees opposing the measure have collected less than 10 percent of that.  And the Center for Arizona Policy, which bills itself as promoting "family values," has its own "get out the vote" effort aimed at getting those in support of the measure to the polls.  State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said all that spending by proponents can't help but affect the outcome.  One thing that put foes at a fiscal disadvantage is the ballot fight in California, where a similar constitutional amendment is going to voters.     Read more
Shurtleff sets several goals for 'last' term as Utah's AG
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008

Newly re-elected Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff insists his third term as the state's top prosecutor will be his last.  "I made a promise to my wife it's the last time I run for attorney general," he chuckled.  "So far she's accepted that. She hasn't asked me if that means I won't run for anything else, and I haven't promised anything."  But pressed if he plans to run for another office, the Republican incumbent did not discount a future run for governor or U.S. Senate.  "There's things I could do as governor that I think would benefit the state," he said in a recent interview with the Deseret News.  "I've always had an interest in the United States Senate ... but it all depends on timing and who's in and who's out, who's going to run again. So I just keep my options open and, in the meantime, do my job. I think that's the best thing I can do, is be a good attorney general."  Re-elected by a wide margin over his opponents, Shurtleff said he has some initiatives he'd like to accomplish in his final term — including a crackdown on prescription drug abuse and Internet-based crimes against children, more investigations and prosecutions of crimes within polygamous groups, and expanding an identity theft database.  "It's kind of a mandate to continue," he said of his re-election.     Read more
LDS Church Targeting Continues In Wake Of Prop. 8
Reported by: Rod Decker
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast November 18, 2008

Attacks on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continue in the wake of Proposition 8.  The producers of South Park, a cartoon on TV, say they will bring a satirical musical to Broadway early next year called "Mormon Musical."  They say they already have a script.  One episode of the cartoon on TV already satirized Mormons, and included a song: "Joseph Smith he was a prophet, dum dum dum dum dum."  A story Monday in the Los Angeles Times said the LDS Church "feels the heat" over Proposition 8.  The story cited Professor Jan Shipps, a leading scholar of Mormonism.  She said the Church image rode high after the successful 2002 Olympic Games.  But Mitt Romney's Mormonism proved a drawback during his run for the Presidency.  When Texas lawmen raided the FLDS "Yearning for Zion" compound near El Dorado, and illegally seized all the children, many people over the world confused the FLDS and the LDS, and the Mormon image was further harmed.  Dr. Shipps predicts the fallout from Proposition 8 may harm the LDS missionary effort, and retard the Church's growth.     See photo
LDS church's stance shows hypocrisy
The Spectrum
Originally published December 16, 2008

The powers that be in the LDS church saw fit to wage a full assault on the rights of citizens in the state of California regarding their choice of who they can or cannot marry. The LDS Church helped lead and fund a $22 million campaign designed to change the constitution of the state of California to forbid same sex marriages, an assault on the basis of their "moral convictions."

I realize that the LDS church is probably the most powerful, wealthy and influential single entity in the state of Utah. But to use the guise of their "moral convictions" to determine any citizen's right to marry is outrageous. I have yet to see or hear of any campaign from the LDS church to apply their moral righteousness to the blatant illegal and immoral activity within the Mormon community itself. The LDS church obviously has no problem with the common FLDS practice of middle-aged men sexually abusing children; taking several underage girls as their "spiritual" wives and condemning them to life-long servitude. Instead, it chooses to impose it's "moral standard" to deny marriage rights to adults of the same sex. What hypocrisy.

No, I am not Mormon and not gay. I am a 63-year-old Vietnam veteran and was raised in a loving Christian home. I was taught to respect the personal religious beliefs of any individual and that I had no right to impose my beliefs on anyone.

Crimes against children, whether sanctioned or condoned by any religion, are a stain on humanity. Shame on you, LDS church.

Gordon Olson
The Vent
The Spectrum
Originally published December 20, 2008

Correct facts would ease your indignation.  First, the LDS church did not fund the $22 million pro-traditional marriage proposition.  The members and dozens of other churches and organizations did.  Second, the FLDS church is no more a part of the LDS church, than the Catholics.  Third, the LDS church has zero sympathy for any crimes against children.  Fourth, the FLDS church is not vandalizing our buildings or forcing the government to teach their doctrines in all schools, or using the courts and civil laws to try and take away tax exemption from all who oppose them, but the gay community is doing all the above and more.
Don't let society become corrupt
The Spectrum
Originally published December 21, 2008

I am responding to a recent article about the LDS church. First of all I would like to say we cannot let our society be corrupted by letting one thing slip by. Let me annotate, in earlier years gay was unaccepted, not respected, etc. Today some say being gay is just what happens in nature. I would like to firmly disagree with it.

Morals mean something, and if we keep accepting once non-acceptable things, soon there will be no such thing as morals. I agree we do have freedom to choose, but there has to be a boundary that we don't cross. Being gay is not natural, it is a choice someone decides, and a choice we should not respect.

Now don't get me wrong, we should love the sinner, but hate the sin. Don't condemn the sinner, but the sin.

Now in response to the LDS church not "taking action" in the dealings with the FLDS church, I would like to assure you police, government and others are surely taking it into their hands. Every time something bad happens with the FLDS church, it affects us, too, because people don't correctly distinguish the two separate churches.

Shayla Wilkinson
St. George
Writer needs facts on church
The Spectrum
Originally published December 21, 2008

I think a letter writer needs to be better informed on several issues:

The FLDS church is in no way associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The LDS church discontinued polygamy more than 100 years ago.

Anyone who practices polygamy is not a member of the LDS church.

Polygamy is against the law! It is not up the LDS church to prosecute practitioners of this belief. It is up to the legal authorities.

It was the people of California who voted in favor of Proposition 8. Members of the LDS church are a small minority there.

The LDS church does state, unequivocally, that a marriage is between a man and a woman and ordained by God. That is a basic belief of the church.

The writer states he was raised in a loving Christian home and was taught to respect personal religious beliefs and had no right to impose his beliefs on anyone. Where is his tolerance towards the LDS church? You certainly don't show a Christian respect for the LDS church based on your comments.

It may come as a shock, but a letter is not going to convert anyone to the church nor convince anyone to leave the church.

Peter F. Berry
St. George
Activists deliver more than 27,000 letters to LDS Church
By Aaron Falk
Deseret News
Originally published Monday, Dec. 22, 2008

Gay rights activists hand-delivered more than 27,000 letters to the LDS Church's downtown Salt Lake headquarters Monday in the latest effort to earn the church's support in the fight for equal rights.  Members of the Human Rights Campaign abandoned technology for old-fashioned paper and ink after discovering that an e-mail filter was preventing thousands of messages from reaching The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  "We wanted to make sure they got there," said Jerry Rapier of the Human Rights Campaign.  The move was the latest attempt by activists to get church leaders to publicly support the Common Ground Initiative, a set of five bills aimed at securing civil protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  Those measures will come before the Legislature next year.  A church employee accepted the boxes of letters outside the downtown office.  Church spokesman Scott Trotter declined to comment on the HRC's request Monday, but said the e-mails had not been intentionally blocked.  "We didn't take any measures to block their e-mails," he said, chalking the delivery issues up to the church's spam filter.     Read more
Shame on writer and newspaper
The Spectrum
Originally published December 24, 2008

Shame on a writer for recently slandering the LDS Church as he did. Shame on The Spectrum for printing such garbage. Yes, you have the right of free speech, but blatant falsehoods do not have to be printed when they are spoken or written. What is an editor for?

At least do your due diligence and find out the truth of what the LDS Church believes before you open your mouth. You wrote, "The LDS church obviously has no problem with the common FLDS practice of middle-aged men sexually abusing children; taking several underage girls as their 'spiritual' wives and condemning them to life long servitude." Garbage!

Of course the LDS Church has a problem with that, and shame on The Spectrum for printing it. The LDS Church has nothing to do with the FLDS or its practices.

As far as the marrying of same-gender individuals, the LDS Church believes in the Bible, and the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13). If you don't want to believe in the Bible, that is your choice, but don't harass and slander us for believing in the Bible, the word of God, and following it.

David Moss
Santa Clara
Equal rights for all
Readers' Forum
Deseret News
Originally published Monday, Jan. 12, 2009

What would you do if you were told that you and your family were second-class citizens, that you do not deserve the same advantages and privileges as mine? What would you do if I denied you vital access to health care? Laws that deny families and couples the same rights and privileges as socially legitimized ones disadvantage such families through unequal financial burdens, unequal protections for the family unit, and unequal protections for overall family health and prosperity within our society.

Do I deserve to be present when my partner dies? Should our household have the same protections of assets and death benefits as any other? Do my children deserve to have healthy parents, food, shelter and opportunity? Do not stand under a banner of religious righteousness and ignore the impact of disadvantaging so many. Survival in our society requires every advantage available. Do not impoverish me and then offer me food, do not inflict suffering upon me and expect me to accept your comfort. Give me the same rights afforded to others.

Shannon Candice Metzler
Salt Lake City
Don't legalize polygamy
Readers' Forum
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009

Shannon Metzler (Readers' Forum, Jan. 12) demands that people "not stand under a banner of religious righteousness" while denying same-sex marriages "the same rights afforded to others." I would like to explain why I oppose legalizing polygamous marriages: I think the government should encourage marriages in which a child has a father — not just a fraction of a father. I realize that many polygamous partners are fine people who undoubtedly love each other and that their marriages are better than many monogamous marriages. Similarly, for same-sex marriages.

Polygamists of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries never demanded that their marriages be legalized. They demand that they not be jailed and their children not be taken away because of their marriages. I wholeheartedly support these demands. The homosexual community has a persecution complex, which has served it well. A few years ago the New Jersey Supreme Court decided gay men had a constitutional right to be Boy Scoutmasters. Heterosexual men who would like to be Girl Scoutmasters need to get organized.

Robert Burton
Samuel L. Jackson Says Mormon Supporters of Prop 8 'Misinformed'
FOX News
Originally published Friday, January 30, 2009

Samuel L. Jackson is the latest Hollywood star to voice his opposition to the Mormon Church's support of Proposition 8.  At a video game event on Tuesday, Jackson weighed in on Tom Hanks' earlier comments that Mormon Prop 8 supporters were "un-American."  "I wouldn't go so far as to calling them un-American," Jackson told  "I'd just call them misinformed."  Hanks, an Executive Producer for HBO's controversial Utah-based polygamist series "Big Love," later apologized for his "un-American" comments.  "I labeled members of the Mormon church who supported California's Proposition 8 as 'un-American,'" the actor said in a statement.  "No one should use 'un-American' lightly or in haste. I did. I should not have."  Kim Farah, a spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, responded to Hanks' original statement, noting that "expressing an opinion in a free and democratic society is as American as it gets."  Proposition 8, passed during the November 4, 2008 general election, changed California's Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples.'s Hollie McKay contributed to this report.     See photo
Mormon church reports spending $180,000 on Proposition 8
By Jessica Garrison
Los Angeles Times
Originally published January 31, 2009

Top officials with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints filed reports Friday indicating that they donated more than $180,000 in in-kind contributions to Proposition 8, the November ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California.  The contributions included tens of thousands of dollars for expenses such as airline tickets, hotel and restaurant bills and car-rental bills for top church officials such as L. Whitney Clayton, along with $96,849.31 worth of "compensated staff time" for church employees.  The church said the expenditures took place between July 1 and the end of the year.  The church's involvement has been a major issue in the campaign and its aftermath.  Individual Mormon families donated millions -- by some estimates more than $20 million -- of their own money to the campaign.  On top of that, some Prop. 8 opponents say church officials violated election law by failing to file campaign disclosure reports outlining church funds being spent on the campaign.  Fred Karger, who filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission after the election alleging that church officials had not properly disclosed their involvement, said he thought today's filing proves that his complaint has merit.  "They said they reported all their travel ... now, when there is a [complaint filed] they disclose 25 Southwest tickets just in October," he said.  "They were required to report this" in an earlier filing, he said.  Church officials could not be reached for comment this evening.
LDS Church spent about $190,000 on Prop. 8 campaign
By Shane Goldmacher
McClatchy Newspapers
Mormon Times
Originally published Monday, Feb. 2, 2009

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Mormon church has revealed in a campaign filing that the church spent nearly $190,000 to help pass Proposition 8, the November ballot measure that banned gay marriage in California.  The disclosure comes amid an investigation by the state's campaign watchdog agency into whether The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints violated state laws by not fully disclosing its involvement during the campaign.  While many church members had donated directly to the Yes on 8 campaign -- some estimates of Mormon giving range as high as $20 million -- the church itself had previously reported little direct campaign activity.  But in the filing made Friday, the Mormon church reported thousands in travel expenses, such as airline tickets, hotel rooms and car rentals for the campaign. The church also reported $96,849.31 worth of "compensated staff time" -- hours that church employees spent working to pass the same-sex marriage ban.  Roman Porter, executive director of the FPPC, confirmed that the agency was investigating the complaint against the church but declined comment on specifics.  The Yes on 8 campaign filed its own expenditure reports over the weekend revealing that the main arm of the campaign spent more than $39.2 million.  Total spending among the various proponents topped $41 million.  Opponents of the measure had not filed their disclosure statement as of Saturday.  The deadline for year-end statements is midnight Monday.     Read more
Polygamists will learn to lobby the Legislature
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009

Proclaiming "we're families, not felons!" members of Utah's polygamous communities are becoming more politically active.  The pro-polygamy group Principle Voices is planning a day on Utah's Capitol Hill for its members to become familiar with the legislative process.  "Our bridge-building effort is to educate our own people and people outside our culture so we can communicate and understand each other better," Principle Voices' Anne Wilde said in an interview Wednesday with the Deseret News.  The Feb. 12 Legislative Education Day for Fundamentalist Mormon families will feature an orientation on how to lobby, a tour of the state capitol and the Legislature in session and a lunch.  Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Ric Cantrell, the chief deputy of the Utah Senate, will also speak to the crowd of about 100 people expected to attend.  "We want to facilitate an open dialogue between all Utah citizens and the government they live under, fund, and for which they are ultimately responsible. The cure for the ills of a democratic republic is even more of a democratic republic," Cantrell said Wednesday.  "Alienation is dangerous to all parties, and these families have experienced that danger firsthand. I hope the cross-cultural engagement can break down barriers and solve problems before they arise. The broader the understanding, the less potential for bigotry, demonization and the stupid, violent acts toward which the alienated — on both sides — are prone."     Read more
Utah polygamous groups learn to lobby lawmakers
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
The Farmington Daily Times - Farmington, New Mexico
Originally published February 12, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY — For decades, most Utah polygamists have preferred to live in independent isolation, separate from societies other than their own insular communities.  Mistrustful of government, they've avoided police and state agencies even when they've needed help and stayed silent when politicians passed laws to marginalize or restrict their way of life.  No more. On Thursday, more than 130 men, women and children from various polygamous groups were on Utah's Capitol Hill, learning first hand how to lobby state lawmakers and help shape the legislation that could either destroy or preserve their way of life.  "We love our country, we are proud Americans and we want to show the Legislature and government officials that we are good citizens," said Mary Batchelor, a co-founder of the advocacy group Principle Voices, which organized the training.  "We want to learn the process and know how to apply ourselves."  Batchelor and Anne Wilde, who both believe in polygamy but no longer practice it, could be called the mothers of the polygamist-as-lobbyist movement.  In 2001, they were among a dozen women who came to Capitol Hill to speak against a bill that would have made performing a plural marriage ceremony a felony.  They didn't stop the bill, but did persuade lawmakers to soften its language and reduce its penalty to a misdemeanor unless the bride was underage.  That effort kicked open a door between the polygamous culture and state government that had been long closed.     Read more
Polygamists at the Capitol proclaim: 'We're families, not felons!'
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009

Leslie Wayman raised her hand to ask a question.  "Will you please help us get the felony charge dropped?" the Bluffdale woman asked Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.  "I'm not a legislator," he told her, giving a long-winded explanation about bigamy laws and how past efforts have gone nowhere in the Utah State Legislature.  More than a hundred members of Utah's polygamous communities came to the state Capitol on Thursday to learn how to become more politically active, pushing for the common goal of decriminalizing polygamy.  Stepping out of the marginalization of society, husbands, wives, sister-wives and children crowded into the halls of power to defend their lifestyle and their families.  "I know in many ways this is quite a courageous stance," Anne Wilde of the pro-polygamy group Principle Voices told a crowded meeting room in the capitol.  For decades, polygamists have lived "out of sight, out of mind." Because bigamy is a felony in Utah, many communities isolated themselves from the outside world afraid of both religious persecution and criminal prosecution.  That isolation also allowed crimes against women and children to thrive, Shurtleff said, referring to his controversial polygamy prosecutions in recent years.  "My job is to enforce all laws," he told the crowd on Thursday.  "But we have to do it within the resources available to us and due to the number of practicing polygamists in this state, there was no way the state of Utah can go out and prosecute and incarcerate all of the adults who are living in a polygamous relationship."     Read more
County may pull out of Colorado City
Today's News-Herald - Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Originally published Monday, March 2, 2009

KINGMAN — Mohave County government apparently will be pulling up stakes in Colorado City.  The Mohave County Board of Supervisors voted Monday 2 to 1 in favor of vacating its government resource center at its the current location on the North Mohave Community College campus because of an expiring lease.  The resource center has been operating at the college location for five years and houses the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, Department of Economic Security Disability Division, public attorney services and Defenders of Children representatives.  The lease expires March 31.  Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson, R-Dist. 3 voted against vacating, while Chairman Sockwell, R-Dist. 2, and Supervisor Gary Watson, R-Dist. 1, voted in favor.  A move to seek a lease extension also died. The county currently has no plans to relocate within the city.  MCC Chancellor Michael Kearns, Watson and Ron Walker, county manager, previously met to discuss the issue of the lease, however, Walker said he was not informed of MCC's intentions at the time.  In that meeting, Walker also said he told Kearns county officials would require a written notice if MCC chose to not renew the lease.  Shortly after that meeting, the county received the written notice, he said.  "It is not MCC's problem. It is their property and we should respect the lease. We are not in a position to argue with the owner of the property," said Ron Walker, Mohave County manager.  "They did not ask to stay," Kearns said in an interview after the Monday's supervisors meeting.     Read more
Chavez set to retire
Superior Court judge says he still wants to work in Kingman
By Suzanne Adams
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published Friday, March 6, 2009

KINGMAN - After more than 25 years of service as an attorney and a judge in Mohave County, Superior Court Judge James Chavez has decided to hang up his robe.  "I'm retiring purely for financial reasons," he said.  He has reached the maximum amount on his retirement account.  "I would still like to work," he said, possibly as an attorney in the area where he grew up, Kingman.  Chavez has lived in Mohave County for most of his life. He was born in Kingman and graduated from Mohave County Union High School.  He left to attend the University of Arizona, graduating with a bachelors' degree in Nuclear Engineering in 1974 and then a master's degree a year later.  He then attended law school at and graduated from Stanford in 1978.  "I wanted to try something else," he said, referring to his switch to law.  "Besides, you don't see too many nuclear power plants around here."  He spent six years serving as an attorney in Colorado before returning home to Kingman.  In 1984, he was hired as the Kingman city attorney.  "I've seen substantial changes to the (Kingman) area. Too many to list," he said.  After serving six years as the city attorney, Chavez was appointed to judge pro-tempore in 1990 and then elected to the Division IV seat in 1992.  He served as presiding judge from 1992 to 2002 and was re-elected to his seat in 2006.  "As an attorney, you are only concerned with presenting one side of the facts in court," he said.  "As a judge, you have to see both sides of the facts, kind of like the referee at the basketball game."     Read more
Legislative panel to seek 'lessons learned' from FLDS raid
By Paul A. Anthony
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A select legislative subcommittee will review the April raid of the YFZ Ranch, looking at whether the historic and controversial action in Schleicher County points to changes that need to be made to the state's law regulating child removal.  The subcommittee, created by Dripping Springs Democrat Patrick Rose, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, will be chaired by Austin Democrat Elliott Naishtat and include among its members San Angelo Republican Drew Darby.  "What we're going to be looking at is the Child Protective Services statute to see whether there are any changes, any fine-tuning, any amendments that need to be offered ... that would be relevant to what transpired in Eldorado," Naishtat said Tuesday.  "We will also be looking at the procedure that was used by the Department of Family and Protective Services, and particularly Child Protective Services, to see what lessons can be learned for the future in how the department responded to the allegations of abuse and neglect."  CPS and law enforcement raided the polygamist compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints starting on April 3, removing 439 children in the subsequent days before being ordered to return them by state appellate courts.  The agency says it found hundreds of cases of abuse and neglect at the ranch, including 12 girls married at age 15 or younger to adult men.  But only one child remains in state custody, and all but two have been dropped from the case at the state's request.  A Schleicher County grand jury has indicted 12 FLDS members, including imprisoned sect leader Warren Jeffs, on charges relating to alleged sexual abuse of children.  Rose announced the formation of the committee to open Tuesday's meeting of the Human Services Committee, of which Darby, Naishtat and a fellow select subcommittee member, Houston Democrat Ana Hernandez, are a part.     Read more
County may relocate in Colorado City
Johnson: Supervisors must decide one way or the other
By Jayne Hanson
Today's News-Herald
Originally published Thursday, March 12, 2009

KINGMAN — The Mohave County Board of Supervisors will discuss relocating the multi-use government resource center to another area in Colorado City during their meeting Monday in Kingman.  "There needs to be an up or down vote. These people (FLDS women and children) need to know if we support them, or if we don't. We need to make a decision," said Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson, R-Dist. 1.  Johnson said he feels the county needs to make a stand to send a message to abused women and children tied to the polygamist lifestyle of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which has a strong presence in that community.  The message needs to be either the county cares about the abuses of women and children, or the county has no interest in their well being, Johnson said.  On March 2, Mohave County Board of Supervisors voted 2 to 1 in favor of vacating its government resource center's current location on the North Mohave Community College campus in Colorado City because of an expiring lease.  The contract was originally signed in April 2004 and ends April 1.  The resource center has been operating at the college location for five years and houses the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, Department of Economic Security Disability Division, public attorney services and Defenders of Children representatives.  MCC reported decreased student enrollment and timing to be the main reasons surrounding the school's decision not to renew the lease, according to MCC Chancellor Dr. Michael Kearns  Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan and Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith both expressed their desire to retain a presence in the Colorado City community at the March 2 supervisors' meeting.     Read more
County seeks new spot in Colorado City
By Jayne Hanson
Today's News-Herald
Originally published Monday, March 16, 2009

KINGMAN — Mohave County supervisors voted unanimously Monday to look for a new spot in Colorado City to relocate the multi-purpose facility given the boot earlier this month from its current location at the North Mohave Community College.  Mohave County Supervisor Gary Watson, R-Dist. 1, gave a second to the motion to vote for approval on condition the multi-use facility in Colorado City would include only county, state and federal functions.  "That means the nonprofit organization Defenders of Children will not be included," said Supervisor Buster Johnson, R-Dist. 3.  The reassurance of the county's multi-use center to remain in Colorado City was a victory in itself even at the cost of losing that one resource, Johnson said.  Discussion prior to the supervisors' decision was derailed from the relocation of the multi-purpose center and disintegrated to threats, allegations and accusations directed toward Mohave County law enforcement.  "The Colorado City multi-facility was brought in not to serve the people, but for a vindictive vendetta. We need law enforcement, we need government, but we need it with an element of help," said Willie Jessop, property owner in Colorado City and Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints member.  Jessop said county law enforcement has been abusing its power and has been downright rude while doing it.  He claimed it is the reason the FLDS lean toward a closed society way of life.     Read more
Quest to legalise polygamy in Utah
Humphrey Hawksley
From Our Own Correspondent
BBC News - UK
Originally broadcast Saturday, 21 March 2009

Some 40,000 people in the US state of Utah live in illegal polygamous families in which a man takes more than one wife.  These fundamentalist Mormons have now begun a campaign for a change in the law they regard as discriminatory and unfair.  Humphrey Hawksley met some of the families involved.  "All right everyone, listen up," shouted Kody Brown, brushing his shoulder-length hair clear of his face.  He put both hands out in front of him, pointing towards 12 children aged between four and 14 gathered around a square table in the middle of a huge kitchen.  Six were on one end. One all alone in the middle and five with their mother stood at the other end.  "Those belonging to Janelle identify yourselves," instructed Kody who is 41.  Six pairs of hands shot up with screams of "wahoo".  "And the child belonging to Meri," said Kody.  Thirteen-year-old Mariah raised her hand.  "Now Christine's kids," said Kody.  A show of five pairs of hands with a loud "wahoo" from everyone including Christine herself, one of Kody Brown's three wives.  The other two were out at work.     Read more
A year after sect raid, changes in laws sought
Proposed legislation would increase statute of limitations for bigamy, change rules for child abuse investigations.
By Corrie MacLaggan
Marshall News Messenger - Marshall, Texas
Originally published Friday, April 3, 2009

A year after a massive child welfare raid at a West Texas ranch run by a polygamist sect, some legislators want to rewrite the laws that guided the state's actions during an investigation into whether young girls there were being forced to marry older men.  Disturbed by news images of hundreds of children being separated from their mothers, some lawmakers are seeking to clarify when the state should remove suspected perpetrators of child abuse and neglect from their homes — rather than remove the children.  And to address the issue of minors being forced into plural marriages, they're considering extending the statute of limitations for bigamy.  Looking back, lawmakers say the state simply had no blueprint for how to handle what Texas officials have said was the largest removal of children in U.S. history.  "Our existing laws were not envisioned to accommodate this large of an incident," said state Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo.  Meanwhile, members of the breakaway Mormon sect say that the proposed laws are part of a continued effort to target their religion and way of life.  "It's like saying, 'Let's pass certain laws that only apply to blacks, or only apply to Hispanics,'" said Willie Jessop, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, has filed a bill that would, among other things, enhance criminal penalties for failing to report child abuse or neglect — a response to allegations by a grand jury that a sect doctor delivered babies of underage girls but did not report sexual abuse.  Hilderbran said that the proposal is about protecting children and is not intended to drive the sect out of Texas.  "However, if that's what happens, that's not a bad outcome," Hilderbran said.  "The polygamy lifestyle does not fit Texas values."     Read more
County's search for land in Colorado City stirs controversy
Residents from town, judge from Moccasin air concerns at BOS meeting
By Suzanne Adams
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published Wednesday, April 22, 2009

KINGMAN - Mohave County's search for a new county services building in the Arizona Strip area continues to stir controversy.  The Board of Supervisors heard concerns from two Colorado City residents and a Moccasin Justice Court judge Monday morning against the sale of property to county and co-locating the Mohave County Justice Court with other county and state offices within Colorado City.  The county's lease on a parcel of land owned by Mohave Community College expired on April 1 and the college decided not to renew the lease.  The county now has six months to remove a mobile trailer that houses offices for the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, the Arizona Department of Economic Safety, the County Attorney's Office and the Arizona Attorney General's Office, along with a non-profit organization called Defenders of the Children.  County Public Works Director Mike Hendrix updated county supervisors on the search for a new property during Monday's Board meeting.  The county was originally looking at eight properties in the Arizona Strip area.  Staff was able to narrow the selection down to three.  All three lots are more than acre in size.  Two of the lots are located in Colorado City and the third is in Fredonia.  The lots are selling for between $26,000 and $30,000.  However, the county would probably have to invest more than $50,000 in the Fredonia lot in order to upgrade the water system and install a sewer or septic system.     Read more
Bennett already faces challengers within his own party
The Spectrum
Originally published Sunday, May 17, 2009

We have more than a year to go before the Nov. 2, 2010, general election.  But it looks like Utah Republicans already have some choices to make in the U.S. Senate race that will culminate that day.  Sen. Robert Bennett has said that he intends to seek his fourth six-year term in office.  During his time in the Senate, he has helped pass a revised Washington County Lands Bill that had the rare trait of appealing to pro-growth and environmental groups alike.  He has worked to bring high-speed Internet and better business practices to rural communities and served in numerous leadership roles on committees and subcommittees.  He introduced legislation aimed at fixing the pending problems with Social Security funding, and in the past week he successfully engineered a delay in the confirmation of an Interior Department official because of a dispute over oil and natural gas leases in Utah.  But some Republicans think he's strayed too far from the conservative base, particularly on fiscal issues.  And he already has two big-named opponents.  Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced this week, albeit accidentally, via the social networking software Twitter that he intends to run against Bennett for the Republican nomination.  Also last week, Tim Bridgewater announced that he was forming an exploratory committee so that he could raise money and gauge support.  By announcing so early that they intend to run for the GOP nomination, both Shurtleff and Bridgewater are giving members of their party a few things to think about.     Read more
County finds new property in Colorado City
By Jayne Hanson
Today's News-Herald - Lake Havasu City, AZ
Originally published May 18, 2009

KINGMAN — The Mohave County Board of Supervisors selected a Colorado City property Monday that could possibly be the new site for the county multi-use facility left homeless earlier this year after Mohave Community College chose not to renew the previous land lease agreement.  Moccasin Consolidated Court is now entwined with the relocation in question and there is a possibility the design and construction of a new court could include a handful of agencies under one roof to accommodate the county sheriff's and county attorney's offices.  During a discussion prior to the vote, Deputy County Manager for Development and Public Works Services Mike Hendrix said 15 Realtors were consulted in regard to searching for properties suited for the relocation or possible construction of a new building to house the Mohave County Sheriff's Department, Mohave County Attorney, and new judicial system currently operating as Moccasin Consolidated Court.  Several properties located in areas including Scenic, Beaver Dam, Littlefield, Fredonia and Colorado City were recently considered for a potential location, Hendrix said.  The supervisors voted unanimously for further investigation into a suitable property located one mile south of Colorado City situated very near Colorado City Municipal Airport.  "It (Colorado City property) was proposed as a donation," Hendrix said.  The property's "fatal flaw" is in regard to utilities and DSL service that may not be readily available, and are necessary for the sheriff's and county attorney's offices operations, he said.     Read more
Shurtleff: Child bride polygamous marriages appear to have stopped
By Ben Winslow
KSl NewsRadio
Originally published July 14, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said he believes the practice of so-called "child bride" marriages within polygamous societies has been halted.  "I'm quite confident that the practice of child-bride marriages has effectively stopped in this state," he said in an interview Tuesday with KSL NewsRadio.  Shurtleff said to date, his office has had no direct evidence that any underage marriages are being performed in the polygamous communities within the state.  "It doesn't mean it hasn't," he said.  "We will still look."  In the interview with KSL NewsRadio, Shurtleff stopped short of saying the practice had been eradicated, but he said they have managed to get several polygamous churches to say they will not perform marriages of anyone under 18. That is in part due to a child bigamy law passed by the Utah State Legislature that makes such marriages a felony.  Indeed, the leaders of many of Utah's largest polygamous communities have gone on record saying they will no longer perform such marriages.  Some denounced the practice outright.  "That has been a big step," said Anne Wilde of the pro-polygamy group Principle Voices.  "That publicly, the leaders have said they are not going to perform any underage marriages or encourage them."  Wilde said the majority of polygamists in Utah do not perform underage marriages.  "The other ones, I think they just realized that if they are going to hold up their head in society that they needed to conform," she told KSL NewsRadio.     Read more
Hildale plans to fill council vacancy
Local News In Brief
The Spectrum
Originally published August 26, 2009

HILDALE - The Hildale City Council will consider an appointment to fill a vacancy on the city council at a special council meeting Sept. 1.  The meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m. at the City Hall, 320 E. Newel Ave.  The appointment will be for the office vacated until January.  Anyone interested in being considered for the appointment may submit their name for consideration to Mayor David Zitting at the town hall no later than Monday at 5 p.m.  To have your name considered for the appointment, the person must be a registered voter in Hildale and meet all the requirements of a registered voter and must maintain residency within the boundaries of Hildale during the term of office.
A legislative session full of frustration
Q&A: House Minority Leader David Lujan
By Amy B Wang
The Arizona Republic
Originally published Sept. 20, 2009

For Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, his longtime love for the legislative process was always tempered by a tendency to shy away from the spotlight.  For nearly two decades, the Arizona native got his political fix by working behind the scenes at the state Capitol: as a page, an intern, a member of the Senate staff.  Becoming an elected official didn't enter Lujan's thoughts until a friend urged him to run for president of the Phoenix Union High School District school board in 2002.  (He spent $75 on his campaign and won.) The experience shifted his perspective.  "I liked being able to actually having an opinion on things," Lujan said.  "I could actually make a difference . . . and that led to running for Legislature."  Now in his fifth year as a state representative, Lujan is the House minority leader.  The National Association of Social Workers recently recognized him as Arizona's public elected official of the year for his work on polygamy issues.  We talked with Lujan about those projects, the state budget and his goals.

Question: Let's talk about the anti-polygamy bill.

Answer: It stems from my work in the non-profit agency I work with, Defenders of Children. We do work with some of the women and children seeking to leave some of the abusive situations in Colorado City.

A lot of the cases we deal with are custody cases - in our experience, long, protracted custody battles. We started about three years ago to make it easier for the mother to win custody if there's evidence that the father is engaged in child bigamy.     Read more
Shurtleff Meets Behind Closed Doors With Polygamous Leader
Reported by: Brian Mullahy
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Friday, Sep 25, 2009

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff met for more than a half hour behind closed doors Friday with FLDS leader Willie Jessop.  The meeting occurred at Snowbird, where a conference spearheaded by a pro-polygamy group, was being held.  The gathering is entitled, "Family or Felony? Polygamy and the Law."  A face to face session between Shurtleff and Jessop might have seemed unlikely not long ago.  Shurtleff reportedly bypassed a sit down with Jessop months ago when the polygamous leader flew to Utah from Texas, where hundreds of FLDS kids had been taken from their families, out of concerns of possible abuse.  The children have since been returned to relatives.  We'll have more on the conference coming up tonight on 2News at 5 and 6pm on KUTV.     See photo
Polygamists Seek Decriminalization Of Their Lifestyle
Family Or Felony? Conference Brings Polygamists, Prosecutors Together To Talk About Controversial Topic
By Ben Winslow
FOX 13 News
Originally broadcast September 27, 2009

SNOWBIRD - Members of Utah's polygamous communities want to see their lifestyle decriminalized.  But it appears prosecutors are reluctant to take any such case to court.  During a conference Friday on polygamy and the law, representatives from the Utah Attorney General's Office, defense attorneys and pro-polygamy activists met at Snowbird to talk about decriminalization and other issues.  Christine Brown, a plural wife and member of the Bluffdale-based Apostolic United Brethren, said she was not afraid to sit in the same room as Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.  "It doesn't make me nervous at all because the attorney general, he specifically says as long as there are no child-bride marriages, as long as there's no child abuse, he's not going to prosecute," she told Fox 13 News.  That's the problem, pro-polygamy activists say.  The Utah Attorney General's Office has declined to prosecute a case of polygamy alone, citing resource issues of building prisons for tens of thousands of polygamists and creating an enormous burden on the welfare system to care for their wives and children.  "For the last 10 years, we've stated that when it's truly consensual adults, that our limited resources, it wouldn't make much sense to go after those kind of cases," said Kirk Torgensen, the chief deputy Utah Attorney General.     Read more
Arizona Strip residents look to recall judge
By Suzanne Adams
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published Friday, October 23, 2009

BEAVER DAM - A group of residents in the Virgin River area in northern Arizona are starting an effort to recall Moccasin Consolidated Court Judge Mitchell Kalauli.  A meeting to discuss the idea is slated for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Beaver Dam Elementary School gymnasium, 3436 E. Rio Virgin Road, Beaver Dam.  Paperwork for the recall petitions was picked up from the county election office this week and will be available to sign at the meeting.  Some of the residents in the area are upset about statements Kalauli made while the Board of Supervisors was considering where to put a new consolidated court in the Arizona Strip area.  "It seems that the judge is operating in his own self-interest and not in the interest of the taxpayers and residents of Mohave County," stated resident Annie Black in an e-mail announcing the meeting.  The Board received two donations of land in the Arizona Strip area for the new courthouse.  The first property, donated by the Adair family, is located near Colorado City.  The second property, donated by the Black family, is in the Beaver Dam area.  The Blacks also donated $50,000 and a well toward the construction of the courthouse in Beaver Dam.  Kalauli argued that the court should be placed near Colorado City in the middle of the Arizona Strip instead of in the Beaver Dam/Virgin River area.  Supervisor Buster Johnson argued that the court should be placed in the Beaver Dam/Virgin River area because it was the mostly likely area to see a population growth in the future.     Read more
Defending Arizona Judge
Letter to the Editor
Mesquite Local News - Mesquite, Nevada
Originally published November 4, 2009

This letter is directed to all those who want a recall campaign to have Judge Mitchell Kalauli removed from the bench in Mohave County.  How many of you have witnessed this fine judge in action on the bench?  I have had that honor several times, as a witness and as a parent.  The majority of the defendants in his courtroom have been from the Colorado City area.  Judge Kalauli is concerned for the victims and the rehabilitation of defendants and not the almighty buck.  His sentences are creative, fair and life changing.  I have seen him teach passive parents of out of control minors lessons that they won't soon forget.  In one instance, the minor was charged with curfew violation and consumption.  The judge sentenced the young man to house arrest for 60 days.  If the minor was to be outside the house, even in the yard, he was to be tethered to a parent.  This sentence taught the parents to know where their children are at all times and imagine the embarrassment of a teenage boy having to be tied, by the wrist, to his parent just to go to the grocery store.  In another instance, he sentenced a "superior to women" (obviously polygamist) young man to do the dinner dishes and the laundry for his large family for 60 days; woman's work.     Read more
Bullhead City's Weiss named presiding judge
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Monday, January 18, 2010

KINGMAN - A Mohave County Superior Court judge from Bullhead City was chosen as the new presiding judge.  Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch appointed Superior Court Judge Richard Weiss, 54, as the new presiding judge.  Weiss who commutes to Kingman's Division 6 court replaces Judge Randy Bartlett who is stepping down as presiding judge as of Jan. 31, but will remain on the bench in Lake Havasu City.  Bartlett took over as presiding judge from former Judge Robert Moon in February 2005.  The presiding judge handles the administration duties of the Superior Court including the court's budget, personnel and most recently handled the search for a new Moccasin Court in the Colorado City area.  Presiding Superior Court judges serve five-year terms.  Weiss, who grew up in upstate New York, graduated with a bachelor's degree from Northern Arizona University in 1977 and a law degree from NAU in 1980.  His term will expire at the end of January 2012.  In 2004, former Gov. Janet Napolitano appointed Weiss to sit on the bench in the newly established Division 6 serving as presiding juvenile judge.  He had been the pro-tempore judge since 1998 hearing criminal and juvenile cases.  Weiss handles mainly juvenile dependency and delinquency cases.  Juvenile cases are more geared to rehabilitation rather than punishments that adult defenders face.  Weiss still handles about a dozen adult criminal cases left over before he was the presiding juvenile judge.  Most of the cases are probation violation hearings.     Read more
Moss files for justice of the peace race
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Thursday, January 21, 2010

KINGMAN - A Bullhead City lawyer joins the 2010 race for justice of the peace in that city's justice court.  Two candidates have recently filed to run for seats on the bench in justice courts.  Bullhead City lawyer Jon Moss filed petitions to run against Bullhead City Justice of the Peace Thomas Brady.  Moccasin Justice of the Peace Mitchell Kalauli also filed a petition to run for another term.  Kalauli joins Kingman Justice of the Peace Rick Lambert, Cerbat Justice of the Peace John Taylor and Lake Havasu City Justice of the Peace Jill Wachtel Davis for another term as lower court justices.  Moccasin Justice Court also is in the process of moving from Fredonia to Colorado City after approval in November from the county supervisors.  Superior Court Division 3 Judge Steven Conn, Division 1 Judge Charles Gurtler Jr, Division 2 Judge Randy Bartlett, Division 4 Judge Lee Jantzen and Division 6 Judge Richard Weiss are all running for re-election.  Weiss was recently appointed presiding judge for Superior Court.  Division 5 Judge Rick Williams, of Bullhead City, won his election in November 2008 and is serving a four-year term on the bench.  Williams replaced Robert Moon who stepped down from the bench at the end of December 2008.     Read more
Ariz. lawmakers try again with anti-polygamy legislation
By Melanie Kiser
Cronkite News Service
The Arizona Republic
Originally published Jan. 25, 2010

A loophole in Arizona's law against incest handcuffs officials wanting to crack down on polygamists who marry relatives under age 18, according to two state lawmakers.  Sen. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, and Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, thwarted last session when they co-sponsored legislation on the issue, have introduced separate bills to make the incest law apply when victims are minors.  The law currently defines incest as between adults.  Paton's bill, SB 1061, which received a unanimous endorsement Monday from the Senate Judiciary Committee, would make incest with a minor a Class 2 or Class 3 felony, carrying sentences ranging from two and a half years to 10 years, depending on whether the child is 15 or older or younger than 15.  Paton said the "quirk in the law" became glaringly apparent in the prosecution of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs in Mohave County.  In 2008, a Superior Court judge dismissed four counts against Jeffs involving marriages allegedly arranged between two underage girls and their adult half-cousins, citing the wording of the incest law.  Jeffs still faces four other counts alleging that he acted as an accomplice in sexual misconduct with a minor.  Assistant Attorney General Tim Linnins, who specializes in cases out of Colorado City, told the committee that based on the way the law is written a polygamist is better off marrying a relative under 18.  In a telephone interview, Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith said the change would make it easier to combat polygamy involving relatives.  "If you have a 40-year-old and a 12-year-old, it's not incest, as absurd as that might seem," he said.     Read more
UPDATE: Medina questions need for state CPS
Robert T. Garrett/Reporter
The Dallas Morning News
Originally published Mon, Mar 01, 2010

Wharton political activist Debra Medina has questioned whether Texas needs a state child welfare agency.  Medina, a Republican candidate for governor, suggested over the weekend that the state perhaps hand off child-protection duties to local law enforcement agencies closer to the people.  That would mean abolishing Child Protective Services, which after suffering some budget cuts in the mid-1990s has grown rapidly under Gov. Rick Perry, in response to criticisms it was failing the state's most vulnerable youngsters and needed more caseworkers and support staff.  "Why is CPS a state agency? Could that be handled by the police department or sheriff's office?" Medina (above right/AP photo) said during a campaign stop in Wichita Falls on Saturday, according to a story in the Wichita Falls Times-Record News.  Medina said child abuse is a criminal offense and those agencies know the community and the law.  "It's a discussion that can be had," she said.  UPDATE: Medina spokeswoman clarifies candidate's position.  See the jump.  State law requires joint investigations by CPS and local law enforcement when a child may be at "immediate risk of physical or sexual abuse" that "could result in the death of or serious harm to the child."  But CPS on its own handles the more frequent cases of low-grade, if chronic, neglect or abuse -- physical or emotional -- of youngsters.  Last year, CPS' 8,600 employees looked into 253,000 tips to its child-abuse hotline.  Of them, 63 percent were "priority 2," meaning not of the most criticially urgent type.  CPS has 72 hours to respond to them.  Does Medina really want police officers and sheriff's deputies to have to handle all of the 159,000 cases a year that fall into that "priority 2" category?     Read more
Abbott assails government's reach
By Trish Choate
Times Record News - Wichita Falls, Texas
Originally published March 2, 2010

WASHINGTON — On the eve of Texas primaries, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was in Washington firing away at the federal government over issues close to many conservative Texans' hearts: states' rights, individual liberties, gun rights and perceived federal government power grabs in health care and environmental regulation.  Abbott, a native Wichitan, invoked the names of former President Ronald Reagan and Thomas Jefferson during an outline of his conservative agenda Monday, speaking to a packed room at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington bastion of conservatism.  "We, the people, are tired of federal government intruding too deeply into our lives, trampling the liberties that have been guaranteed to us by the United States Constitution," said Abbott, who is unopposed in the Republican primary but possibly harbors aspirations for higher office.  While in town, he also discussed Texas government actions against polygamist sect members at the Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado.  But first, he took aim at an "individual mandate" in a health-care reform bill being floated in Congress.  "This mandate is unprecedented in American history," Abbott told an audience of like-minded folks such as a representative from the Institute for Limited Government.  The proposal calls for Americans to have or to buy health-care coverage. Otherwise, they might face tax penalties.  The proposal oversteps constitutional limits on the federal government, Abbott said.  Congress is on notice that legal challenges are in the offing if the individual mandate isn't dropped.     Read more
Freelance reporter John Dougherty seeks U.S. Senate seat
Ex-New Times staffer jumps into race for Democratic nomination
Election 2010
By Dylan Smith
Tucson Sentinel
Originally published April 30, 2010

The Phoenix New Times reports that a former staffer, John Dougherty, has filed to run for the U.S. Senate.

Dougherty, a reporter who has freelanced for the New York Times and others since leaving the Valley tabloid in 2006, will join Rodney Glassman and Randy Parraz in seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat now held by John McCain.

Says the New Times:
"This will be a great exercise in the regular folks standing up and saying, 'Enough of this bullshit,'" Dougherty says. "We're going to try to make the debate more than just about rounding up people and tossing them back across the border and thinking that will solve everything, including our economic crisis."

For more than two decades, Dougherty expose the misdeeds of those in power -- including the infamous Keating 5 (of which Senator John McCain was a 'member'), J. Fife Symington III (then the governor of Arizona), Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.
Read more
Alt-Weekly Reporter Tilts at an Arizona Windmill
By Jerre Wroble
Salt Lake City Weekly
Originally published May 6, 2010

John Dougherty, a former staff writer for the alt-weekly Phoenix New Times, has launched a grass-roots campaign in Arizona to round up signatures to put his name on the Democratic ballot, with the ultimate goal of running against U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Until he retired from New Times in 2006, Dougherty (shown to the right with his two sons) delivered award-winning investigative features about political and religious leaders of the West, including polygamist FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. His groundbreaking coverage of the polygamous Colorado City/Hildale communities could fill volumes.

Polygamy aside, Dougherty is well-versed in the issues of the American West and could bring a reporter's insight to vexing issues such as immigration and ethics reform. His reporting career showed early promise with his 1989 story on the Charles Keating scandal, which nearly sank John McCain's political ambitions. Then, while working for the Dayton Daily News, Dougherty revealed how financier Charles Keating gave five senators -- including Arizona's John McCain -- trips and donations in exchange for their help in relaxing regulations on the savings and loans industry. If Dougherty's ballot dream is miraculously realized, the Keating 5 scandal could raise its head again.     Read more
Reporter throws hat into ring for McCain's Senate seat
By Mike Sunnucks
Phoenix Business Journal
Originally published Friday, May 7, 2010

Investigative reporter John Dougherty is running for U.S. Senate.  He is running as a Democrat for the seat now held by U.S. Sen. John McCain.  Dougherty was a longtime investigative reporter for the Phoenix New Times.  He covered the trials and resignation of former Gov. Fife Symington, the Mormon polygamist sect in Colorado City, Ariz., Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the "Keating Five" episode, which involved Phoenix savings and loan executive Charles Keating, McCain and others.  Dougherty was set to formally launch his campaign today in Phoenix.  Former Tucson Vice Mayor Rodney Glassman also is running in the Democratic primary.  Former Scottsdale Congressman J.D. Hayworth is taking on McCain in the GOP primary.  McCain is seeking a fifth term in the Senate.  For more, click here.
Duo didn't wed, but they did divorce
Utah ruling applies to couple who split 37 years after 'marriage'
By Linda Thomson
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, May 7, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah Supreme Court ruling issued Friday could open a door to recognition of gay marriage, polygamy and underage marriage in Utah, an attorney says.  Denver Snuffer believes the ruling about a divorce decree will have wide-ranging and unintended implications for the concept of marriage.  But his opponent, attorney Rosemond Blakelock, whose client won under the ruling, says such a belief is poppycock.  She said the high court's decision will apply only in a very narrow fashion to one Utah couple and perhaps a few others who are in the same situation, but she predicts this ruling will not produce the "wild things" that Snuffer fears and will not influence unions that do not already exist under state law.  The Utah Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ruled that a 4th District judge who issued a divorce decree to Neldon and Ina Johnson in 2001 did have the authority to do that.  The Johnsons had lived together for 37 years, had children and represented to the outside world that they were a married couple — even though they were never legally married.  The couple set out to be wed in 1964, but car trouble prevented them from going through with an Arizona ceremony.  They came home days later and told friends and family they indeed had gotten married.  The couple even had their "marriage" sealed in the LDS Manti Temple one year after their supposed wedding date.  Ina Johnson sought a divorce and both sides agreed in 2001 on a $2.8 million property settlement under which Neldon Johnson would pay Ina Johnson $8,333 per month.  However, since then Neldon Johnson has not paid alimony and has filed repeated challenges to the divorce decree, which all have been denied, according to the high court's ruling.     Read more
Meet U.S. Senate Candidate John Dougherty
By Jim Nintzel
Tucson Weekly
Originally published June 1, 2010

Investigative reporter John Dougherty, one of four Democrats running for U.S. Senate this year, will be at Hotel Congress from 7 to 9 p.m. this Thursday, June 3.  Here's the release from Dougherty's campaign:
U.S. Senate Democratic candidate John Dougherty takes his campaign to unseat John McCain to Tucson Thursday to rally Southern Arizona supporters at the Hotel Congress in Tucson.

"We don't have time for the politics of fear," said Dougherty, who promises to initiate fact-based solutions to America's problems, from environmental collapse to immigration reform to paying for two wars overseas.

As one of America's premier investigative journalists, Dougherty has served the public by exposing corruption and holding Arizona's most powerful politicians and government agencies accountable for more than 25 years.

His investigations and articles have played a major role in shaping Arizona's political history. At the Dayton Daily News in 1989, he uncovered the Keating Five scandal, prompting a congressional investigation that nearly ended Sen. McCain's career during his first Senate term. In 2004, Dougherty reported on the bootlegging roots of McCain's wife's family liquor business.
    Read more
Lujan makes campaign stops in Kingman, BHC
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Friday, June 11, 2010

KINGMAN — An Arizona representative was in Kingman and Bullhead City on Thursday campaigning to be the next state Attorney General.  David Lujan has been a state Representative from District 15 since 2004.  He also worked four years for then-Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano.  He prosecuted identity theft, foreclosure and mortgage fraud and consumer fraud targeting seniors.  Lujan said as the state's highest level prosecutor he would enforce the recently passed immigration law but said the law is not the solution.  He would focus on going after drug cartels, money laundering rings and other criminal syndicates.  The law also would discourage witnesses from coming forward to help law enforcement in fighting crime.  He said he would ask the federal government to step up in securing the border.  He also is an attorney with the Defenders of Children, a nonprofit organization that protects children from child abuse.  The organization had an office in Mohave County's building in Colorado City.  "The issues of Colorado City are issues I am very familiar with," he said.  Lujan said he proposed a bill that would include children under the age of 18 in an incest law that currently only applies to adults.  Prosecutors had to drop incest charges last year against Warren Jeffs because the current law does not apply to children.  He said Republican legislators have done nothing to help pass his law.  He also said Jeffs' defense attorneys have dragged Jeffs' criminal case out for more than two years to wear down the victims.     Read more
AG candidate sees role as educator, protector
By Suzanne Adams
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published June 15, 2010

KINGMAN - Protecting and educating the residents of Arizona about fraud and ID theft is the main reason why Democrat David Lujan is running for attorney general this year.  Lujan is a former assistant attorney general and worked under both Janet Napolitano and current Attorney General Terry Goddard.  "Both Napolitano and Goddard have done an outstanding job protecting the state and its citizens. I plan to continue that service," Lujan said.  His main concern is educating Arizonans, especially seniors, of some of the tricks unscrupulous people are using to get their hard-earned money.  Some of the latest include mortgage fraud and organizations posing as charities.  "The economy is hard enough without people having to worry about predators trying to steal their money," he said.  "Arizonans should never have to worry about losing their homes, savings or peace of mind to a thief, especially in these trying economic times."  Lujan especially wants to reach out to residents who live in rural areas such as Mohave County.  "I want to take this outside of Maricopa County, to the big rural areas and work with the local law enforcement to prevent and track down some of these crimes," he said.  Lujan is familiar with working with rural law enforcement.  As a member of Defenders of Children, he has worked extensively with Mohave County law enforcement and other departments on helping the residents of Colorado City and Hildale, Utah, combat both adult and child abuse.  He has also helped train more than a 1,000 attorneys and law enforcement officers in the signs of abuse and co-authored a guide to child protection services.  "It's not surprising that the charges (against Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints leader Warren Jeffs) were dismissed. When they lost the witnesses, they lost the case," he said.  It's hard to get witnesses to testify about the abuse they may have seen or experienced, Lujan said.     Read more
David Lujan's focus: Economic security, public safety
The Arizona Republic
Originally published June 21, 2010

David Lujan talks about his campaign for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General.

1. As you complete your service as a legislator, what do you view as your biggest accomplishments?

Serving as the leader of a unified Democratic caucus that fought to bring back KidsCare health insurance for 40,000 Arizona children; getting legislation passed to protect victims of identity theft and domestic violence; and working with Attorney General Terry Goddard to stop abuses occurring in the polygamous community of Colorado City.

2. Why are you running for attorney general?

Arizonans are struggling during these difficult economic times, becoming victims of businesses that take advantage of them during their most vulnerable times and living in fear because of drug cartels and other violent criminals that are making Arizona the kidnapping capital of the nation. As your attorney general, I will make the economic security and public safety of Arizonans my top priority.     Read more
Dem Senate candidate visits Havasu
TODAY'S NEWS-HERALD - Havasu, Arizona
Originally published June 22, 2010

John Dougherty thinks Lake Havasu City is tired of its current state government and is hoping they're ready for a Democratic candidate for the Senate.  Dougherty, a former investigative journalist, made a campaign stop Monday for the opening of the Lake Havasu City Democratic headquarters.  Dougherty is looking to unseat Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., this November and hopes his journalism experience, covering McCain, Warren Jeffs in Colorado City and other prominent Arizona names, will give him an edge over the other three Democratic candidates in the August primary.  "All of these issues combined put me in a rare position as a candidate to have a strong overview of what's going on in Arizona on a deep level on multiple topics," Dougherty told the dozens of attendees Monday.  "The second thing was, as McCain ran further to the right, after his flip-flopping presidential campaign, he tried to outdo (former congressman) JD Hayworth. And JD Hayworth is pretty hard to outdo on the right. I felt McCain had basically abandoned his leadership role completely in the last couple of months as he's done that. ... So I talked to top Democratic Party leaders and there was no one, I felt, with sufficient experience in Arizona to give McCain or Hayworth a strong challenge in the fall."  Dougherty is focusing on renewable energy, which is his campaign's centerpiece, immigration reform and campaign finance reform.  "We need a renewable energy-based economy. And the sooner we accept it and embrace it, the better. It's going to save us money, provide for more jobs, protect the environment and it will be good for our children and our economy," he said.  "If we deny doing this, we're going to fall behind and not be the dominant nation in the world at the end of this century."     Read more
Reporting as Senate preparation
Investigative work is great training for office, hopeful says
By Andrea Kelly
Arizona Daily Star - Tucson, Arizona
Originally published Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Former investigative journalist John Dougherty says his years of digging up facts and records to cover stories about government and corruption have prepared him to be Arizona's next U.S. senator.  In a speech Monday at a Democrats of Greater Tucson luncheon, Dougherty said his work uncovering the Keating Five scandal; former Gov. Fife Symington's real estate troubles, which later led to his resignation; sexual-abuse allegations against Warren Jeffs at his polygamist community; and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's alleged abuses of power were "fantastic training to move into the Senate."  Dougherty is one of four Dem-ocrats seeking the Aug. 24 primary nomination to face the Republican nominee in November.  He said he will use facts to hold the government accountable, just as he did as a journalist.  Among the issues he said he cares most about:
  • Getting big industry interests out of lawmaking, from better regulating many industries to rewriting campaign finance laws to mirror Arizona's Clean Elections laws.

  • Reducing the federal deficit, the "most important issue facing the country right now," including Defense Department spending.

  • Federal immigration reform including a path to citizenship that is not a free pass, but which allows people who have been working in America to pay fines, learn English and become documented.

  • Requiring renewable energy and eliminating subsidies for oil and other industries.
    Read more
Judge Tauro's questionable past
By Charles Lane
Washington Post
Originally published July 9, 2010

Judge Joseph Tauro's opinions striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act may or may not be good constitutional law. I'll leave that complex matter to others. But as works of history, they are puzzlingly incomplete.

In ruling DOMA unconstitutional partly because it intrudes on what he calls the states' "exclusive" authority to define marriage, Tauro glosses over an issue with which the federal government was obsessed for most of the 19th Century and even part of the 20th: polygamy, particularly as practiced by Mormons in the western territories.

Tauro notes, accurately enough, that Congress historically deferred to state laws regarding common law marriage and divorce, as well as restrictions regarding interracial marriage, "hygiene," and age at marriage -- despite often-furious controversies.

But Mormon polygamy, like southern slavery, converted the territories into an arena of national moral conflict that inescapably involved all three branches of the federal government -- beginning with President James Buchanan's ill-fated dispatch of U.S. troops to install a non-Mormon governor in the Utah Territory in 1857.
Read more
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff appears on this week's "On the Record"
Reported by: Chris Vanocur
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast July 30, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is this week's guest on "On the Record."  Shurtleff will discuss several immigration issues: his investigation into "The List" of suspected illegal immigrants, Arizona's new immigration law and the what the attorney general is hearing from Utahns about this issue.  He also talks about his reaction to the Warren Jeffs ruling from the state supreme court.  The court reversed Jeffs' convictions and sent the case back to the trial court in Washington County.  "On the Record" airs Sunday morning at 8 on ABC 4.     See photo
David Lujan
Arizona Politics
East Valley Tribune
Originally published August 3, 2010

I have spent my life as a tireless advocate for children and families. As a prosecutor, an Assistant Attorney General, and House Minority Leader, I have gotten real results for all Arizonans.

Fighting for Victims

An Arizona native, I work for the non-profit Defenders of Children, which serves children and adults who are victims of abuse. As Defenders' staff attorney, I fight to ensure that abused kids are removed from violent situations and placed with qualified, caring relatives or foster parents. I also work with victims of the polygamist sect in Colorado City, helping women and children to escape abuse. I have carried my passion for victims to the state legislature, where I fight for legislation to help abused children and victims of domestic violence.

I began my legal career as an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board, where I enforced our nation's laws protecting workers' rights. In one of my first cases, I sued a Laughlin casino on behalf of several workers who had been fired for organizing a union. I won back their jobs, including back pay, and protected their right to organize. I then joined the Attorney General's office as an Assistant Attorney General, where I prosecuted school officials who had used school funds to take vacations or remodel their homes. I also help to oversee a $1.4 billion school construction program to fix crumbling schools and ensure that every child went to class in a safe, healthy environment.     Read more
Media Celebrates Prop. 8 Ruling — but Where's the Live Shot from Colorado City?
By Ron Futrell
Big Journalism
Originally published August 5, 2010

Proposition 8 in California contains this simple statement, "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."  A single judge in California reversed the vote of seven million people.  Certainly, this issue will go to the U.S. Supreme Court, where another single Justice, Anthony Kennedy will probably decide whether to let the vote of the people stand, or whether he will be the person to define marriage for the future in America.  The media is celebrating this victory.  Do not doubt me.  Newsrooms held parties yesterday and the joy is evident on their "impartial" faces during every report on this issue.  They see this as an issue that begins and ends with gay marriage.  To them, this is all about gay marriage and only about gay marriage.  CNN goes to a gay bar in Hollywood to get reaction.  The graphics and headlines say this is an issue of "same-sex marriage."  I must correct their narrow vision here.  This is an issue of defining marriage, and there is a major difference.  If this is going to the U.S. Supreme Court and will define marriage in America (which it will), then where's the live shot from Colorado City?  I hear all the time this issue is just about two people who love each other.  I will ask, who chose the number two?  Why just two?  You know Colorado City, dontcha?  It's in Arizona, but close enough to the borders of three other states so that polygamists can high-tail it to another state when the coppers come a-callin'.  They define marriage in a much different way than most.  I happen to not like their definition: one man and 3,4,7, or a dozen women.  They also seem to like them rather young.   If the definition of marriage changes, then Big Love becomes legal and who says Young Love will not as well? Oh, you can tell me that you think this is all sick, and I would not disagree, but since we are opening up the rules here, who is to say where this goes?     Read more
EXCLUSIVE: Shurtleff running for re-election?
Reported by: Chris Vanocur
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast August 13, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Despite repeatedly having said he would not run for re-election in 2012, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff now tells ABC 4 he is "keeping his options open."  Mark Shurtleff is in his tenth year as attorney general.  He's the only one ever elected to serve three four year terms.  But now, after telling other he wouldn't run again, he tells ABC 4 he might.  ABC 4 went to interview Mark Shurtleff about the decision to send FLDS leader Warren Jeffs to Texas to stand trial.  First, Shurtleff told us, "Texas has said, well, we want to go first and we've said absolutely. We'll send him down there for some Texas justice."  Before long, though, the attorney general was telling us he worries about what will happen to the polygamist community when Jeffs leaves Utah and when Shurtleff leaves office in 2012.  "I don't want to leave things undone and we're still so far away from resolving that and bringing some peace back to that community. I would like to see that resolved."  But something in the way he said that made ABC 4 wonder if Shurtleff was thinking about running for re-election in 2012.  So, we asked him,  ABC 4: "Does that mean you're going to run for another term?"  Shurtleff: "I am going to keep my options open."  To give you some idea of how big a political surprise this is, apparently, even Mark Shurtleff's closest advisors didn't know he was thinking making another run in 2012.
Real Progressive: John Dougherty
Goddard hails Dougherty's courage
By Three Sonorans
Election 2010
Tucson Citizen
Originally published August 17, 2010

AZ Attorney General Goddard lauds "courage" of U.S. Senate candidate John Dougherty in probe of FLDS frauds and abuses

Remarks boost energetic grassroots Dougherty campaign

Green Valley, Ariz.(Aug. 16) — Arizona Attorney General and Democratic candidate for Governor Terry Goddard on Sunday hailed fellow Democrat John Dougherty's "courage" in exposing "fraud" in the face of extreme danger during Dougherty's groundbreaking investigation of the fundamentalist polygamists in Colorado City.  "There were people in that community, and many of them, that would have cheerfully eliminated his life for simply being there and questioning their style of life," Goddard told Democrats gathered for a fundraiser at the home of Nan and Richard Walden.  "And it's for courage like that that I think we owe John a great debt of gratitude."  Goddard's remarks provide a powerful boost to Dougherty's surging grassroots campaign to win the Aug. 24 four-way Democratic Senatorial primary.  Goddard said Dougherty's investigation "showed there was fraud and abuse in the school system and basically showed it was being run as a wholly owned subsidiary of the FLDS, which he showed, in a number of articles."  Dougherty began his investigation of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) in 2002 while working as a journalist for the Phoenix New Times.  It was the first in-depth inquiry in more than 50 years into the isolated community on the Arizona Strip.  FLDS religious leaders have a long history of routinely ordering underage girls to enter into "spiritual marriages" with already married men.  Dougherty's investigation of the Colorado City school system uncovered a litany of financial abuses.  Goddard used the information uncovered by Dougherty to lobby the Arizona Legislature to pass a law that allowed the Attorney General's Office to place the Colorado City school district into receivership.  The school district is now operating outside control of the FLDS.     Read more
Thanks for letting me be your attorney general
by Terry Goddard
Special for the Republic
The Arizona Republic
Originally published December 30, 2010

Thank you, Arizona, for the pleasure and privilege of serving as your attorney general.

This has been the hardest job I have ever loved! I have to agree with Bill Clinton when he said being AG was "the best job I ever had. I didn't have to appoint or disappoint, and if I ever had to do anything really unpopular, I could blame it on the Constitution."

As I get ready to leave office Monday, I recall vivid moments both good and not so good. The legal victories were sweet, but my list includes unforgettable personal experiences - some funny, some poignant and many inspiring. They include:

- Swearing-in. I broke the state Capitol tradition and took the oath of office in my hometown of Tucson, across the street from where my dad, who attended the ceremony, had his law office in the 1950s. I spoke about the challenges ahead and quickly learned they would be tougher than expected.

- Supreme Court curveball. Shortly after taking office, I defended Arizona's school tax-credit law before the U.S. Supreme Court. Appearing before the court had been a seemingly unattainable dream. I was excited and more than a little nervous. Just seconds into my argument, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg interrupted with a terse question: Did a case heard by the court the week earlier weaken my argument? I swallowed hard, tried not to panic and admitted I had no idea what she was talking about. I had just been mugged by a 90-pound grandmother!     Read more
Utah bill aims to protect many religious activities
Associated Press
Rexburg Standard Journal - Rexburg, Idaho
Originally published Tuesday, February 8, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A legislative proposal protecting Utahns from prosecution because of their religious beliefs is so broad some say it might legalize everything from polygamy to smoking peyote.  The intent of House Bill 109 is to reinforce the constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion within state law, to ensure that state, county or municipal laws do not infringe on those freedoms, Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, the bill's sponsor, said.  Christensen said it could protect people from prosecution under nondiscrimination ordinances passed in almost a dozen cities that protect the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the areas of housing and employment.  Religious organizations are already exempted from prosecution under the ordinances.  Courts would decide if those exemptions could apply, Christensen said.  But his focus is broader than any specific law, and meant to give a clear definition of religious freedom in state law.  "By not having a law at the state level that respects the evolution of the Constitution, we've seen some tension," Christensen said.  "This is respectful of individual liberties and rights but creates a balancing test."  Marina Lowe, the legislative and policy counsel for The American Civil Liberties Union, said the bill is so broad it could permit many types of discrimination.  "The possibilities are limitless," Lowe said.  For example, a landlord could refuse to rent to a gay couple or a doctor could refuse to treat a woman who is pregnant out of wedlock.  Lowe said the proposal lacks a prohibition on the government sponsorship of religion, so the exemptions could also extend to government agencies.  Civil rights attorney Brian Barnard said the law could provide a defense for the violation of a variety of laws in the name of faith.  "Polygamy is the one that comes to mind, but there are other religious practices," Barnard said.  "Peyote, for example, and the other one is churches, like the Episcopal church, that give wine to minors during the sacrament."  Christensen said it will not make polygamy legal.  "Heavens no, this won't legalize polygamy. That is banned in the state constitution," he said.     Read more
County has 118,251 registered voters
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Wednesday, February 23, 2011

KINGMAN – Independents in Bullhead City and the Mohave Valley area continue to grow at a faster pace than Republicans or Democrats.  Registered voters are now voting early for the March 8 Bullhead City election to select a mayor and two city council members.  The county had 118,251 registered voters as of Jan. 1.  As of Oct. 4, there were 116,338 registered voters in the county, according to the Mohave County Voter Registration Department.  The Democrats and Republicans have seen slight increases in Bullhead City, Fort Mohave and Mohave Valley since October, while Independents have increased by about 4 to 1 over Republicans in Bullhead City.  The precincts where Democrats outnumber Republicans in Bullhead City include Buena Vista, River Bend, Riviera and Holiday Shores.  Democrats outnumber Republicans in only three other precincts of the 73 precincts in Mohave County, including one precinct in Kingman, one in Dolan Springs and one in Peach Springs.  As of Jan. 1, there were 22,822 registered voters in Bullhead City.  There were 7,671 registered Republicans, 6,430 registered Democrats, 8,592 registered as other parties or Independents and 109 Libertarians in the city.  As of Jan. 1, there were 4,225 registered voters in Mohave Valley including 1,195 Democrats, 1,445 Republicans and 1,569 voters registered as other parties.  In Fort Mohave, there were 8,728 registered voters including 2,342 Democrats, 3,251 Republicans and 3,080 voters registered as other parties.     Read more
Kingman growth misses 8,000 by a whisker
City population now 28,068 - up by 7,999 since 2000 census
Suzanne Adams
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published March 13, 2011

KINGMAN - Thursday's official 2010 census results not only showed that Mohave County exceeded the population mark for five supervisors, but that the population had grown to 200,186, approximately 6,000 more than the estimates that were printed in Wednesday's Miner.  Most of the population growth occurred in the three major metropolitan areas of the county.  Kingman grew by 7,999 from 20,069 to 28,068.  Bullhead City saw its population climb from 33,852 to 39,540.  However, Lake Havasu City still remains the largest city in the county.  Its population jumped from 41,859 in 2000 to 52,527 in 2010.  The unincorporated areas of the county also saw an increase in population. Golden Valley's population increased from 4,587 in 2000 to 8,370.  The number of Dolan Springs residents increased from 1,924 to 2,033.  The Peach Springs population grew from 786 in 2000 to 1,090.  The northern reaches of Mohave County also saw growth.  Colorado City grew from 3,614 to 4,821.  The north Kingman/Butler area was one of the few locations that saw a drop in population.  According to census figures, the Butler area lost nearly 3,000 people, dropping from 15,102 in 2000 to 12,134 in 2010.  The census also added a number of towns in Mohave County to its count.  New this year are Chloride with a population of 271, Hackberry with 68, Meadview with 1,224 and Oatman with 135.  The move to five supervisor districts will have a major impact on the county.  The Board has already approved spending $130,000 to have a consulting firm redraw the supervisor, community college, justice of the peace and Western Arizona Vocational Education Joint Technical Education District boards.  The board is trying to get the new districts drawn up and approved as fast as possible so those residents wanting to run for office in 2012 will know which district they're running in, said Board Chairman Buster Johnson.     Read more
Same-sex marriages give polygamy a legal boost
By Valerie Richardson
The Washington Times
Originally published Sunday, March 20, 2011

The outlook for polygamy hasn't been this good since Abraham took Keturah as his third wife.  Plural marriage remains illegal, but it's undergoing an image upgrade as a result of television shows like HBO's "Big Love" and TLC's "Sister Wives."  More significantly, it's getting a legal boost from a strange bedfellow: the success of same-sex marriage.  Gay-rights advocates cringe whenever the connection is made between same-sex and plural marriage, but more than a few legal analysts say the recent gains posted by gay marriage in the courts and state legislatures cannot help but bolster the case for legalized polygamy.  The federal government and most states define marriage as an institution between one man and one woman.  If marriage is redefined to include two people of the same sex, the argument goes, then it can be redefined to include more than two people.  Critics reject the polygamy comparison, arguing that marriage's definition as a union of two people remains inviolable.  They also dismiss the specter of legalized polygamy as a scare tactic used by the traditional-marriage camp to chill public support for same-sex marriage.  Claiming much deeper roots in human society than gay marriage, plural marriage has been practiced for centuries in nations and cultures across the globe and has ties to both Christianity and Islam.  Same-sex marriage is a recent phenomenon confined to the secular West.  "Unlike same-sex marriage, which has no historical roots and is a new frontier — you can't say the same thing about polygamy," said Austin Nimocks, attorney for the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, which opposes same-sex marriage.  "There's a cultural underpinning and support for plural marriage, so one could say the case is actually stronger for plural marriage."     Read more
Colorado City cops: Test case for the bounds of religious expression
Mary Jo Pitzl - Republic Reporter: The Legislature
Political Insider - Your source for breaking news on the state Capitol and Arizona politics
The Arizona Republic
Originally published Monday, April 11, 2011

Some persuasive evidence for Gov. Jan Brewer's veto of a bill touted as promoting the free exercise of religion has its roots in the polygamy controversy in Colorado City.  In a letter last Friday, the executive director of the agency that trains and certifies police officers warned Brewer of some of the very likely consequences of Senate Bill 1288.  Three officers in the Colorado City Marshall's office who practiced polygamy put the directive of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs ahead of their duty to enforce the law, said Lyle Mann, executive director of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board.  That led to the loss of their peace-officer certification.  If SB 1288 were law, those officers could claim protection against sanctions, citing they were exercising their religious beliefs, Mann wrote.  "These officers had corresponded with the fugitive Warren Jeffs, but refused to cooperate by providing information that might have helped locate him," Mann wrote.  "They claimed that their protection of the fugitive was a religious practice."   Mann asked Brewer to consider a veto of the bill, saying its enactment could hinder law enforcement. Brewer did so on Monday, citing "unanticipated and unintended consequences."
Brewer vetoes religious freedom bill over loopholes
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
East Valley Tribune
Originally published Monday, April 11, 2011

Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed legislation designed to shield people from being disciplined professionally because of their religious views, at least in part over the issue of polygamy.  The governor, in her first veto of the session, said she does not believe people should have to choose between their religious beliefs and their professions.  And Brewer said she recognizes that SB 1288 has provisions which do not immunize criminal activities or sexual misconduct based on someone's beliefs.  But she said there are still too many loopholes.  "This bill could protect conduct that harms the public but cannot be readily addressed if the person claims that the conduct is based on religious beliefs," she wrote in her veto message.  Brewer said her main concern is language that would bar the state from denying, suspending or revoking an individual's professional or occupational license based on someone's free exercise of religion. She said that "could provide a mechanism for abuse."  The governor cited no examples. But her office made public a letter she got from the head of the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board pointing up one potential problem.  "Polygamy is prohibited by the Arizona constitution but it is not criminal conduct in Arizona," wrote Lyle Mann, executive director of the organization which decides who can -- and cannot -- be a peace officer in the state.  He said three police officers have had their certification revoked because they practice polygamy.  But Mann said the problem is deeper than simply having multiple wives.     Read more
Urquhart, Shurtleff clash
Brian Ahern
The Spectrum
Originally published April 13, 2011

ST. GEORGE - Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff thinks politics and personal animosity are fueling Sen. Steve Urquhart's call to consider changing the Utah Constitution to allow the governor to appoint the state attorney general rather than continue it as an elected position.  And he isn't mincing his words.  "Steve Urquhart has been on a personal campaign against me," Shurtleff said.  "For him to suggest this is not personal is a lie."  Urquhart, R-St. George, said appointing the state's top law enforcement officer would keep the office free of influence by campaign donors.  "We want to make sure fundraising efforts aren't tied to prosecutorial decisions," Urquhart said.  "I've talked to a lot of citizens who have concerns."  Shurtleff, meanwhile, said the idea of a governor-appointed attorney general has been brought up many times, but has always been rejected in the name of a separation of powers.  "If there's any misdeed or malfeasance in the executive branch then I'm responsible to the people to take action," he said.  "I'm fine going before a legislative committee and explaining why an attorney general needs to be separate from the chief executive's office."  Urquhart acknowledged his relationship with Shurtleff was "not very good," but he was adamant the issue wasn't personal for him.  "I don't regard this as personal, but apparently Attorney General Shurtleff does," he said.  "I'm trying hard not to personalize it. I'm working very hard in this interview not to talk about it."  Shurtleff certainly doesn't see it that way.  Though his current term was expected to be his last, he said he might run again, just to stay in the ring against Urquhart.  "I told my staff today if Urquhart wants to fight I might run for reelection to fight him on this," he said.  That fight, Shurtleff added, would also be to keep Urquhart out of the attorney general's chair.     Read more
Relativism, Polygamy, & Doing the Right Thing
By Chuck Colson | Christian Post Guest Columnist
The Christian Post - Washington DC
Originally published Thu, Apr. 21 2011

In March, the popular HBO series "Big Love" ended its five-year run.  The show about a polygamist household in Utah is as close as the vast majority of Americans will ever get to polygamy.  Or maybe not.  Shockingly, polygamy is on the rise in the West, especially in Muslim enclaves.  And there are 30-50 thousand polygamists in the U.S., the vast majority living in Mormon splinter groups.  And despite the rosy picture of polygamy painted by "Big Love," Rose McDermott, who teaches at Brown University, will tell you that in the real world, polygamy is abusive and exploitative: Women in polygamous communities suffer "higher rates of HIV infection," increased incidences of domestic violence, and even a higher likelihood of dying in childbirth.  To stem the abuses, McDermott urges governments to "think twice" before legalizing polygamy.  But elected officials may not have any say in the manner.  Since the 1960s and later, Roe v. Wade, decisions regarding marriage, family, and morality in general have been made by judges, not legislators.  For example, in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Justice Kennedy wrote that "at the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."  In other words, you have a constitutional right to do what you want with whom you want. Then, in Lawrence v. Texas, the Court overturned Texas' anti-sodomy law and made it next-to-impossible to outlaw any sexual practice or arrangement between consenting adults.  In his dissent, which he read aloud from the bench, Justice Scalia thundered, "This effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation."  He warned that the Lawrence decision could undermine laws against bestiality, incest, prostitution, and yes, same-sex marriage.  At the time, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and I publicly echoed Scalia's warning.  Senator Santorum was pilloried for the next several years in the press.     Read more
City Council, Kalauli agree on contract
Veteran jurist set to become new magistrate May 16
Today's News-Herald - Lake Havasu City
Originally published Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Judge Mitchell Kalauli is set to take over as Lake Havasu City's newest magistrate May 16.  The City Council voted 6-0 to approve an employment agreement with Kalauli Tuesday night during the council's regular meeting.  Councilwoman Margaret Nyberg was absent from the meeting.  The seven-member council unanimously selected Kalauli as Lake Havasu City's new city magistrate in March.  Kalauli is set to receive $117,500 annually with his two-year contract beginning May 16.  Former City Magistrate Clyde Andress received $127,930.50, according to Andress' employment agreement.  "We're really excited," Kalauli said, adding that he and his family are currently looking for a house in Lake Havasu City.  Kalauli previously beat out two other finalists, Lake Havasu City Prosecutor Charles Yager and Lake Havasu City Attorney Heather Wellborn, to replace Andress and interim City Magistrate Jill Davis.  Kalauli has served six years as a justice of the peace for the Mohave County Justice Court Moccasin Division, between Fredonia and Colorado City.  He also recently served as a judge for Kaibab Paiute Tribe.  Kalauli's experience as a judge ultimately led the council to select him over the other candidates, council members said Tuesday.  "To me, his experience just means he's a man that's been wearing many hats ... so we're happy to have him," Mayor Mark Nexsen said.  "We're happy that we got a contract that works for both of us."  Vice Mayor Don Callahan agreed.  "Everything is looking like he's going to be a good choice for the job," Callahan said.  "Of the three finalists we had, he was the only one who had judicial experience, which is in the end what we used to make the choice, I think."     Read more
First meeting on redistricting plan Thursday
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Wednesday, May 11, 2011

KINGMAN — The first of five public meetings on the 2012 redistricting project will be held Thursday in Bullhead City.  Mohave County is in the process of expanding the supervisor districts from three to five districts and redraw the boundaries lines to match population growth in time for the 2012 elections.  The plan is to make the districts equal to each other, with no district having a 10 percent difference in population.  The first open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday in Room 210 at MCC's campus located at 3400 Highway 95 in Bullhead City.  Meetings will also be held Friday at the MCC campuses in Lake Havasu City and Kingman.  A meeting will also be held May 23 in Beaver Dam and May 24 at MCC's North campus in Colorado City.  District maps will be drawn up in June from the input from the public meetings.  A second round of public meetings will be held in July.  Map options will be presented to the county supervisors in August for approval.  The plans will then be submitted to the federal Department of Justice in September.  The project is required to be completed by Dec. 1.  A questionnaire is also now available on the Mohave County Elections Department's Web site for public input into the redistricting plan.  The Web site also has 2010 census information including population by district, supervisor district, cities and towns.  The 2010 census puts the county's population at 200,186.  Also on the Web site is a map of Mohave Community College's five districts.   Besides changing to five supervisor districts, the county will also change MCC's boundaries, the justice of the peace districts and the Western Arizona Vocation Education's Joint Technical Education District.  Those districts already have five districts.
County zoning board to add one more member
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Wednesday, May 18, 2011

KINGMAN — With five county supervisors being elected in 2012, the Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission will increase to 10 members instead of nine.  Mohave County is in the process of expanding the supervisor districts from three to five districts and redraw the boundaries lines to match population growth in time for the 2012 elections.  According to the 2010 census, the county now has more than 200,100 people.  Currently, the commission is made up of nine commissioners with the three county supervisors appointing three members from each supervisor district.  With three supervisors, the state law calls for only one member from each district to be from an incorporated area and two members to be from an unincorporated area.  With a five-member board of supervisors, there will be 10 commissioners with each supervisor appointing two members to the commission.  One member from each district may be from an incorporated area and one member may be from an unincorporated area.  Members could come from areas of the county currently not represented like the Arizona Strip, Wikieup or Peach Springs.  Unlike county supervisors, planning and zoning commissioners are not paid except for travel costs and lunch during the commission meeting.  The commission is now made up of Jack Pozenel, Peter Kaleta and Rick Sherwood of District 1, which includes Kingman.  Members of District 2, which comprises of Fort Mohave, Mohave Valley and Golden Valley, include Joseph Morabito, Kristal Gibson and Mehdi Azarmi.  Commissioners Carl Flusche and Sue Donahue are from District 3, which includes Lake Havasu City.     Read more
Romneys, Udalls have ties to Ariz. territorial polygamy trials
Special to Tri-Valley Dispatch
Tri-Valley Dispatch - Casa Grande Valley Newspapers - Casa Grande, AZ
Originally published Wednesday, June 8, 2011

PRESCOTT — Two of America's most prominent political families, the Republican Romneys and the Democratic Udalls, are tied to an unusual polygamy prosecution in Arizona's territorial past that left the patriarch of one family in federal prison as the ancestor of a current presidential candidate jumped bail and fled to Mexico.  The story is detailed in "Story of the American West," a book celebrating Arizona's centennial.  In the 1880s, D.K. Udall was living in St. Johns, serving as Mormon bishop for the community and running the church's cooperative store.  Miles P. Romney was the editor of the local Mormon newspaper, the Orion Era.  Udall was the grandfather of the late Congressman Mo Udall and his brother, the late Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall.  Two current U.S. senators, Mark Udall of Colorado and Tom Udall of New Mexico, are their sons.  Recently announced presidential aspirant Mitt Romney is the great-grandson of Miles Romney.  St. Johns was bitterly divided between pro-Mormon and anti-Mormon factions, and the issue of polygamy was a convenient way to prosecute the leaders of the Latter-day Saints, before the church abandoned the practice.  Though Udall had two wives, federal authorities were unsuccessful in prosecuting him for polygamy.  So, they brought him back into court in Prescott on charges of filing a false affidavit in support of Romney's homestead claim, and Romney also was charged in conjunction with that.  "By dubious means they secured a conviction and on October 10, 1885, he was sentenced to serve a three-year term in the Detroit House of Correction," the St. Johns Mormon history says.  Earlier, Romney had appealed to William Flake, the founder of Snowflake, to bail him out.  At the time, Flake was about to leave Prescott for the Territorial Prison in Yuma to serve his own sentence on a polygamy conviction.     Read more
Redistricting respondents seek rural representation
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Friday, June 10, 2011

KINGMAN — Almost 200 participants turned in questionnaires in Mohave County's plan to expand the supervisor districts from three to five districts.  The county is in the process of redrawing the boundaries lines in time for the 2012 elections as required by the 2010 census showing the county with a population of more than 200,000.  The plan is to make the districts equal to each other, with no district having a 10 percent difference in population.  District maps are being drawn up from the input from recent public meetings and questionnaires that is being sent this week to the consultants assisting the county's election department.  A second round of public meetings will be held in July.  More people attended public meetings held in Colorado City and Beaver Dam than in Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City, county voter coordinator Betty Vernon said.  Map options will be presented to the county supervisors in August for approval.  The plans will then be submitted to the federal Department of Justice in September.  The project is required to be completed by Dec. 1.  There were 193 responses to the questionnaires sent in.  Many of the comments dealt with representation of rural residents.  About 17 percent of the responses came from Bullhead City.  Some Mohave Valley residents wanted their own supervisor, possibly representing from southern Bullhead City to northern Lake Havasu City.     Read more
Obama nominates Utah judge for U.S. District Court
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, June 29 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — President Barack Obama has nominated Judge David Ogden Nuffer to become a federal judge at the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah.  Nuffer has been a full-time U.S. magistrate judge in Utah since 2003.  He held that position part-time from 1995 to 2003.  "The U.S. District Court in Utah is very busy, and filling this vacancy is a real priority of mine," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said.  "Judge Nuffer's integrity, training and legal experience make him well-qualified for the position.  GOP Sen. Mike Lee also had praise for Nuffer.  In a written statement, Lee said, "Judge Nuffer is an experienced, highly regarded judge who will serve the people of Utah well in his new role."  From 1979 to 2002, Nuffer practiced law at Snow Nuffer, focusing on civil litigation, real estate development, and municipalities.  Judge Nuffer served as the president of the Utah State Bar from 2000 to 2001.  He received his J.D. cum laude in 1978 from Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark Law School and his B.A. cum laude in 1975 from BYU.  In a press release, Obama said Nuffer demonstrated an unwavering commitment to justice throughout his career, and that he was confident Nuffer would continue to serve the American people with integrity.  Nuffer, whose nomination has to be confirmed by the Senate, would fill one of two vacancies on the federal bench in Utah.  The Obama administration has also not nominated a permanent U.S. Attorney for Utah.
Supervisors to consider letter in support of uranium mining industry
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Thursday, June 30, 2011

KINGMAN — The county supervisors will consider Tuesday supporting uranium mining in Northern Arizona, including lands around the Grand Canyon.  The board will be asked to submit a letter to National Association of Counties to support uranium mining on federal Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands in Northern Arizona including the Arizona Strip area.  In 2009, U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar withdrew about 1 million acres of land near the Grand Canyon from new mining operations for two years.  Salazar recently extended for six months the moratorium on the public lands in Northern Arizona.  One of three sections of the land under moratorium in Mohave County is called the north segregation area, which includes land south of Colorado City and Fredonia.  District 3 Sup. Buster Johnson cited a Nuclear Energy Institute report that stated reserves in Northern Arizona amounts to about 326 million pounds that could supply electricity to 40 million people for more than 22 years.  However, according to the U.S. Geological Survey uranium specialist Jim Otton, the country has 104 nuclear plants that use from 50 million to 55 million pounds of uranium a year.  The plants generate about 20 percent of the country's electricity.     Read more
Are Republicans Ready Now for a Mormon President?
In 2008, Mitt Romney's religion was a problem. Will the party's voters get over that in 2012?
Room for Debate
The Opinion Pages
The New York Times
Originally published July 4, 2011

A New Mormon Moment

Sarah Barringer Gordon is a professor of law and history at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of "The Mormon Question" and "The Spirit of the Law." Jan Shipps is professor emerita of religious studies and history at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. She is the author of "Mormonism: The Story of A New Religious Tradition" and "Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years among the Mormons."

A hit Broadway musical and two presidential candidates mean Mormons are in the spotlight.  Mormons are reliably Republican, often successful and confident – except for the nagging fear that they are mistrusted by the rest of us.  Polls still say that evangelicals in particular are reluctant to support Mormon candidates.  The key will be for Huntsman and Romney to walk the tightrope between belief and politics with dignity and openness.  What makes Mormons such a juicy target?  It's their history and their theology, as well as garden-variety religious prejudice.  Led by Prophet Joseph Smith, Mormons had a new scripture and prophetic revelations.  They restored the "ancient order of things," including temple worship and the polygamy of biblical patriarchs.  They also believed the Garden of Eden was in America.  But when they tried to claim their divine "inheritance" in Missouri in the 1830s, the Missouri Mormon War was the result.     Read more
Plenty of seats open in county municipal races
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published July 12, 2011

ST. GEORGE - Residents have less than a week to file for municipal city and town council seats and most races in Washington County still look pretty thin when it comes to candidates.  In 15 cities and towns throughout the county, most have yet to see any new names file for their open seats and many had fewer candidates than openings as of Monday afternoon.  "We've had a couple of people pick up the paperwork, but they haven't brought it back yet," said Hurricane City Recorder Kaden DeMille, where incumbents John Bramall, Pam Humphries and Darin Thomas all have filed to run again but so far have no challengers.  In some municipalities, such as Virgin and Springdale, the number of open seats is greater than the number of candidates at this point.  "We usually don't see most of the filings until the last day or so, so we'll see on Thursday or Friday," said Tom Dansie, director of community development and deputy clerk for the town of Springdale.  Two exceptions to the otherwise slow flow of candidates are St. George and Washington City.  In St. George, the three incumbent council members - Gil Almquist, Jon Pike and Gloria Shakespeare - all have filed to run again, as have Sam Laub, D.R. Wall, Jay Brian Dial and Tara Dunn.  Gay Cragun, city recorder, said the large number will require a September primary to narrow down the field.  Washington City also has a busy slate so far, with four challengers already announced to run for seats held by incumbents Jeff Turek, Mike Heaton and Roger Bundy.  Thus far, only Heaton has filed to run for re-election, said Danice Bulloch, city recorder.     Read more
Incumbents confident in elections
Written by Brian Ahern
The Spectrum
Originally published July 15, 2011

ST. GEORGE - The slate of candidates is now set for city council races throughout Washington County, and some incumbents say they have a distinct advantage over the large number of challengers.  In St. George, the three incumbents up for re-election say modest revenue gains and an improving economy would undoubtedly help their chances against the eight opponents vying for their jobs.  Facing off against incumbent City Council members Gil Almquist, Jon Pike and Gloria Shakespeare, the eight challengers are: James Atkin, Ed Baca, J. Brian Dial, Tara Dunn, Jimmie Hughes, Sam Laub, Matt Mortensen and DR Wall.  "St. George has weathered the storm better than most communities with similar demographics and economic structure," Almquist said.  "The direction of the city is upward. Statistics in most areas are improving."  Voters throughout the city, he added, would certainly see those improvements.  For the first time in more than three years, the city has had the revenues to fund local road widening and parks projects that officials say improve quality of life.  "More money has been allocated to transportation, the budget was again balanced," Almquist said.  Pike, meanwhile, said he expects incumbents to be attacked on such spending.  "Some people may question things like spending money on things like roads when money is tight," he said.  "But you can only put off those things for so long."     Read more
Perry defends gay marriage as states' choice; Santorum takes a swipe
Jennifer Jacobs
Caucus Insider
Iowa Caucuses
The Des Moines Register - Des Moines, Iowa
Originally published July 23, 2011

Texas's Republican Gov. Rick Perry on Friday said he's "fine" with New York's approval of gay marriage because such decisions should be left up to states.  That prompted a response from Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who tweeted overnight: "So Gov Perry, if a state wanted to allow polygamy or if they chose to deny heterosexuals the right to marry, would that be OK too?"  Santorum followed that post with the hashtag #tcot, which stands for "top conservatives on Twitter."  Perry, who is considering running for president, at a forum in Colorado on Friday called himself an "unapologetic social conservative" and said he opposes gay marriage — but that he's also a firm believer in the 10th Amendment, the Associated Press reported.  "Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me," he said to applause from several hundred GOP donors in Aspen, the AP reported.  "That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business."  The forum was held by the Aspen Institute as the Republican Governors Association held a fundraiser and convention in Aspen, a resort town with heated sidewalks about four hours southwest of Denver.     Read more
In besieged Mormon colony, Mitt Romney's Mexican roots
By Nick Miroff
The Washington Post
Originally published July 23, 2011

COLONIA JUAREZ, Mexico — Three dozen of Mitt Romney's relatives live here in a narrow river valley at the foot of the western Sierra Madre mountains, surrounded by peach groves, apple orchards and some of the baddest, most fearsome drug gangsters and kidnappers in all of northern Mexico.  Like Mitt, the Mexican Romneys are descendants of Miles Park Romney, who came to the Chihuahua desert in 1885 seeking refuge from U.S. anti-polygamy laws.  He had four wives and 30 children, and on the rocky banks of the Piedras Verdes River, he and his fellow Mormon pioneers carved out a prosperous settlement beyond the reach of U.S. federal marshals.  He was Mitt's great-grandfather.  Gaskell Romney, Mitt's grandfather, settled in Mexico as well, and Mitt's father, George Romney, was born in nearby Colonia Dublan — raising the possibility of a 2012 presidential race between two contenders whose fathers were born outside the United States.  The story of Mitt Romney's family in Mexico is not well known or frequently mentioned by the candidate, who is widely viewed as the front-runner for the Republican nomination.  But the extraordinary lives of Romney's ancestors, and the current struggles of his relatives against Mexico's brutal criminal gangs, present a significantly more complex family portrait than the all-American image of Mitt with his wife, Ann, and their five clean-cut sons.     Read more
Residents call for one county voting district
Democrats unrepresented one woman says
Suzanne Adams
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published July 28, 2011

BULLHEAD CITY - Give Mohave County its own congressional and legislative district was the message from the majority of the crowd that attended a public meeting of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in Bullhead City Tuesday evening.  Around 70 people attended the meeting, but only 20 spoke, voicing their various reasons why Mohave County should be one state and federal voting district.  Mohave County resident Denise Bensusan created a stir halfway through the meeting when she said she didn't feel she received adequate representation from local elected officials because she was a Democrat.  "Democrats are in the minority. People are afraid to say they are Democrats because of the aggressiveness of some members of the Republican Party," she said.  She added that keeping Mohave County as one uncompetitive district would disenfranchise a lot of voters who are not part of the Republican Party.  Commissioner Jose Herrera, one of two commissioners who attended the meeting, had to stop Bensusan and ask the crowd to refrain from speaking while someone was at the podium after her comments drew boos, jeers and a number of muttered comments from the crowd.  "This is what I'm talking about," Bensusan said.  "This area is Republican dominated. I don't know how you're going to (create a competitive district)."  The bullying and racism in the county is horrible, she said.  "We're not allowed to speak. Those Republicans are not representing my interests," she said.     Read more
Mohave County redistricting project moves forward
Today's News-Herald - Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Originally published Monday, August 15, 2011

A new draft of Mohave County's ongoing redistricting project split Lake Havasu City — the north portion of the city in one proposed district, and the south portion in another.  The proposed split begins along North Kiowa Avenue in the northwest area of the city and continues the cut south at Avalon Avenue, Havasupai Boulevard, Empress Drive and Rainbow Avenue.  The boundary jaunts northeast at South Palo Verde Boulevard and continues on Amberwood Avenue before briefly zigzagging on South Kiowa Boulevard before dropping south on Opossum Drive to Hiawatha Drive.  It follows Jamaica Boulevard and jumps eastward along South McCulloch Boulevard to Tropic Boulevard.  It extends along Tropic until the city becomes open desert.  The proposed boundary is determined by existing voter precincts.  For example, the area to the north includes precincts of Desert Hills, Fiesta, Quail Ridge, Avalon, Bermuda City, Crossman, Hacienda, Industrial, Yucca and Topock — all currently in Dist. 3 (Havasu).  And Mohave Mesa, Mohave Valley, Monte Vista and Mesa Del Sur — all currently in Dist. 2 (Bullhead).  The area to the south includes voter precincts of Palo Verde, London Bridge, Sara, Smoketree, Starline, Lakeview, Oro Grande, Rainbow, Thunderbolt, Daytona, Chesapeake, El Dorado, Roadrunner and Jamaica — all of Dist. 3.     Read more
County unveils proposed districts
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Tuesday, August 16, 2011

KINGMAN — The second round of public meetings on the 2012 redistricting project have now been set with the first being held in Bullhead City.  Mohave County is in the process of expanding the supervisor districts from three to five districts and redraw the boundaries lines to match population growth in time for the 2012 elections.  Finalized district maps will be drawn up from the input from the two rounds of public meetings.  The elections department also released the first look at the district maps, which are on the elections website and linked to redistricting.  All 10 of Bullhead City precincts along with Davis Dam would be in District 3.  Fort Mohave, Mohave Valley and Topock precincts would be in District 1.  Oatman would be in District 4.  Bullhead City and Fort Mohave precincts are currently in District 2.  Mohave Valley precincts are currently in District 3.  Map options will be presented to the county supervisors for approval possibly by September.  The plans will then be submitted to the federal Department of Justice also by September.  The project is required to be completed by Dec. 1.  The supervisors will define the boundaries and make the districts equal to each other, with no district having a 10 percent difference in population.     Read more
Gould: Maps are 'a starting point'
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Friday, August 19, 2011

BULLHEAD CITY — "They might be a starting point, but I don't think those are going to hold," said District 3 State Sen. Ron Gould (R-Lake Havasu City) regarding the initial grid maps from the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, published in Thursday's Mohave Valley Daily News.  Gould also serves as chairman of the Mohave County Republican Central Committee.  "That's all computer-generated," Gould said.  "The only thing that they take into consideration on that is compactness."  Regarding a U.S. congressional map, placing Mohave County in the same district as Pima County, "I don't think it would happen just because essentially you're throwing in the conservative part of the state in with some Hispanic Democrats. The (U.S.) Justice Department is going to say you were disenfranchising those folks," Gould said.  The Department of Justice must approve the final maps to make sure minorities are not shortchanged.  The grid maps for the state legislative district removed Colorado City and the "Arizona Strip," the far-northern part of Mohave County, from the remainder of the county.  "Our main thrust was to try to keep all of Mohave County together, which would include the little communities up on the strip, too," said District 3 State Rep. Nancy McLain (R-Bullhead City).  "Both (District 3 State Rep.) Doris (Goodale) and I have really developed a good relationship with the folks up there," McLain said.  "I'm afraid, especially if they're put over with the folks in Coconino County and the Navajo Nation, that they won't get any representation at all."  McLain agreed with Gould that the initial grids are not likely to be finalized.     Read more
Redistricting meeting attracts few participants
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BULLHEAD CITY — The only "public" attending Tuesday's Bullhead City informational meeting to review proposed Mohave County supervisor redistricting maps were Republican Party supervisor candidates, a member of the county's planning nd zoning commission, GOP precinct captains, and two members of the local news media.  Of the three cities in the county, Bullhead is the only one that won't be split, according to preliminary maps.  By virtue of its 2010 census numbers, Bullhead City's population of 39,500 closely matches the 40,000-resident requirement for each district.  The northern part of Lake Havasu City will be included in a district with Fort Mohave, Mohave Valley, Golden Shores and Yucca.  Kingman will be split between a north county district and one that covers the eastern part of the county, running from Colorado City to Wikieup.  "It meets all the (U.S.) Department of Justice requirements for one person, one vote," said Allen Tempert, Mohave County elections director.  "There's also no minority retrogression that took place, which means minority voting rights strength was not reduced in any particular district from how they were before. That's very important to the Department of Justice."  The maps retain or enhance "communities of interest," Tempert said.  "When we did a survey that was by far what a huge majority was talking about — keeping our community interest together."     Read more
The politics of the Saints
Romney campaign is an epochal moment for Mormons in public life
By James Carroll
Boston Globe
Originally published August 28, 2011

WITH MITT Romney's candidacy for president, the Mormon church approaches an epochal moment in its deep engagement with American politics.  The nation, too, is at a threshold - entering, perhaps, a more spacious public understanding of many once-marginal groups.  In the Mormon case, it's been a long time coming.  Romney may be a front-runner for the Republican nomination, and his father George may once have been a serious candidate for president, but the first Mormon to run for president was the first Mormon himself.  In 1844, as the head of a burgeoning new religious movement that identified the US Constitution as a sacred text inspired by God, Joseph Smith saw politics as a mode of missionizing.  He was the mayor of the Mormon enclave in Nauvoo, Ill., where he proposed, to cite one position, that the freedom of slaves be bought with sums raised by the auctioning of public lands.  But Smith's real concern had to be the protection of his own movement from harassment by mobs, which were abetted by local and federal authorities.  He ran for president as an independent, and his candidacy was marginal.  No matter what, he would have had little impact on an election that gave the nation James K. Polk.  But in June, while under arrest, charged with treason, he was murdered in jail.  The early story of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a saga of confrontation and dispersal.  When the church finally settled in Utah, it went from being a despised minority to a regional power.  When challenged by the federal government over polygamy, and when polygamy was then abandoned, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS, came into its own as the permanent political pillar of Utah, with ever-increasing influence in neighboring states.     Read more
In the 19th century, the Romneys fled the law
The forefathers of the Republican contender did what he condemns today: Sought sanctuary across the border
By Jeff Biggers
War Room
Salon - Salon Media Group - San Francisco, California
Originally published Friday, Sep 9, 2011

In an attempt to blunt the surging presidential candidacy of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney recently embraced two hot-button immigration issues in an appeal to Tea Party followers: He called for an end to so-called sanctuary cities harboring undocumented aliens, and he insisted that the next president "must do a better job of securing its borders, and as president, I will."  Yet, Romney's hard-line rhetoric overshadows a family secret: Few have benefited more from porous borders and "sanctuary" cities on either side of the border than the Romney family.  Last week, in fact, both Perry and Romney put in well-covered calls to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for advice on the immigration issue.  In the 19th century, Arpaio would have been taking a close look at the Romney's familial flouting of Arizona law.  Romney's ancestral legacy of polygamy, of course, is hardly news.  The Washington Post did a feature story last month on Romney's sizable family community in northern Mexico, and the role of his great-grandfather Miles Park Romney, "who came to the Chihuahua desert in 1885 seeking refuge from U.S. anti-polygamy laws."     Read more
Gould keeping close eye on redistricting
State senator's plans hinge on where Franks lands on new maps
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Tuesday, October 11, 2011

BULLHEAD CITY — District 3 State Sen. Ron Gould has mixed feelings regarding draft congressional and state legislative redistricting maps approved by the Independent Redistricting Commission.  Gould serves as chairman of the Mohave County Republican Central Committee.  Monday, the committee voted 4-1 for a state legislative redistricting plan, which removes the far-flung Mohave County precincts of Colorado City and the remainder of the Arizona Strip from the current district, the bulk of which includes all of Mohave County.  The new district would include La Paz County.  Gould noted that the new district would "be more compact" than the current one.  Gould, who is term-limited and must give up his senate seat next year, is interested in running for Congress.  He said he would only run if District 2 U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Glendale) is placed in another district.  The draft map for a Fourth Congressional District, which includes Mohave County, does not include an incumbent.  As for his prospects of winning a GOP primary and a general election in 2012, Gould said, "Looks good. We'll just have to wait and see if those lines hold."  There's been "push back" from Gov. Jan Brewer and most of the other leading elected Republicans, accusing the IRC of bias in favor of Democrats, who accuse the GOP of bullying tactics.     Read more
Redistricting panel to hold hearing in BHC
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BULLHEAD CITY — The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission will make a return visit to Bullhead City this week to gauge public reaction to state legislative and U.S. congressional maps.  Like the previous public hearing, this will be the only IRC meeting held in Mohave County during this round.  As to why Bullhead City got the nod again, as opposed to Kingman or Lake Havasu City, "The cooperation we have received from the city government in Bullhead has been very good.  Things went so well in the first round it was an easy decision to go back," said Stuart Robinson, IRC public information officer.  The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Bullhead City council chamber, 1255 Marina Blvd.  It will be streamed live across the state at and will also be available live at and on Suddenlink cable channel 4.  "The main purpose of these hearings is for the general public to talk to the commissioners about what they like and don't like about the draft maps," Robinson said.  "So, you're not going to hear a lot of the commission talking to them; You're going to hear their fellow Arizonans talking to the commissioners."  There will be a brief PowerPoint presentation, followed by comments from the public.  Robinson did not know which commissioners will be attending the meeting.  Two out of five attended the previous meeting.  Generally, all of them watch the meetings on the Internet.     Read more
Utah's short-handed federal bench still waiting for reinforcements
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, Dec. 7 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is poised to have a full complement of federal judges for the first time in more than two years.  Pending Senate approval of two nominees, the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City will be back up to five full-time judges.  But those confirmations don't come quickly.  "I feel bad for the candidates," said Mark Jones, clerk of the court.  "They seemed to be able to do it faster in the past. It must just be the political environment we're in."  One of those nominees, David Nuffer, who currently works as a federal magistrate, has waited since June.  The Senate, though, is expected to confirm him before it adjourns this month.  Last week, President Barack Obama nominated Salt Lake lawyer Robert J. Shelby to fill the other slot.  He likely won't be up for confirmation until next spring.  "It is frustrating," said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.  "I wish we would have had Judge Nuffer through faster."  Lee said he also intends to support Shelby.  Utah's first female federal judge, Tena Campbell, went eight days from nomination to confirmation in 1995.  Less than four months has been typical of others currently on the federal bench in Utah.  Appointments are for life.     Read more
Rick Santorum compares same-sex marriage to polygamy, in spirited exchange at N.H. college
By Sandhya Somashekhar
Washington Post
Originally published January 5, 2012

DURHAM, N.H. - Rick Santorum took on a restive audience Thursday night over the issue of same-sex marriage, which the former Pennsylvania senator vociferously opposes.  Asked by a college student why he opposed the right of same-sex couples to wed, he responded that there was no compelling reason to allow it and suggested that it was akin to legalizing polygamy.  "So, everybody has the right to be happy?" he said.  "So, if you're not happy unless you're married to five other people, is that OK?"  Santorum's logic provoked an outcry from the audience, which was made up primarily of local college students but also a number of local conservative voters who were there to support the surging presidential candidate.  It was the first such confrontation over Santorum's well-documented opposition to gay rights and gay marriage since his surprisingly strong finish in the Iowa caucuses, but it probably won't be the last.  New Hampshire has allowed same-sex marriage since 2010, and voters who were unaware of Santorum's stance on the issues are likely to hear a great deal about them now that he is emerging as the Christian conservative standard-bearer in the race.  The grilling began almost immediately after Santorum concluded his opening remarks at an event sponsored by the New England College.  Student after student challenged him on his stance, especially in light of his earlier remarks about the founding principle that all men were created equal.     Read more
Santorum's defense of bigotry fails on all counts
Dan Turner
Opinion L.A.
Observations and provocations from The Times' Opinion staff
Los Angeles Times
Originally published January 6, 2012

I will say this for Rick Santorum: He's one of the more well-spoken bigots I've heard in a while.  His defense of his absolutist position on gay marriage, delivered in front of a largely hostile crowd of college Republicans in Concord, N.H., was concise, logical and delivered with the rhetorical flourish of a seasoned attorney.  None of it hadn't been expressed by same-sex marriage opponents before, but Santorum's gift is to make his morally and legally untenable position sound reasonable.  Boiled to its essence, his argument has three parts: First, the burden of demonstrating that same-sex marriage should be legalized falls on its supporters rather than its opponents, because the former group is the one that wants to change the law.  Fair enough.  Here's the reason, Rick: Because discriminating against a class of people by failing to grant them the same rights enjoyed by everyone else is unfair and unconstitutional.     Read more

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Mitt Romney's family in Mexico reveals candidate's heritage south of border
By Mike Taibbi, Michelle Balani, and Mario Garcia
Rock Center
Originally published January 6, 2012

Heading into the New Hampshire primary, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has a strong lead in the polls as he continues his effort to become the Republican nominee challenging President Obama in the fall.  That would mean, of course, that the 64-year-old Romney would be closer to The White House than any Mormon ever has been.  If Romney secures the nomination, he would also be the first presidential nominee whose father was born in Mexico.  It's a little-known fact that there's a whole branch of Mitt Romney's family living south of the border, including his second cousin Leighton Romney, and about 40 other relatives descended from religious pioneers who first traveled to Mexico 125 years ago.  These days, the Romneys of Mexico enjoy pleasant and productive lives in two remaining settlements: Colonia Juarez and Colonia Dublan, just 175 miles south of the border.  "He's got a great pioneer heritage starting with people that crossed the plains going from Illinois to Utah, and then on from Utah down to Mexico," Leighton Romney told NBC's Mike Taibbi in an interview to air Monday night on 'Rock Center with Brian Williams.'  "So there's a great heritage there of people that had to fight for what they believed in and for people that had to travel to different places and learn different things. I think there's a vast amount of experience that he could draw from there."     Read more
GOING VIRAL: Rick Santorum heckled as he compares gay marriage to polygamy
By Daily Mail Reporter
Daily Mail - London, England
Originally published 9th January 2012

Rick Santorum has emerged as a surprise hopeful behind Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential candidate.  But his opposition to gay marriage is one key issue that threatens to derail his bid for the White House.  Here, the former lawyer comes unstuck as he defends his opposition to gay marriage to an audience at New England College.  Sanotorum responds to a question from a woman about the 'idea that all men to be equal and the right to happiness'.  A confused Santorum says: 'So anybody can marry anybody else? So, anybody can marry several people?'  The crowd jeers but the Republican continues: 'Everybody has the right to be happy? And if you're not happy unless you're married to five other people, is that OK?'  The woman asks if 'two men should have the rights of a man and a women'.  Sanotorum responds: 'What about three men? It's important that if we have a rational discussion based on reasoned thought, we employ reason.'  Santorum is likening gay marriage to polygamy, the practice of having several wives, which pointedly is one of the doctrines of Mormons, the favoured religion of his main Republican rival Mitt Romney.
New Jersey Reconsiders Same-Sex Marriage; Santorum Worries About Polygamy
The Opinion Pages
The New York Times
Originally published January 9, 2012

MANCHESTER, N.H. – There's more news from the equal rights front – some good, some just bizarre.  The Newark Star-Ledger reported on Monday that the New Jersey state legislature will soon reconsider the issue of marriage equality.  Two years ago the legislature rejected same-sex marriage, but advocates are somewhat optimistic about a reversal.  Two years ago, the Star-Ledger noted, Gov. Jon Corzine, who was strongly disliked by his own base and supported marriage equality, had lost his seat to Chris Christie, who was strongly liked by his base and opposed it.  Senator Steve Sweeney, who has since become the majority leader, had abstained from voting, but now says he should have voted for the bill.  Mr. Christie has said he opposes gay marriage.  It's not likely that he has changed his mind – although he hasn't commented on the new bill.  So the challenge will be for the Senate to pass a law allowing New Jersey residents to marry people of their same gender, with a veto proof majority.  Now let's set aside reality and travel to the Republican primary campaign ...  Rick Santorum made a big deal out of "social" issues like gay marriage in Iowa, where evangelical Christians helped fuel his strong finish.  But in New Hampshire, where social issues are not that important and gay marriage is legal, that's not such a great idea, and his campaign wanted to avoid the subject.     Read more
NBC's Taibbi Highlights Mitt Romney's Polygamist Ancestor and 'Controversial' Mormon Faith
By: Kyle Drennen
Media Research Center - Alexandria, Virginia
Originally published Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In a report on Monday's Rock Center on NBC, correspondent Mike Taibbi described how Mitt Romney's ancestors settled in Mexico during the late 1800's: "Mitt has said and written almost nothing about them over the years. One of his rare quotes, that they left the U.S. to escape persecution for their religious beliefs."  Taibbi then noted: "In fact, Mitt's great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, led that first expedition to escape not persecution but prosecution for polygamy, what Mormons called 'plural marriage.'"  Later, Taibbi cited one of Romney's Mexican cousins on the issue: "Mike, a church school administrator here, says Mitt should just tell the whole story, even about the family's polygamist past that died with the great-grandfather Miles."  Proclaiming that Mitt Romney has "publically ignored" his Mexican roots, Taibbi further asserted: "It's the Romney family's roots in the Mormon religion that remain controversial in Mexico, as in the U.S."  Taibbi observed: "Those strong and persistent anti-Mormon sentiments led to Mitt Romney's "Faith in America" address during his first presidential run four years ago....But for the most part, he hasn't publically discussed his religion in detail."     Read more
Quote of the Day
Taegan Goddard's Political Wire
Originally published January 13, 2012

"If you have someone who has lived a polygamous life, that would raise questions about their character and ability to obey the law. But the fact that somebody had been divorced and remarried -- so what? Infidelity?"

-- Herman Cain, quoted by the Daily Beast.
Romney's Mexican origins spark interest
Sky News Australia - Melbourne, Australia
Originally published Sunday January 15, 2012

Mitt Romney's Mexican origins have sparked a powerful reaction among the Latino online community in the US.  The reaction includes the creation on Twitter and Facebook of a Mexican alter ego of Romney who jokes about his candidacy for 'Presidente de los United States'.  Political blogs and Web sites speak of 'Primo Romney', while CNN has pondered whether Romney could technically be the first Hispanic US president if he wins the November elections.  Romney, who does not speak Spanish and opposes a path to legalisation for undocumented immigrants, has connections with Mexico that go back to when his great-grandfather, a Mormon like himself, moved south of the border to escape anti-polygamy laws.  As a result, the politician's father, George Romney, was born in Colonia Dublan, a Mormon settlement in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.  This allows Mitt Romney to be technically eligible for Mexican citizenship.  Romney won the Iowa caucus by a narrow margin before beating the field in New Hampshire and is the favourite in the January 21 South Carolina primary.     See photo
Gingrich, Romney Debate The Perfect Wife
By Tom Dworetzky
A New Yorker's Opinion
International Business Times - New York, New York
Originally published January 19, 2012

A friend reports on a conversation between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich overheard after the latest debate:

Mitt: So what's it like to have two women at the same time?

Newt: Not at the same time, never. I'm no pervert.

Mitt: You know what I mean, like two wives.

Newt: Don't be daft. I never had two wives. That would be immoral.

Mitt: Not necessarily.

Newt: Oh, right. You could have two wives.

Mitt: Don't be crazy. I love my wife, I would never do that.

Newt: C'mon, Mormons, right?

Mitt: You're attacking my religion? What are you, a bigot?

Newt: Well, you gotta admit, bigamy is more a Mormon thing than a Christian thing.     Read more
Maher strikes (out) again with polygamy punch line
By Joseph Walker
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Jan. 27 2012

Most people don't think that a battered woman is fodder for punch-line material.  But most people aren't Bill Maher.  The comedian — and we use that term loosely — stooped to a new low on "AC360" recently when he expressed his opinion that Mitt Romney would get the Republican presidential nomination, "and then I think (President Barack) Obama is going to beat him like a runaway sister wife."  Bah-dum-bum.  One assumes Maher's thought process flowed something like this: Romney = Mormon = polygamy = dirty old man and young sister wives = sister wife running away and being abused for it = funny.  Or something like that.  Never mind that the abuse of women and children in contemporary polygamy is a real and serious problem.  Forget that Romney's faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, abandoned the practice of polygamy 120 years ago.  Never let the truth get in the way of a good joke.  Or a bad joke, as the case may be.  Program host Anderson Cooper was obviously flustered by Maher's reference.  But rather than challenge the comment, he smiled weakly and noted that he hadn't heard "a FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) punch line in quite a while."     Read more
San Angelo DA candidates discuss issues
FLDS, DWI touched on at Tea Party event
By Matthew Waller
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published February 14, 2012

SAN ANGELO, Texas — From the raid on a polygamous sect to the handling of driving while intoxicated cases, candidates in San Angelo's district attorney races addressed a barrage of issues Tuesday at a San Angelo Tea Party meeting.  "This is not a debate," moderator and San Angelo Tea Party President Terry Campbell said.  "This is an informational forum."  Candidates nevertheless debated through the allotted, one-minute response time provided for candidates to interject.  Nathan Butler, Andrew Graves and Allison Palmer are running for the 51st District, and incumbent George McCrea and Evan Pierce-Jones are seeking the 119th position.  Palmer kicked off the night, saying her boss Steve Lupton, the retiring 51st district attorney, gave her an endorsement.  She spoke on issues including her involvement during the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints ranch raid in April 2008, which has brought 10 convictions on charges such as child sexual assault and bigamy.  Butler and Pierce-Jones helped coordinate the defense for FLDS members, but said they were proud of their work insofar as protecting their clients' legal rights.     Read more
Probation for man who pointed laser light at aircraft SW of Tucson
Kim Smith
Arizona Daily Star - Tucson, Arizona
Originally published Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A 20-year-old man who pointed a green laser light at a Pima County Sheriff's Department aircraft last July has been placed on one year of unsupervised probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct.  In exchange for Alma Jeffs' guilty plea, Pima County Superior Court Judge Deborah Bernini agreed to dismiss two felony endangerment counts.  Jeffs, a Colorado City man who is related to convicted polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs, is an electrician's apprentice, said his defense attorney, Michael Piccarreta.  Last July, Jeffs was using a laser to look at stars when he pointed it at the aircraft, Piccarreta said.  "He was horsing around and didn't realize it could have a significant impact," Piccarreta said.  At the time of Jeffs' arrest, sheriff's officials said the laser disoriented the flight crew.  The pilots used a camera and tracked the laser to a home in the 7500 block of South Climb Ivy Drive, near West Los Reales and South Wade roads.  Deputies went to the home and arrested Jeffs.  Jeffs will also have to pay a $250 fine, Piccarreta said.
Watch the Pima County Sheriff's Air Unit Video: Laser light illuminating cockpit from the Arizona Daily Star's web site
Incumbents discuss credentials
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Wednesday, February 29, 2012

BULLHEAD CITY — Four elected county officials recently spoke at the monthly Colorado River Republican Women's luncheon held at Chaparral Country Club. All four have no primary competition this year and — so far — no general election competitors.  Sheriff Tom Sheahan has been in law enforcement for 41 years.  He's been sheriff of Mohave County since 1996.  During his long career, Sheahan said he's learned "how to do some things and how not to do some things."  When he took over the sheriff's office, Sheahan said the MCSO had "the worst equipment in the state."  Now the MCSO's gear is "comparable to anybody in Arizona."  The sheriff's office has achieved a level of "stability," Sheahan said.  A prosecutor for 24 years, County Attorney Matt Smith accepted a job in Mohave County "sight unseen."  After moving to Kingman, Smith met his wife.  Smith shared his experiences in Colorado City, "which some people forget is part of Mohave County."  He said he wasn't able to arrest members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for polygamy, which is not a crime.  He nabbed the adult males for having sex with minors.  Smith said he's been working with his counterpart in Washington County, Utah, where Colorado City's twin community of Hildale is located.  Both the city manager and fire chief of Colorado City are under indictment for misuse of funds, Smith said.     Read more
Hildale City Justice Court Judicial Vacancy Announced
by Nancy Volmer
KCSG Television
Originally published March 7, 2012

(Hildale, UT) - Applications are being accepted for a Justice Court judge position in Hildale.  The position will replace Judge Richard Carr who has been hearing cases the past six years.  To be considered for the position, candidates must be at least 25 years of age, a citizen of the United States, a Utah resident for at least three years, and have earned a high school diploma or GED.  In addition, candidates must be a resident of the county in which the court is located - or an adjacent county - for at least six months.  Information on judicial retention and performance evaluation is posted on the Utah State Court's website at under employment opportunities.  An application for judicial office form must be completed and is available on the court's website.  The annual salary range for the part-time position is between $3,965 and $7,136.  For additional information, contact R. Blake Hamilton, attorney for Hildale City, at (801) 364-8300.  The deadline for applications is March 21, 2012 at 5:00PM and should be sent to the attention of Shari Veverka, Administrative Office of the Courts, P.O. Box 140241, Salt Lake City, UT 84114-0241 or faxed to (801) 578-3843.  For more information, e-mail or call (801) 578-3844.  Utah law requires that a local county Justice Court Nominating Commission be created with representatives appointed from the county commission, the municipalities, and the local Bar Association.  The Washington County Nominating Commission is tasked with submitting three to five names to Hildale City Mayor Phillip Barlow for consideration.  The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Hildale City Council and certification by the Utah Judicial Council.
Judge sought for Hildale
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published March 7, 2012

ST. GEORGE - The Utah State Courts office announced Wednesday it is accepting applications for a Justice Court judge position in Hildale.  Senior Judge Richard Carr, who has served in Hildale for the past six years, will step down from the bench, creating a vacancy in the court on the Utah state line southeast of Hurricane.  "He's been there on a temporary basis, and they want a permanent judge," Utah State Courts Public Information Officer Nancy Volmer said.  The judge will serve on a part-time basis and receive an annual salary between $3,965 and $7,136, according to a news release Volmer issued Wednesday.  Justice courts have the authority to deal with class-B and class-C misdemeanors, ordinance violations, small claims and infractions allegedly committed within their local jurisdictions.  For an applicant to be considered for the judgeship, the candidate must be at least 25 years of age, a citizen of the United States, a Utah resident for at least three years and have a high school diploma or GED.  In addition, candidates must have been a resident of the county in which the court is located, or of an adjacent county, for at least six months, according to the news release.     Read more
Bramham: Women's votes matter, as Republicans are learning — is anyone in Canada listening?
By Daphne Bramham
Postmedia News
The Vancouver Sun
Originally published March 9, 2012

VANCOUVER - As Republicans stumble through endless weeks of attempting to find an acceptable presidential candidate, the gender gap is back in America and wider than ever.  If the election were held now, the most recent poll suggests it would be a rout for Barack Obama and the Democrats.  And it would be because of female voters.  According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last Monday, 46 per cent of all female voters prefer the Democrats compared to 39 per cent for the Republicans.  But among suburban women - the influential soccer mom/hockey mom voters - the difference widens to 19 points, while male voters divide almost equally between the parties.  What's startling is that after 9/11, the difference between male and female voter preferences was virtually eliminated and it continued until as recently as last summer.  The Republicans' message of patriotism and family values reversed the decades-long trend of women choosing the Democrats.  So this turnaround has been as spectacular as it's been sudden, pollster Peter Hart said in an interview on CBC Radio.  It's been driven by the Republican candidates venturing into the quicksand of social issues including reproductive and women's rights.  Rick Santorum opposes abortion even in the case of rape.  Newt Gingrich talks about family values while Wife No. 3 looks on.  Meanwhile, front-runner Mitt Romney's flip-flop from pro-choice to anti-abortion leaves no room for confidence nor does his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which continues to oppose ratification of the equal rights amendment.     Read more
Senate confirms new federal judge for Utah; Lee votes no
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, March 22 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly confirmed David O. Nuffer as a federal judge Thursday, though one of Utah's senators did not vote for him.  Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has objected recently to President Barack Obama making "recess" appointments during a time when the Senate did not consider itself in recess.  The move bypassed the Senate's advise-and-consent role on four nominees in January.  Lee said Obama took power for himself that belongs to the Senate.  "Among the ways I have chosen to register my objection to these unconstitutional actions is to vote against the president's nominees for district and circuit court judgeships," he said.  Lee said he "continued taking this principled stance" by voting against Nuffer.  "I did so despite my unequivocal support for Judge Nuffer and my belief that he will be an excellent federal district court judge," he said.  Lee earlier expressed frustration with the time it was taking to confirm Nuffer, who was recommended by Sen. Orrin Hatch last June.  Hatch, R-Utah, said he knows Nuffer well, and that "he has the experience, temperament, and integrity to be a great federal judge. He's been involved in virtually all aspects of the Utah legal community and is widely respected by lawyers and judges throughout our state."     Read more
The polygamists in Obama and Romney's family trees
By David Maraniss
The Washington Post
Originally published April 12, 2012

David Maraniss, an associate editor of The Post, is the author of "First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton" and the forthcoming "Barack Obama: The Story." This is the third column in an occasional series on the 2012 presidential candidates' political lives.

For a biographer, the emerging matchup in the presidential campaign between Barack Hussein Obama and Willard Mitt Romney is about as American as it can get.  Although the candidates are noted for their innate caution, their family histories evoke a kind of exceptionalism that defines the United States — not in some gauzy and false way, but in the reality of a national fabric woven from exotic threads.  Where to start?  How about polygamy?  Perhaps it is true of most people if you go back far enough, but with Obama and Romney, it can be said with certitude that neither would exist had their ancestors not lived with many wives at once.     Read more
Candidates named for Hildale court vacancy
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published April 12, 2012

ST. GEORGE - Three Washington County residents have been named candidates to fill a judicial vacancy in the Hildale Justice Court.  K. Jake Graff of Washington City, Karlin S. Myers of Ivins and Manuel M. Palma of St. George were named as the selections Tuesday by the nominating commission responsible for replacing Judge Richard Carr, a retired judge who has presided over the court for the past six years.  Utah State Courts Public Information Officer Nancy Volmer said Carr has been serving on a temporary basis in the court located on the Utah state line southeast of Hurricane, and the court system was seeking a more permanent replacement.  Graff is an attorney with the legal firm Bingham Snow and Caldwell and a former attorney at the Dunn Law Firm in St. George, practicing commercial litigation, construction law and domestic relations and family law.  Myers is the judge presiding over Hurricane's Justice Court.  He has served there since July 2005 and previously maintained a private law firm with an emphasis on criminal defense.  Palma is a retired inspector with the Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration's field office in Boulder City, Nev.     Read more
Utah town sets risky dissolution vote
Associated Press
San Antonio Express-News - San Antonio, Texas
Originally published Saturday, April 14, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — For tiny, picturesque Apple Valley, a vote to dissolve town government could bring an unwanted suitor: the neighboring polygamous town.  Officials in Apple Valley, tucked under the red rock mountains of Zion National Park, fear a disincorporation effort fanned by internal strife and anti-government sentiment could backfire and lead to annexation by Hildale, a neighboring town largely comprised of members of the polygamous sect run by its jailed leader leader Warren Jeffs.  "I would say the majority of Apple Valley residents don't want to have anything to do with that," Mayor Richard Moser told The Associated Press.  "There's a lot of — how do you put it nicely — stigma."  Still, a town vote for disincorporation is set for June 19, a date authorized by a state judge last week based on petitions signed by 111 of 701 residents, enough to force the issue.  Apple Valley was first incorporated in 2004 "because of fear" that polygamists would seize an opportunity to widen their municipal borders and "swallow us up," said longtime resident Marie McGowan.  "We were scared the fundamentalists were going to incorporate Apple Valley," she said.     Read more
House OKs Ariz. bill protecting licensed workers
New England Cable News - Newton, Massachusetts
Originally published April 16, 2012

PHOENIX (AP) — In what supporters describe as a pre-emptive and protective measure, Arizona House lawmakers on Monday advanced legal protections for workers who deny services to potential clients on religious grounds.  Proponents acknowledge that there were no known incidents of faith-based discipline in Arizona but say the bill is a reaction to cases in states such as Michigan — where a student counselor was disciplined after refusing to work with a gay client, saying she did so because of her religious beliefs.  Republican Sen. Steve Yarbrough, introduced the legislation, saying it's "fundamentally wrong" that if "you don't affirm the particular lifestyle, then your license is going to be at risk."  Critics say the bill endangers public safety.  Stuart Goodman, a lobbyist who represents several health-related state boards, says the measure allows "a licensee to commit unprofessional conduct simply because they can play a religious freedom component that may or may not exist."  The measure ensures Arizona workers would not lose their professional licenses for denying services on religious grounds.  The bill is a broader version of the so-called conscience clause, which many states — including Arizona — have recognized for pharmacists, physicians or other health care workers who decline to perform abortions or prescribe emergency contraceptives.  The measure now heads to the state Senate, where it is expected to pass.  Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed similar legislation last year, saying she feared it could protect misconduct by Arizona police who are followers of polygamous-sect leader Warren Jeffs and have been accused of refusing to enforce the law.     Read more
Montana governor defends 'polygamy' remarks regarding Romney's heritage
CNN Political Ticker
Originally published April 22, 2012

(CNN) - Montana's Democratic governor defended himself from criticism Monday over remarks he made last week that appeared to tie Mitt Romney, the likely Republican presidential nominee, to the practice of polygamy within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" he was trying to point out Romney struggles in connecting with Latino voters when he claimed Romney's "family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico" in an interview with The Daily Beast.  "People are taking this far away from where I was discussing," Schweitzer said.  "I was saying that Mitt Romney currently has a problem with Latino voters. And it is ironic that his father had come from Mexico. You could think he could embrace his Latino roots."  Some Mormon families moved to Mexico in the 19th century to escape religious persecution in the United States, and many men who moved had multiple wives.  The LDS church outlawed polygamy in 1890, but men with multiple wives were able to escape prosecution by moving across the border.  Romney's ancestors settled in an area 180 miles south of the Mexico-United States border.  The candidate's father, George, who served as governor of Michigan and ran for president in the 1960s, was born in 1907 in the Mexican town of Colonia Dublan, in the state of Chihuahua.  Neither Romney's father nor his grandfather were involved in polygamous marriages.  There are still about 40 members of the Romney family living in Colonia Juarez, some of whom are the presidential candidate's first and second cousins.     Read more
CNN: Mexico was a 'polygamy haven' for the Romneys
by Charlie Spiering
Campaign 2012
Washington Examiner - Washington DC
Originally published April 24, 2012

Last night, CNN featured an in-depth news report on Mitt Romney's great-grandfather who moved to Mexico from America to escape Mormon persecution.  "Many of the men came with multiple wives," reports CNN correspondent Gary Tuchman from Mexico.  "So while there was also concern about persecution, there was also concern of prosecution."  "There was no such concern in Mexico," adds Tuchman, reminding the audience that the Mormon church in America got rid of polygamy in 1890.  "Mexico at that time remained a polygamy haven," he added.  "He had four wives, he moved here, and he basically started this family tree that exists to this day," Tuchman remarks to Kelly Romney, one of Mitt's second-cousins, about their great-grandfather.  "Yes," answered Romney shortly.  My question to you, "Is there any polygamy still here?" asks Tuchman.  "No, there is no polygamy in this area at all, no." responds Kelly Romney.  Romney supporters are easily angered by media attention dedicated to the history of polygamy in Romney's family.  "I think that it ought to be off limits," Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition noted last night to CNN's Anderson Cooper, reminding Cooper of the history of polygamy in President Obama's family as well.  "I personally as a person of faith, as well as a civic participant just think that we shouldn't be talking about this," Reed said.  If polygamy is important to CNN, why haven't they sent correspondents to Indonesia to talk with Obama's second-cousins about the history of polygamy in their family?
Democrat defends comments on Mitt Romney and polygamy
By Justin Sink
Campaign 2012
The Hill - Washington DC
Originally published April 24, 2012

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) said Monday that his comments about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's father being "born on a polygamy commune in Mexico" were being manipulated unfairly.  Schweitzer said he was merely trying to convey the irony that Romney has a problem with Latino voters when his father is from Mexico.  "People are taking this far away from where I was discussing," Schweitzer told CNN.  "I was saying that Mitt Romney currently has a problem with Latino voters. And it is ironic that his father had come from Mexico," he said.  "You could think he could embrace his Latino roots. I wasn't talking about anybody's religion. In fact, in my comments I simply said that Mitt Romney is not a polygamist, doesn't support polygamy and neither does the Mormon church."  Republicans have criticized Schweitzer's comments, which came in the middle of a discussion on presidential swing states.  The Montana governor argued Romney would have a "tall order to position Hispanics to vote for him."  When Ben Jacobs of the Daily Beast noted that was ironic because Romney's father had been born in Mexico, Schweitzer said Romney couldn't mention his heritage because it carried political liability.  "[It is] kinda ironic given that his family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico, but then he'd have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico, given the gender discrepancy," Schweitzer said.  The Montana governor went on to say the issue of polygamy could hurt Romney with female voters.     Read more
Arizona Legislature OKs worker bill, tax cut in late flurry
News from The Arizona Republic
by Mary Jo Pitzl and Alia Beard Rau
Arizona Republic News
Tuscon Citizen
Originally published May 03, 2012

The Arizona Legislature wrapped up its session Thursday by approving a wide-ranging business and capital-gains tax-cut package and passing a bill to make it easier to fire some state employees.  The personnel measure had been one of Gov. Jan Brewer's top priorities.  The 50th regular session adjourned at 8:25 p.m., ending 116 days of ethics investigations, statehood centennial celebrations and heated debates on guns, women's health care and political redistricting, some of which took place in the national spotlight.  On Thursday, legislative leaders gave a quick makeover to a long-lingering tax-cut bill, House Bill 2815, and pushed through an amended version despite protests that it was too complex to absorb in the final hours of the session.  They paired it with another tax bill, Senate Bill 1442, designed to benefit large manufacturing plants, ignoring complaints from city and town officials that last-minute changes would reduce their state-shared revenue.  Together, the two tax measures pick up where last year's $538 million jobs bill left off.  This year's package cuts individual- and corporate-income taxes, reduces the business equipment tax, and pours a share of state construction sales tax into local infrastructure projects to benefit large manufacturing projects.     Read more
Debate over 'call to the public' highlight of candidates forum
Mohave Daily News - Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Originally published Friday, May 11, 2012

BULLHEAD CITY — A debate over "call to the public" at Mohave County Board of Supervisors meetings broke out at Wednesday's candidates forum for District 2.  The forum, closed to the public, was held during the Mohave Valley Contractors Association's monthly dinner meeting.  Present were Sup. Tom Sockwell (R-Bullhead City), and Republican challenger Hildy Angius.  Another GOP challenger, Kory Burgess, announced he was withdrawing from the race in favor of Angius.  A fourth Republican candidate, Felix Romant, was not able to attend, citing a previous commitment.  Independent candidate, Larry Tunforss, also attended the forum.  It's a bone of contention that the board of supervisors does not have a call to the public, which allows citizens to speak before the board about issues not on the agenda.  In explaining why he opposes call to the public, Sockwell said, "It's not a level playing field for everybody in this county. What you're going to get is about a half a dozen people — local people — that will be there every week talking. What are you going to do about the people in Colorado City? What are you going to do about the people in Lake Havasu or Wikieup? Those people have to drive a long way just to use call to the public and I don't think it's fair."  Angius replied, "Sup. Sockwell: Because some people can't come, nobody can come. Is that what you're saying? That's ridiculous."     Read more
Romney's birth certificate evokes his father's controversy
George Romney faced his own 'birther' issue in 1968 presidential race
By Mark Hosenball
Originally published May 29, 2012

WASHINGTON — Finally, there is definitive proof: The presidential candidate was born in the United States, and his father was not.  Yes, Republican Mitt Romney appears eligible to be president, according to a copy of Romney's birth certificate released to Reuters by his campaign.  Willard Mitt Romney, the certificate says, was born in Detroit on March 12, 1947.  His mother, Lenore, was born in Utah and his father, former Michigan governor and one-time Republican presidential candidate George Romney, was born in Mexico.  So on a day when real estate and media mogul Donald Trump was trying to help Mitt Romney by stirring up a new round of questions about whether Democratic President Barack Obama was born in the United States, Romney's own birth record became a reminder that in the 1968 presidential campaign, his father had faced his own "birther" controversy.  Back then, George Romney - who died in 1995 - was a moderate who was challenging eventual President Richard Nixon in the Republican primaries.  Records in a George Romney archive at the University of Michigan describe how questions about his eligibility to be president surfaced almost as soon as he began his short-lived campaign.  In many ways, they appear to echo today's complaints that Trump and some other conservative "birthers" have made about Obama while questioning whether Obama - whose father was from Kenya and mother was from Kansas - was born in Hawaii.     Read more
New federal judge takes oath of office in Salt Lake City
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, May 29 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — A new federal judge took the oath of office Tuesday.  David Nuffer became the 16th U.S. District Court judge for Utah at a swearing-in ceremony at the Frank E. Moss Courthouse.  President Barack Obama nominated Nuffer in June to fill a vacancy created in November 2009 when Judge Dale A. Kimball took senior status.  The Senate confirmed Nuffer in March.  Nuffer had been serving as a U.S. magistrate judge since 1995, handling mostly misdemeanor crimes.  He practiced law in St. George for 25 years.  His appointment brings the number of full-time federal judges in Utah to four, one short of a full complement.  Obama appointed Salt Lake lawyer Robert J. Shelby last November to fill the other vacancy.  His confirmation is pending.

Twitter: dennisromboy
    See photo
Apple Valley residents vote to keep town
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published June 19, 2012

ST. GEORGE — A campaign to dissolve the municipal government in Apple Valley failed tonight, with residents in the small Washington County town voting to keep the town in place.  According to preliminary results released just after 10 p.m. today, residents voted 167 to 115 to preserve the government after months of campaigning by advocates on both sides of the measure.  While some of those differences of opinion are unlikely to go away any time soon, town officials were hopeful that the election result would put to rest at least some of the friction between residents.  "Now we can move forward and do the things that we need to do," Mayor Rick Moser said.  Lanie Groves, a resident who helped organize the disincorporation effort, said he didn't want to comment on preliminary results provided by the town election officials, saying he wanted to wait for official word.  He also said he would not pursue a further disincorporation effort if this one were to fail, saying others had approached him to get the effort going.  "It's up to the people. You can only let the people have a vote," he said.     Read more
Utah Town Votes Against Dissolving Government
By Paul Foy
Associated Press
ABC News
Originally published Wednesday, June 20 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — Voters in a tiny Utah town have struck down a measure that would have dissolved their town government, rejecting a proposal that some said would have led to annexation by a nearby polygamist community.  Preliminary results showed Apple Valley residents voting 167 to 115 against disbanding the town government, town clerk Nathan Bronemann said Tuesday night.  Apple Valley became a town in 2004, and some residents said officials haven't adequately provided basic services.  "We're not anti-government. We're anti-Apple Valley government," resident Debi Groves said Tuesday, adding that she had little faith in town leaders.  "It's an oligarchy. You cannot break into it."  Groves discounted fears that neighboring Hildale — a town controlled by jailed polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs — could stage a municipal takeover if Apple Valley were to abolish itself.  "They have no interest in having us in their town," Groves said.  "They're neighborly and help out in emergencies, but otherwise don't want anything to do with us."     Read more
Readers provides a poem for Mitt Romney's campaign
Letters To The Editor
The Spectrum
Originally published June 28, 2012

Don't forget to vote for Mitt.

He has guts and he has grit.

Just because he is a Mormon,

Don't throw him in the pit.

He doesn't want to just sit.

He doesn't have two horns and ten wives.

He just wants to help us improve our lives.

After stint in house, McLain running for state senate
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Monday, July 2, 2012

BULLHEAD CITY — District 3 State Rep. Nancy McLain (R-Bullhead City) is term-limited, and is now a candidate for the state senate.  She faces businessman Sam Scarmardo and Dr. Kelli Ward, both of Lake Havasu City, on the Aug. 28 GOP primary ballot.  The economy remains the top issue, McLain said.  Nationally, "No one thinks that we're in any sort of a recovery."  The state's economy is showing some signs of life "but we're not out of the woods yet. We've got several issues coming up. The largest of which is the end of the 1 percent sales tax."  Arizonans voted the in the tax as a temporary three-year, tax to help fund education, health services, and public safety.  It expires in May 2013.  "We've made provisions for (the 1 percent sales tax expiration) in the budget," McLain said. "We have to be prudent about what we do in the next few years so we don't get ourselves back in a mess again, so I think it's important that you have an experienced legislator there who's been through these battles and who knows what the pitfalls are and can help to avoid those pitfalls."     Read more
Romney Ad Highlights Ties To Mexico
By Laurel Morales
KNAU Arizona Public Radio - Flagstaff, Arizona
Originally published July 19, 2012

A new campaign ad for Mitt Romney features his Spanish-speaking son.  The spot highlights Romney's family ties to Mexico.  Craig Romney talks about his grandfather George, who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico.  The Romney family fled to Mexico in the 1880s to avoid anti-polygamy laws.  In a January interview with Univision, Mitt Romney said it would be "disingenuous" of him to claim Mexican heritage.  So why shine a light on those connections now?  Northern Arizona University political science professor Stephen Nuρo says the ads are the only way Romney has to identify with the country's large Latino population.  "Unless he picks an Hispanic vice president or has some sort of high-profile Hispanic campaigning for him, he doesn't have a whole lot of options to reach out to the Latino community and create some sort of common experience with Latinos," Nuρo said.  "And fleeing the United States because of religious persecution is not necessarily a story that's common among Latinos in the United States."  Craig Romney also promised his dad will work on federal immigration reform.  But Nuρo said the presidential candidate hasn't said with certainty what that will look like.  During primary season Romney suggested his idea of reform would resemble Arizona's "show me your papers" law.     See photo
New campaign ad touts Romney's Spanish-speaking son, Mexican-born father
By Achy Obejas
WBEZ 91.5 - Chicago, Illinois
Originally published July 21, 2012

Remember back in the day when Mitt Romney told Univisiσn that talking about his father, George, and suggesting that his birth in Mexico somehow gave him some sort of link to Latinos would be "disingenuous"?  His position seemed remarkably honest.  But then, just as Latinos garnered the spotlight, Mitt started to talk about how George was Mexican-born.  Of course, he never mentioned the crucial context of his father's birth: That he was born in Mexico in a polygamous colony that had broken off from the larger Mormon Church when the church dropped its acceptance of multiple wives in order to get Utah admitted to the Union.  And now Romney has gone one step further, actually suggesting his father — who was a U.S. citizen and once ran for the presidency of this country — was an immigrant.  This is his campaign's new ad, featuring Spanish-fluent son Craig, and running in the Latino-flushed swing states of Nevada, Florida, Colorado, Ohio and North Carolina (yeah, North Carolina).     Read more
Elder Snow appointed to presidential advisory council
By Joseph Walker
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, July 26 2012

Elder Steven E. Snow of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been appointed to the President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, according to a press release issued today by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.  The Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships website indicates that it exists to form "partnerships between government at all levels and nonprofit organizations, both secular and faith-based, to more effectively serve Americans in need."  "The faith-based office is made up of leaders of religions from across our great country, and Elder Snow's appointment ensures that the LDS faith will have a seat at the table," Sen. Hatch said in the release.  "Elder Snow has provided dedicated service to the (LDS) Church and I know he will serve as a valuable member of the President's Advisory Council."  Elder Snow has been a general authority of the LDS Church since 2001.  He currently serves as LDS Church historian and recorder and as executive director of the Church History Department.  Prior to his call to full-time church service he was an attorney and served as president of his local school board, as chairman of the Utah State Board of Regents and as chairman of the Western States Commission of Higher Education.     See photo
St. George native to serve on Obama advisory council
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published July 27, 2012

ST. GEORGE — A St. George native serving in the general world leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be the first of the church's officials to serve on President Barack Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  Obama announced Thursday that he intended to appoint Elder Steven Snow, a member of the LDS Church's First Quorum of the Seventy and a former member of that quorum's presidency, to a position on the council.  The First Quorum of the Seventy is the LDS church's third-highest governing body, working under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  The mission of the Obama Administration's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is to form partnerships between government at all levels and community nonprofit organizations to more effectively serve Americans in need, according to the office's website.  The advisory council is a group of 25 leaders who forms recommendations on how the federal government can more effectively partner with faith-based and neighborhood organizations.  Each member of the advisory council serves a one-year term.  Snow and Maria Nagorski, the executive director of the nonprofit child welfare organization Fair Chance, were the two people Obama designated for the council in Thursday's announcement.     Read more
Radio host Les Kinsolving asked "How does the president [Obama] stand on polygamy?"
during the White House Press briefing July 31, 2012.

A look into Romney's religion
(CNN)–For many voters, getting to know Mitt Romney as a candidate
also means sorting out facts from fiction about Mormonism.
CNN's Gary Tuchman reports - August 21st, 2012

Polygamists See Themselves In Romney, Obama Family Trees
The presidential candidates' many great-grandmothers are the talk of the compound. "Why did [Romney] have to be so strong against it?"
McKay Coppins
BuzzFeed Staff
BuzzFeed, Inc. - New York City
Originally published August 21, 2012

ROCKY RIDGE, Utah — About 60 miles south of Salt Lake City, at the end of a long, winding, dirt road off the highway, a small cluster of houses sits at the foot of a desert mountain.  The neighborhood landscape is littered with children's things — plastic playground equipment, abandoned toys — and the backyards are covered in clotheslines, with denim shorts and Sunday dresses of all sizes hanging off them like ornaments.  But the houses themselves command the most attention.  They look as if someone took a bunch of starter homes and glued them together with communal kitchens and shared garages.  The structures' aesthetics vary, from utilitarian ranches with unpainted decks to well-kept A-frames with manicured lawns.  And virtually every structure is in a state of renovation, expanding and shape-shifting to make room for more beds, more groceries, more children — and more wives.  This is Rocky Ridge, Utah, one of the fastest-growing polygamist communes in the country, and an unlikely symbol of a genealogical subplot that links America's two main presidential candidates.  While neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama is keen to talk about it publicly, the family trees of both are rooted in polygamy, a practice that, for each candidate, has defined generations of family history.     Read more
The Polygamist Connection
Taegan Goddard's Political Wire - New York, New York
Originally published August 22, 2012

McKay Coppins: "While neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama is keen to talk about it publicly, the family trees of both are rooted in polygamy, a practice that, for each candidate, has defined generations of family history."

"It's a connection that's been largely ignored by the campaign chroniclers this year, without any objection from the candidates, both of whom have had to grapple with far less exotic biographical eccentricities. But while reporters may relegate the men's polygamist roots to a footnote in the broad story of the election, the candidates' common background is being celebrated across the diverse spectrum of American polygamy."
Polygamists for Gary Johnson
By David Weigel
Slate Magazine, a Division of the Washington Post Company
Originally published Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012

Read every single word of McKay Coppins's look at the "polygamist moment." Has anybody previously pointed out that both parties' presidential candidates have polygamy in their family trees, and not been immediately shouted down for crimethink? No, right? Good for Coppins. By actually talking to polygamists, he learns that they've noticed what Republicans and Democrats say about them. Joe Darger, a polygamist who's become very public about it, says that he's only at home in the Libertarian Party.
Come November, he said he will probably stay true to his libertarian beliefs and pull the lever for Gary Johnson. Earlier this year, Darger and his wives were invited to address the Libertarian Party convention, and Johnson reassured them that he doesn't believe government should have any place regulating marriage.
It's true.  Here's a full 35-minute video of Darger and his wives addressing the Utah Libertarian Party, explaining why Bill O'Reilly is the "epitome of what a self-righteous Republican is," and explaining why the "save marriage!" crowd on the right is a thread to his freedom.  "We don't want legal recognition," says Darger.  "Really, what we want is the government to stay out of our lives."
COMMENT: Family issues take on life of their own in US election
Dennis Atkins
The Courier-Mail
Herald Sun - Melbourne, Australia
Originally published August 22, 2012

Barack Obama's grandfather grew up in a polygamist culture in Kenya and Mitt Romney's grandfather lived on a polygamist Mormon commune in Mexico.  There have been claims that when the President's father, Barack Obama Sr, moved to the US from Kenya he was still married to a woman there and remained so after he took Stanley Ann Dunham, Obama's mother, as a wife.  This extraordinary detail was relayed by US academic and Middle East expert Daniel Pipes at a dinner in Canberra last week during a discussion on the election and some of the peculiarities of the presidential race.  Religion plays a big part.  This is the first time the Republican ticket has not featured a Protestant, with Romney being a Mormon and his running mate, Paul Ryan, a devout Catholic.  In fact, the only Protestant running in November is the incumbent, African-American Obama, who comes from a Baptist background. His Vice-President is Joe Biden, who comes from solid Irish-American Catholic stock. Religion will also feature in the background on two issues - gay marriage and women's rights.     Read more
Kingman voters have lots of choices in primary election
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published August 26, 2012

Arizona Senate hopefuls opine

Arizona Senate District 5 candidates responded in writing to the following question:

Please state, in detail, a specific policy, program or law you would prioritize and work to implement in your first year in office, and explain the importance of achieving that goal.

Bullhead City Republican Nancy McLain:  While the debate on SB1433 (Colorado City marshal's office) was still going on, Rep. (Doris) Goodale and I promised that we would work during the interim to investigate what could be done to monitor police agencies throughout the state. Now, AZPOST (Arizona Police Officers Standards and Training Board) can only address individual officers' conduct. We have prevailed on the speaker of the house to form a committee, which has already met once and will be meeting again soon, that is doing just that.

Pending the results of these discussions, I plan to sponsor a bill that will establish some procedures that can be used when there are questions about possible wrongdoing within any police department.

This is important because there are reports of other police departments having systemic problems, and SB1433 was said by some to have been applicable to these situations. But this bill was crafted so specifically, using exact timelines, that it would not have covered other situations.
    Read more
Why author Judith Freeman says Mitt Romney owes her money
By Carolyn Kellogg
Los Angeles Times
Originally published August 27, 2012

Mitt Romney owes Judith Freeman money if you follow their genealogies back a few generations, to the time of the Mormon settlement of the West, she says.  Freeman is the author of the biography "The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved" and three novels; Romney is expected to be nominated by Republican delegates at the convention this week as their candidate for president.  The financial connection was between Romney's great-grandfather Miles P. Romney and Freeman's great-grandfather William Jordan Flake.  Both were devoted to the Mormon teachings of Brigham Young.  Each had taken additional spouses, as they had been told to do.  By the 1880s, both families found themselves in northern Arizona, part of a Mormon plan to create a corridor of Mormon communities from Utah to Mexico.  The problem was that Arizona, still a territory, didn't cotton to polygamists, and the law was about to be used against Romney and Flake.     Read more
Mormons and Polygamy: Truths, Lies and Ambiguities
Gregory A. Prince, Ph.D. and Helen C. Whitney
The Huffington Post
Originally published August 27, 2012

The old stereotypes about Mormons -- polygamy, theocracy, blood atonement -- have generally faded, but as the older and darker images have receded, new concerns have replaced them. Some reflect lack of knowledge, others are grounded in accurate knowledge, and yet others are based on false assumptions thought by the holders to be true. Where religion was once taboo as grist for polite conversation, it is now pervasive within the public square. Due in large measure to the candidacy of Mitt Romney, the Mormon Moment provides for unending chatter and speculation, rarely burdened by documentation: "Mormonism is a cult. It is a theocracy. Mormons still practice polygamy. They baptize the dead. They baptize in behalf of the dead, including Holocaust victims whose extended families find the practice invasive and offensive. They march in lockstep politically. They practice disturbing, secret rites in their temples, which are closed to the public. They worship Jesus. They worship Joseph Smith. They worship Angel Moroni. They are clannish. They are wealthy, individually and institutionally. They believe they will become gods. They believe they are foreordained to save the United States Constitution. They believe the Garden of Eden was in Missouri." Given the plethora of misinformation and suspicion, it is not surprising that Jacob Weisberg described Mormonism as "Scientology plus 125 years" (Slate, December 20, 2006).     Read more
Author Wants Romney to Repay Polygamist Great Granddad's 130-Year-Old Debt
Alexander Abad-Santos
The Atlantic Wire - Washington, D.C.
Originally published August 28, 2012

Author Judith Freeman wants $25,000 from Mitt Romney since, as she wrote in The Los Angeles Review of Books,in the 1880s her great grandfather, William Flake paid for Miles Romney's bail when they were both locked up for polygamy.  "Miles P. Romney skipped out on his bail, fleeing across the border into Mexico with his three wives, Hannah, Annie, and Catharine, and their children," Freeman wrote in the Review over the weekend.  "He left my great-grandfather [William] Flake holding the bag. Flake, on the other hand, was eventually sent to the Yuma Territorial Prison where he served out a six-month sentence for polygamy," she added.  Of course one of the big (answerable) questions is after 130 years, why does Freeman, author of a Raymond Chandler biography and three other novels, want the money now and not earlier.  And, of course, Mitt Romney coming from a family of bill-skipping, law-ducking polygamists, isn't exactly what the Republicans want floating out there right around convention time.  She writes:     Read more
Romney Debt Unpaid For Generations, Author Says, Wants Mitt To Pay Up
The Inquisitr - Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
Originally published August 29, 2012

Mitt Romney's ancestor left a debt, author Judith Freeman says, and she wants the big-pocketed candidate to pay up what she believes she is owed for a many-decades old dispute over polygamy and the laws of the time surrounding the practice.  The Romney debt goes back to the 1880s, and involves Freeman's great-grandfather William Flake, a polygamist, and Romney's ancestor Miles Romney.  According to Freeman, the Romney debt stems from the Romney ancestor jumping bail and fleeing to Mexico, where Mitt's dad was born.  This weekend, Freeman explained how her great-grandpa had been jailed and stuck with Miles Romney's debt for his bail bond when the elder Romney fled south of the border with his wives and kids:
"Miles P. Romney skipped out on his bail, fleeing across the border into Mexico with his three wives, Hannah, Annie, and Catharine, and their children ... He left my great-grandfather [William] Flake holding the bag. Flake, on the other hand, was eventually sent to the Yuma Territorial Prison where he served out a six-month sentence for polygamy."
    Read more
Mitt Romney's Mexican Roots
By Amy Bingham
ABC News
Originally published August 30, 2012

During a convention that spotlighted nine Latino speakers, featured at least four speaking in Spanish and offered an array of Latino-focused events, Mitt Romney touted his own Mexican roots in a autobiographical video broadcast to the Republican National Convention just hours before Romney himself took the stage.  The GOP nominee touted his immigrant grandparents as "refugees of a revolution."  But unlike many of the speakers that came before him, Romney's grandparents did not seek refuge in America, they fled it.  In 1885, Romney's great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, fled to Mexico to escape America's anti-polygamy laws.  Along with a group of his fellow Mormons, Miles Park Romney, who had four wives and 30 children, settled in Chihuahua, Mexico, where polygamy was still legal.  It was there in Mexico that Mitt Romney's grandfather, Gaskell Romney, grew up and where his father, George Romney, was born.  Gaskell and George Romney moved back to America before Mitt Romney was born to avoid the violence of the Mexican Revolution.  While Romney does not often mention his Mexican roots, his son, Craig, who is fluent in Spanish, touted his father's bi-cultural past in a Spanish-language campaign ad.     Read more
Some Voters Worried About All Those Wives Mitt Romney Probably Has
By Dan Amira
New York Magazine
Originally published September 11, 2012

Under ideal conditions, democratic elections are decided by fully informed voters making rational decisions based on that information. In reality:
Several of those interviewed in Lynchburg were devotees of the TV series "Big Love" and "Sister Wives," about polygamous Mormon families. They were unaware that the Mormon Church long ago renounced polygamy.

"Mormons don't believe like we believe," said Dianna McCullough, a retired factory worker, as she tossed salad in a Tree of Life Ministries soup kitchen. "Like the wives — Romney's probably got more than one."
This woman's vote counts just as much as yours. Actually, since she lives in a swing state, it counts more.     See photo
Why "Binders Full of Women" Was Such a Curious Thing for a Mormon to Say
Tracie Egan Morrissey
Jezebel - New York, New York
Originally published October 17, 2012

"Binders full of women" struck such a chord with the Internet after Mitt Romney said it during last night's debate, because it's just a really weird thing to say. It conjures up the mental image of a man sifting through the pages of a homemade catalog of females, as though he's lady-shopping. It's kind of creepy, and maybe you couldn't put your finger on exactly why. But maybe it's because before this, "binders full of women" already had some association with creepiness, and like Romney, with Mormonism.

Known as the "joy book," it's a register that the FLDS prophet allegedly keeps of girls who are eligible for marriage, most of whom are underage, and it serves as a dating pool for fundamentalist Mormon men looking to add more wives to their homes. While the "joy books" have been discussed by members of the faith that had fled their compounds before being married off to older men without their consent, they were most famously featured on an episode of Big Love, in which they're depicted, quite literally, as binders full of young women.     Read more
Meet the Romneys of Mexico
Edgar Munoz
Tucson Sentinel
Originally published October 31, 2012

CASAS GRANDES, CHIHUAHUA, Mexico — Mitt Romney's father was born in Mexico, but the Republican candidate seldom speaks of his family's time there.  It turns out that some of his extended clan still live south of the border.  The Romneys of Mexico reside in the hills of Casas Grandes (meaning "big houses") in Chihuahua, about 190 miles from Texas.  The town is home to some 8,000 people.  As many as 50 of them claim to be related to the man in a tight race with Barack Obama to be America's next president.  Of those relatives, many of the men have Anglo names and speak fluent English.  They are taller and have fairer hair and complexion than most of their Mexican neighbors.  Some bear a striking resemblance to the former Massachusetts governor.  They are members of Mexico's Mormon community, whose roots can be traced to pioneers who ventured from Arizona and Utah in the late 1800s.  And they are by no means humble "campesinos."  They worship at a temple made of marble, whose lavish gold-trim interior nobody but Mormons is allowed to enter.  Their homes are mansions by Mexican standards — featuring three floors, many rooms and manicured yards with French-style fountains.  Romney's Mexican clan are powerful farmers.  They grow vast fields of peppers, peaches, pairs and apples.  Through a farm cooperative called Paquime, they export the high-quality produce to the United States.     Read more
Authors to Discuss Books on Polygamy, Electoral College in Malibu
The discussion will take place this weekend during the grand opening celebrations at Bank of Books in Malibu.
By Jessica E. Davis
Malibu Patch - Malibu, California
Originally published November 2, 2012

Local authors Everett and Zoe Murdock will take on two issues related to the 2012 presidential election this weekend at Bank of Books in Malibu.  The event, which is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, is part of a 10-day grand opening celebration at Bank of Books at 29169 Heathercliff Road in Malibu.  Zoe Murdock said she will read and discuss her book, Torn by God, a novel based on her father's exploration of polygamy when she was a child, which devastated her mother.  The book shows the dichotomy between the original doctrine of the Mormon Church, which included polygamy, and current Mormon doctrine, which makes polygamy grounds for excommunication, she said.  Zoe said she will be prepared to discuss Mormonism and how it has been frequently been raised during Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.  "The issues raised by my book, Torn by God, are more about Romney's Mormon belief system and how that might influence his decisions if he were to become our next president," Zoe said.  "Some people have suggested that he would legalize polygamy given that his great, great grandfather practiced polygamy and because the doctrine was only rescinded because of pressure from the U.S. Government. I think that line of thinking is ludicrous."     Read more
Romney's Mexican cousins rooting for him in U.S. election
Romney's great-grandfather moved to Mexico in 1880s
By Dave Graham
Originally published Tue Nov 6, 2012

COLONIA JUAREZ, Nov 6 (Reuters) - In a lush desert oasis in northern Mexico that Republican challenger Mitt Romney has never visited, his Mormon cousins are praying he will win the keys to the White House - and once in the door, rethink his immigration policies.  Kent Romney, 67, a fruit grower and distributor of fruit-packing supplies, said as Americans voted on Tuesday that his second cousin Mitt would make a good president.  "He has shown in the past he knows how to reach across the aisle and create consensus," he said, although he added that he hoped Romney would address immigration reform if he were elected.  "Making things so tough that people would go home by themselves is not a realistic option," he said.  Republicans generally back strict controls against illegal immigration and Romney took a hard line in the presidential primaries, saying he supported what he called self-deportation for illegal immigrants.  President Barack Obama had the edge in the race for the White House late on Tuesday with wins in key swing states that limited Romney's path to victory as U.S. voters decided a hotly contested election.  Mitt Romney's great-grandfather Miles P. Romney crossed south of the border in the 1880s, like other early Mormon settlers in Mexico fleeing U.S. marshals who were seeking to arrest him for practicing polygamy.  His descendants still live in Mormon enclaves in the state of Chihuahua about 200 miles (320 km) from the U.S. border and near where Mitt's father, George Romney, was born.     Read more
Utah Attorney General reflects on 12 years in office
by Ben Winslow
Fox13 News
Originally broadcast December 27, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — Green Post-It notes litter the Attorney General's Office at the Utah State Capitol.  They're on mementos that Mark Shurtleff has accumulated in his 12 years as the state's top attorney.  Boxes are also stacking up in his office as he prepares to move out after three terms in office.  "I'm excited for a new page, a new chapter," Shurtleff said while holding his grandkids in his lap.  "But I am going to miss serving the public."  In a wide-ranging interview with FOX 13 on Thursday, Shurtleff looked back on his time in office with a sense of accomplishment.  "There are so many different things we tackled, our priorities with each new term," he said.  "Like methamphetamine — we led the nation, and within four years we got that cut down by 98 percent. Then we moved on to things like prescription drug abuse. Internet crimes against children is one of the things we championed."  Shurtleff said he is also proud of his work on immigration reform and the creation of an AMBER Alert system in Utah.  Asked if he was leaving office with any regrets and he said he had a few.  One is the ongoing legal war over land in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  "It's such a mess down there right now and I wish I had time to clean it up," Shurtleff said.     Read more
Utah's new attorney general will tolerate polygamy
Charlie Butts
Legal-Courts - American Family News
Originally published January 3, 2013

Utah's incoming attorney general plans to mimic his predecessor in one respect.  John Swallow has announced his intentions on taking action concerning polygamy.  Swallow, who will be sworn into office on Monday, says he will not prosecute consenting adults involved in polygamy but will defend state law that declares the practice a felony.  The Salt Lake Tribune quotes the attorney general-elect, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as saying the state does not have the resources to prosecute all those in polygamous relationships or to deal with the ripple-effect consequences.  OneNewsNow turned to Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver for a comment on the attorney general's decision.  "This is outrageous that the [incoming] attorney general for the state of Utah would not prosecute a known crime that has deleterious and significant harmful effects not only to those that are in the polygamous relationships but certainly to the community," he says.  "Just because this is happening in Utah in significant numbers does not mean that the attorney general should not prosecute."  Staver notes that when Utah became part of the union, it was required to change its laws permitting polygamy because that was an important issue to government leaders at the time.  "They believed that polygamous relationships would destabilize the family and undermine the very foundation of liberty," he explains.     Read more
Foster children in polygamist enclave raising concerns
By Mary K. Reinhart
The Republic |
Originally published Fri Jan 11, 2013

Arizona is placing foster children in the polygamist enclave of Colorado City, raising concerns about their future and state Child Protective Services' judgment in finding homes for abused and neglected kids.  Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson identified one foster parent as Dan Wayman, a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints whose family was "reassigned" some years ago by church leader Warren Jeffs.  Johnson, a longtime opponent of the FLDS Church lifestyle, this week notified Gov. Jan Brewer and asked Attorney General Tom Horne for help to bring the child back to Lake Havasu City, where his mother still lives.  The boy and his two brothers had been living with a foster family in Lake Havasu City since CPS removed them from their mother's home, Johnson said, but CPS recently moved the youngest to Wayman's home and his brothers to a foster home in Prescott.  "His (Wayman's) wife and children were taken away from him by the priesthood," Johnson told The Arizona Republic.  "They got reassigned, so he's a single man now."  Johnson has prodded state and federal officials for years to dismantle the polygamist FLDS Church.  He said foster children should not be placed in Colorado City, where he believes child labor, arranged marriages and abuse run rampant.  "You're putting them in an environment where you're setting them up to fail," Johnson said.  "They're pretty much cut off from the real world."  Horne said he had referred the matter to Nicole Davis, chief counsel for the Child and Family Protection Division. He said he could not discuss details of the case.  "It has a very high priority," Horne said.  "We're taking it very seriously."     Read more
Ex-millionaire's plea deal unravels in attempt to protect family, new A.G.
No reason for John Swallow to be on no-indictment list, spokesman says
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Jan. 11 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — A court hearing at which erstwhile multimillionaire Jeremy Johnson intended to admit to federal fraud charges took a left turn Friday when he produced a list of people he wants protected from prosecution should he plead guilty.  The list included Johnson's wife, parents, friends, business associates — and newly sworn Utah Attorney General John Swallow, according to a copy Johnson provided to the Deseret News before the hearing.  Johnson, though, would not discuss why he included Swallow's name but said it involves money.  Johnson's attorney, Nathan Crane, had no comment about Swallow's name being on the list.  Swallow declined to speak with the Deseret News on Friday.  His spokesman, Paul Murphy, said Swallow did nothing wrong.  "This stuff has been bandied about since the political campaign," Murphy said.  Swallow, a Republican, has not asked to be on Johnson's list nor does he need to be on the list, he said.  "He's not protecting John. He's damaging John."  Johnson approached Swallow for help when the Federal Trade Commission was investigating his St. George-based Internet marketing firm, iWorks, Murphy said, adding that Swallow put Johnson in touch with someone who does lobbying for the FTC and nothing more.  Murphy said no money exchanged hands between Swallow and Johnson.  Former GOP Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has relationships with both Johnson and Swallow, who served as his chief deputy until succeeding him as attorney general on Monday.  Johnson contributed to Shurtleff's political campaigns and gave $50,000 to the attorney general's Internet Crimes Against Children task force.     Read more
Man accused of fraud tried to protect Utah A.G. in plea deal
By Associated Press and Richard Piatt
Originally broadcast January 11, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal plea agreement fell apart Friday for a well-known Utah philanthropist accused of running a $350 million scheme that billed hundreds of thousands of consumers for products they never ordered.  Johnson and prosecutors disagreed over the terms and a list of people that Johnson wanted to ensure would not be prosecuted.  Johnson instead decided to maintain his not guilty plea and the case is set to go to trial.  On Johnson's list of people he didn't want prosecuted were reportedly family members, friends, iWorks employees, and one source tells the Deseret News, attorney general John Swallow.  Johnson's attorney refused to elaborate, as did the U.S. attorney.  At this point, the connection between Johnson and attorney general Swallow is unclear.  Swallow's spokesman today said the attorney general did nothing illegal — that Johnson asked him for help with his case, and that Swallow referred him to an FTC lobbyist for advice.  Prosecutors allege that Jeremy Johnson's company, iWorks, sent software to consumers for a supposedly risk-free trial but billed them anyway.  The company mailed consumers CDs that contained information about government grants for personal, business and education expenses, prosecutors have said.  Johnson, 37, was arrested at a Phoenix airport in 2011, carrying more than $26,000 in cash and a one-way plane ticket to Costa Rica.     Read more
Johnson ties Swallow to fraud case
St. George man says Utah AG arranged deal with Sen. Reid
Written by Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published January 12, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah businessman accused of running a fraudulent $350 million software scheme says the state attorney general arranged a deal to pay Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a federal investigation into the software business disappear.  St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, who's accused of billing hundreds of thousands of consumers for products they never ordered, told The Salt Lake Tribune that newly elected Attorney General John Swallow set up a deal in 2010 for Johnson to pay $600,000 to people connected to Reid.  Johnson says be believed that Reid, a Nevada senator, might intervene in the Federal Trade Commission's investigation.  Swallow strongly denies the allegations and maintains he only offered to connect Johnson with a lobbying firm.  At the time, he was serving as Utah's chief deputy attorney general.  The FBI and Reid's office would not comment on the allegations.  Federal prosecutors initially charged Johnson, 37, with one count of mail fraud.  He was set to enter a guilty plea Friday to two additional charges of bank fraud and money laundering as part of an agreement with the government.  But that deal fell apart Friday after Johnson and prosecutors disagreed over the terms.  Johnson instead decided to maintain his not guilty plea and the case is set to go to trial.     Read more
Democrats call for probe into alleged backdoor deal involving John Swallow
New Utah A.G. said he did not broker 'bribe' to Harry Reid
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Saturday, Jan. 12 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — A week into his first term, Utah Attorney General John Swallow faces a political firestorm over accusations that he helped broker a deal in 2010 to derail a federal investigation into an embattled St. George businessman.  Utah Democrats have called for a special prosecutor from Washington, D.C., to conduct an independent probe of the allegations against Swallow.  Republicans were mum on Saturday.  Jeremy Johnson told the Salt Lake Tribune that Swallow, a Republican, would arrange through another person for him to pay Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid $600,000 to get the Federal Trade Commission to back away from an investigation into Johnson's Internet marketing company, iWorks.  Johnson supported his contention with emails, financial records and a transcript of a secretly recorded April 2012 conversation with Swallow, who served as Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's chief deputy before succeeding him last Monday.  Swallow issued a statement late Saturday calling Johnson's claims false and defamatory and a desperate attempt to secure a better deal in the federal criminal case against him.  "I did not broker a deal to pay a $600,000 'bribe' to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make the investigation go away," he said.  Swallow said Johnson presented himself in 2010 as an honest businessman who was not being treated fairly by the FTC.  He said he introduced him to a friend and former client who had experience working with federal lobbyists and might be able to help him work with regulators.  The new attorney general said he now regrets meeting with Johnson.  "I will learn from this mistake and do everything possible to make sure my actions are transparent and make sure our office will be vigilant in going after anyone who defrauds the public," Swallow said.     Read more
Utah AG accused of soliciting bribes in federal case
by Brittany Green-Miner and Max Roth
Fox 13 News
Originally broadcast January 12, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah's newly appointed Attorney General John Swallow is already facing allegations that he solicited money to influence high-level federal officials.  Multimillionaire and philanthropist Jeremy Johnson, who faces felony accusations of fraud under his Internet company I Works, says Swallow essentially solicited a bribe from Johnson to secure a better deal with federal prosecutors in his case.  But Swallow says those allegations are ludicrous.  "Jeremy Johnson is desperate to do and say anything possible to attempt to secure a better deal with federal prosecutors," Swallow said in a statement released Saturday night.  Two of Johnson's close associates say Johnson almost agreed to a plea deal in order to save a list of friends and family members – including Swallow – from prosecution.  That plea fell apart in court on Friday.  As part of his defense against the allegations, on Saturday, Swallow released an affidavit from businessman Richard Rawle, who said he received $250,000 meant to lobby the Federal Trade Commission in support of Johnson.  $100,000 of that money went to pay lobbyists, $50,000 went to Rawle as a fee for his service and $100,000 went to business investments, including P-Solutions, a company partially owned by Swallow.  Utah Democrats want to see a federal investigation into the allegations against Swallow.     Read more
Read the Declaration of Scott Leavitt regarding Utah AG John Swallow's involvement in the Jeremy Johnson fraud case - dated November 27, 2012
Read the Declaration of Richard Rawle regarding Utah AG John Swallow's involvement in the Jeremy Johnson fraud case - dated December 5, 2012
The Political Intrigue of Jeremy Johnson and John Swallow
by Jerre Wroble
News Blog
Salt Lake City Weekly
Originally published January 12, 2013

After months of rumors and rumblings, The Salt Lake Tribune finally got the scoop on Attorney General John Swallow's alleged involvement in attempting to help ward off a federal investigation of St. George business owner Jeremy Johnson.

Johnson and his inner circle became very wealthy operating an online get-rich-quick company called IWorks, a company CW has reported about in a number of stories. After the Federal Trade Commission came calling in December 2010, Johnson stood accused of getting consumers to enroll in grant-writing or business-coaching programs for a nominal fee, then charging their credit cards hundreds of dollars in unauthorized monthly premiums. The fraud scheme is alleged to have raked in hundreds of millions of dollars. Just to reconstruct the routing of funds through dozens of shell companies required a 79-page explanation.

If you like to see the pretty colors when your head explodes, you can read the report here.     Read more
Democrats seek probe into claims about Utah Attorney General
Written by Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published January 14, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Democrats are pressing for an independent investigation into allegations that newly elected Utah Attorney General John Swallow helped arrange a deal to quash a federal probe into a businessman.  State Democratic Chair Jim Dabakis said Utah's "overwhelming one-party rule" by Republicans makes it difficult for the public to have confidence in a local investigation.  He asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the allegations.  "These are very serious charges that have been made about the highest levels of Utah's elected leaders," Dabakis said in a statement.  "The people of Utah deserve to know if their elected officials are crooks or unethical."  Indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson, accused of running a fraudulent $350 million software scheme, claimed Swallow arranged a deal to pay U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to quash a federal investigation into the software business.  Johnson, who's accused of billing hundreds of thousands of consumers for products they never ordered, told The Salt Lake Tribune that Swallow set up a deal in 2010 for Johnson to pay $600,000 to people connected to Reid.  Johnson says he believed the Nevada senator might intervene in the Federal Trade Commission's investigation.  Swallow, a Republican, denied the allegations.  He said he only offered to connect Johnson with a lobbying firm.  At the time, he was serving as Utah's chief deputy attorney general.     Read more
Utah AG Swallow asks U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate Johnson's claims
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published January 14, 2013

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office said Monday he was never involved in a deal to have a Utah businessman pay the senator to make a federal investigation disappear.  St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, who's accused of running a $350 million software scheme, said a top official in the Utah attorney general's office orchestrated an agreement in 2010 to pay $600,000 to someone connected to Reid.  Johnson told The Salt Lake Tribune over the weekend that he believed Reid would intervene in the Federal Trade Commission's investigation into his business.  A spokeswoman for Reid's office, Kristen Orthman, said Monday that the Nevada Democrat "had no knowledge or involvement" in Johnson's case and said the allegations "are nothing more than innuendo and simply not true."  Federal prosecutors allege that Johnson's company sent software to consumers for a supposedly risk-free trial but billed them anyway.  Johnson was arrested at a Phoenix airport in 2011, carrying more than $26,000 in cash and a one-way plane ticket to Costa Rica.  Prosecutors initially charged him with one count of mail fraud. He was set to enter a guilty plea Friday to two additional charges of bank fraud and money laundering as part of an agreement with the government.  But that deal fell apart after Johnson and prosecutors disagreed over the terms. Johnson instead decided to maintain his not guilty plea and the case is set to go to trial.  On Saturday, the Tribune reported that Johnson provided the newspaper with emails, financial statements, photos and a transcript of a recorded meeting with John Swallow, then the state's chief deputy attorney general.     Read more
Read Utah AG John Swallow's Letter denying any involvement in the Jeremy Johnson fraud case - dated January 14, 2013
New Attorney General John Swallow calls for investigation of claims against him
Others also calling for probe of allegations made by ex-multimillionaire
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Monday, Jan. 14 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General John Swallow called for an investigation Monday into allegations that he brokered a deal to stifle a federal probe into a St. George businessman.  Swallow, a Republican, asked the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah to look into Jeremy Johnson's claim that Swallow helped arrange a $600,000 deal to enlist Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to quash a Federal Trade Commission investigation of his Internet marketing company in 2010.  "I deny I have ever participated in a scheme to bribe a member of Congress," Swallow wrote to U.S. Attorney for Utah David Barlow.  "I expect no special treatment. I do not hold myself or anyone else above the law."  Barlow replied to Swallow later Monday, assuring him in a letter that the U.S. Attorney's Office and Department of Justice place a high priority on alleged federal crimes.  All such matters, he wrote, are handled by the FBI and federal prosecutors.  "We will carefully review any information you or others provide and take any necessary and appropriate action," Barlow wrote.  In his first albeit brief interview since the story broke late Friday night, Swallow said Monday, "I categorically deny these allegations are true, and it's personal. I can't believe someone could make up a lie like that about someone who's just coming into office."  Swallow said maybe Johnson is upset because he wasn't willing to broker a meeting for him with the U.S. Attorney's Office several months ago.     Read more
A.G. Swallow calls for investigation
Reported by: Marcos Ortiz
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast January 14, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Utah’s newly elected Attorney General wants an investigation of alleged wrongdoing of himself.  The allegations against John Swallow were made Friday by St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson.  Johnson is facing federal charges for bank fraud and money laundering.  Friday, an expected plea bargain fell through and Johnson made public his accusations of Swallow.  Johnson alleges Swallow helped broker a deal in 2010 to help Johnson get out from a federal investigation.  Democrats want the U.S. Attorney to investigate.  "We don't know what happened but these are very, very serious allegations," says Democratic party Chairman Jim Debakis.  "And there's a lot of documentation."  Specifically, Johnson claimed he paid Swallow nearly a quarter of a million dollars to persuade U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to stop the federal investigation.  It's an allegation Reid's office denies.  Weber County Attorney Dee Smith lost the attorney general race to Swallow.  Smith says he knew about the allegations but didn't want to make it a campaign issue.  But Smith claims Swallow is already being investigated by the FBI.  "I've had individuals tell me that they've been interviewed as part of an ongoing investigation," says Smith.  And yet another ethics group wants Swallow investigated by the Utah Bar Association.     Read more
Utah AG calls for investigation into bribery solicitation allegations
by Brittany Green-Miner, Max Roth and Nineveh Dinha
Fox 13 News
Originally broadcast January 14, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General John Swallow is asking federal attorneys to investigate allegations that he solicited bribes in a federal fraud case.  Swallow was implicated in the case against Jeremy Johnson, who is facing federal fraud charges with his company I Works.  Johnson claims Swallow helped arrange a deal where Johnson would pay up to $600,000 to make his case disappear.  That money, according to Johnson, was intended for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Swallow denies any wrongdoing, but is still asking for an investigation to clear his name.  He sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah on Monday calling for them to investigate the allegations.  The letter read:

"Mr. Barlow,

Last Monday I took an oath to support, obey and defend our state and federal constitutions; an oath I have previously taken and honored. I am deeply disappointed by the recent false allegations levied at me. I call on the U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah to investigate those allegations.

In response to the recent allegations of Mr. Jeremy Johnson, I deny I have ever participated in a scheme to bribe a member of Congress. I expect no special treatment. I do not hold myself or anyone else above the law. The rule of law is what sets our republic apart from other forms of government.

I urge your office to look into these allegations and I pledge my full support and cooperation.

Most Sincerely,
John E. Swallow
Utah Attorney General"
    Read more
Swallow should resign
The Spectrum
Originally published January 14, 2013

A story published last weekend by our brethren at the Salt Lake Tribune requires one of two things to occur:
  • The immediate resignation of Utah's newly sworn in attorney general John Swallow.

  • The appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate and, if verified, bring charges against Swallow and already-embattled St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson — and the subsequent resignation of Swallow.
Regardless of what comes of such a probe, details in the Tribune story provide enough evidence that Swallow cannot be trusted as the top law-enforcement official in the state.  The Tribune's story tells of a web of bribery and cover ups.  Johnson — who turned down a plea agreement on a mail fraud charge in connection with a case in which he is accused of illegally charging credit cards of customers of Internet businesses — told the Tribune that Swallow offered to help in, in effect, bribe Nevada Sen. Harry Reid in an attempt to have the federal government drop its case.  Swallow and Reid have both vehemently denied the charges made by Johnson, but the man who became well known in Southern Utah for flying search-and-rescue missions and flying supplies to earthquake-ravaged Haiti reportedly has copies of emails and recordings that paint a different picture.  According to the Tribune, the most damning evidence was a collection of photographs and recordings of Johnson with Swallow on April 30, 2012, at a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop in Orem.  In that conversation, Johnson references a Sept. 29, 2010, email in which Swallow mentions Reid and money — a curious combination of words for a man working in the Utah attorney general's office as a top deputy at the time.  Swallow is reportedly heard saying, "I'd like to have it legally through lobbyists."     Read more
Placement Of Foster Children In Polygamous Towns Investigated
By Ladd Egan
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Monday, January 14 2013

(KUTV) The Arizona Attorney General's office is investigating complaints about foster children being placed in the polygamous town of Colorado City.  Colorado City, Arizona and its twin city Hildale, Utah straddle the Utah/Arizona border and are home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  "It's a totally different culture," said Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson of the cities.  "Even the dress is different. You're told how to dress, what to do."  Johnson became concerned after learning of two separate foster homes in Colorado City including a former FLDS man who is licensed to care for up to five foster children.  Johnson said the ex-FLDS man lives alone because his family remained part of the faith and was assigned to live with other church members.  Three children from the same family were recently placed in the home of the ex-FLDS man, according to Johnson.  The siblings were sent to Colorado City from their home located approximately 300 miles away is Lake Havasu City.  Johnson has asked Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Attorney General Tom Horne to intervene and remove foster children from Colorado City.  "I'm really asking them to take a better look at the placement of children in Colorado City just due to the vast history of Colorado City," Johnson said of Arizona's Child Protective Services.  "They have to do a better job of documenting who they are giving the children to."     Read more
UEG: Swallow may not have broken the law or acted unethically
by Nineveh Dinha
Fox 13 News
Originally broadcast January 15, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — John Swallow, Utah's newly elected Attorney General, said allegations that he was involved in a bribery scandal are false.  "I am the victim of this attack, that is unsubstantiated, that is going to be investigated and as the facts come out people will learn that this is not true," said John Swallow who declared his innocence in front of television news cameras Monday night.  Swallow said all he did was introduce Jeremy Johnson and Richard Rawle.  David Irvine, an Attorney for Utahns for Ethical Government and a former Republican State Lawmaker said there are still a lot of unanswered questions.  "It raises a question, what was going on and what was the nature of that relationship and what was expected by Mr. Swallow of Mr. Johnson," Irvine said.  When it comes to the $20,000 Swallow claims he received from Rawle for consulting work in Nevada, Irvine said a decades-old state statute may protect Swallow if what the AG says is true.  "There is a statute in Utah applicable to the assistant attorney general. It specifies that assistant attorneys general who are career service employees – that's sort of a civil service – are prohibited from doing outside legal work for compensation," Irvine said.  John Swallow, who was serving as a Chief Deputy Attorney at the time, was what you call a political appointment.     Read more
Quick end to John Swallow investigation not likely
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, Jan. 16 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Embattled Utah Attorney General John Swallow said Wednesday he hopes a two- or three-week investigation into allegations that he helped arrange a deal to bribe a member of Congress will clear his name.  But the U.S. Attorney's Office investigation that Swallow has asked for — if it's conducted at all — wouldn't be done quickly and might not shed light on what happened.  "They're not a Ken Starr-type independent investigator that tries to ascertain the validity of allegations or not and then issue a report," said Brett Tolman, a former U.S. Attorney for Utah.  The office could refer the matter to an investigative agency such as the FBI, which would take months — not weeks — collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses, he said.  "At the federal level, there are more resources, it would be more thorough, and they would attempt to take a no-stone-unturned approach, especially when it involved a political figure," Tolman said.  Swallow asked the U.S. Attorney's Office on Monday to look into St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson's assertion that Swallow helped broker a $600,000 deal to enlist Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to thwart a Federal Trade Commission probe of Johnson's Internet marketing company.  Reid's office said the senator had no knowledge or involvement in Johnson's case.  "They're moving forward, from what I can tell," Swallow told Doug Wright on KSL Newsradio.  "I hope that when we wake up in February, we'll have a lot more information than we have today, and I understand that there's a whole lot of information that's out there."  Tolman also had this to say about Swallow seeking a federal investigation: Be careful what you ask for because you might get it. And that might be the last thing you want.     Read more
John Swallow accusations prompt call for ethics, campaign finance reform
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, Jan. 16 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General John Swallow's business relationships have prompted a state senator to propose legislation that would prohibit appointed and elected officials from doing work on the side that might conflict with their jobs.  "My bill and hopefully my law will make it very, very clear that if you're on the state payroll, you may not do business in a way that would have any relationship whatsoever with your official duties," said Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City.  Dabakis said he doesn't know if recent allegations that Swallow helped broker a deal to get an embattled St. George businessman out from under a federal investigation are true.  But, he said, it appears undisputed that Swallow was paid as a consultant in at least one instance while serving as chief deputy attorney general.  Swallow, a Republican, won the top job in the November election.  Dabakis, the Utah Democratic Party chairman, isn't alone in wanting to see the Utah Legislature tackle government ethics reform on the heels of the allegations against Swallow.  Former Utah Republican Party leader Enid Greene Mickelsen said it shows Utah has lax ethics laws and needs a cap on campaign contributions.  "We here in Utah always convinced ourselves that we don't need it because we're better than that, and we keep having these types of questions come up," she said.  "Right now, the laws are just too porous, and we need to make some changes."     Read more
Allegations against AG prompt Utah GOP to look at impeachment
by Max Roth
Fox 13 News
Originally broadcast January 16, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General John Swallow can't look to his fellow Republicans in the State Senate if he's seeking comfort as he faces allegations of financial improprieties.  Republican state senators took time in their pre-legislative session caucus meeting on Tuesday to learn how the state constitution envisions an impeachment.  "We take the situation surrounding our attorney general very seriously," said Senator John Valentine of Orem.  As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Valentine would be likely to play a prominent role if the Senate were to conduct an impeachment trial.  But Valentine says he and his fellow senators don't expect an impeachment to happen.  He says they want federal investigators to work through questions surrounding Swallow's dealings with Jeremy Johnson, an internet entrepreneur from St. George charged with bilking customers out of millions of dollars, and Richard Rawle, the recently deceased founder of Check City.  Valentine says an investigation is more likely to either exonerate Swallow, or to find enough evidence that Swallow would choose to resign.  James Humprheys, political consultant and president of Utah's Log Cabin Republicans, says Swallow has as much job security as an elected official can have.  "There's no recall provision in the state constitution. The governor can ask for his resignation, but as an elected official he can't be fired," Humphreys said.     Read more
Swallow has no plans to resign even as rumors circulate about his replacement
By Lisa Riley Roche
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Jan. 18 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Embattled Utah Attorney General John Swallow has no intention of resigning his office, his spokesman said Friday, even as rumors swirled about who might take his place.  "The attorney general has no plans to resign," said Paul Murphy, Swallow's spokesman.  "It's incredibly shortsighted and ridiculous for people to make a rush to judgment."  Murphy also said "anyone who is looking at becoming a replacement for the attorney general ought to take a deep breath and stop and let due process take place."  Several Utah newspapers have called for the recently inaugurated attorney general's resignation after allegations surfaced a week ago that he helped broker a deal to bribe a congressional leader.  Publicly, the state's political leaders have said they want to wait for the results of an investigation sought by Swallow, before taking any position on whether he should remain in office.  Still, members of the Utah Senate GOP caucus acknowledged this week discussing the need to understand the procedures for impeachment.  And House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said Swallow could end up being forced out of office.  "That's definitely a possibility," Lockhart said, calling the controversy a distraction as lawmakers prepare for the start of the 2013 Legislature on Jan. 28.  "You have to consider all of it. I am not John Swallow, thankfully, but he's going to make decisions on his own obviously."     Read more
The Vent
The Spectrum
Originally published January 19, 2013

The unmitigated gall of the Utah Democrat chair calling for the possibility of U.S. Attorney General Holder to investigate the Utah attorney general for corruption is despicable.  There is so much hypocrisy involved here it is impossible to calculate.  I don't know if the Utah attorney general is guilty, but I do know that Holder is presiding over the most corrupt attorney general regime in the history of this country, all under an unquestionably corrupt Obama administration.  Please see Operation Fast and Furious for details.
Polygamous community resident says he's a fit foster parent
By Dave Hawkins
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Originally published January 21, 2013

KINGMAN, Ariz. - A resident of the polygamous community of Colorado City says he is offended by criticism he is unfit to be a foster father.  Dan Wayman, who is taking care of three boys as a foster parent, responded to Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson, who said no children should be placed in the northern Arizona border community.  Johnson said women and children there are systematically abused by the polygamous culture promoted by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He issued statements Jan. 10 blasting Arizona Child Protective Services for placing foster children in the isolated enclave about 160 miles northeast of Las Vegas.  Johnson is taking up the cause of an 11-year-old boy from Lake Havasu City who is under the care of Wayman, an Arizona licensed foster father who is also caring for a 9-year-old boy from Kingman and a 15-year-old boy from Bullhead City.  Johnson said he has also contacted Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Attorney General Tom Horne, telling them that the state is placing children in a culture he deems unfit and backward.  Johnson said foster kids are doomed to fail in a community where they can't go to the mall or movie theater.  "B.S." Wayman said.  "I take my kids to the movies all the time ... We just went last week and some of the boys went and saw 'The Hobbit.' It's 15 minutes away in Hurricane (nearby Utah)."  Wayman said his foster kids play laser tag, enjoy sports and spend time on computers, activities traditionally frowned upon by the polygamous church.     Read more
Read the Memorandum to Utah State Senators from the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel regarding the impeachment process - dated January 21, 2013
AG John Swallow made mistakes in dealings with businessman, Utah GOP says
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, Jan. 23 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Republican Party says Attorney General John Swallow made mistakes in his dealings with indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson and called on the state Legislature to "get serious" about ethics reform.  "We need to find out the facts. We won't know the findings from the investigation immediately, but it's clear that while some actions might not have been against the law, some, at a minimum, were mistakes for a state employee and a candidate for attorney general," said state GOP Chairman Thomas Wright.  Wright had been silent about the accusations that surfaced against Swallow, a Republican, nearly two weeks ago.  He commended Swallow for asking the U.S. Attorney's Office to look into the allegations against him, saying it was the right thing to do.  "I hope other elected officials will learn from John's experience and make changes to avoid this kind of situation in the future," Wright said.  Specifically, he said "common sense" ethics reform should be applied to the state executive offices of governor, attorney general, treasurer and auditor.  Also, a Democratic-leaning advocacy group asked the Utah State Bar on Wednesday to investigate whether Swallow violated professional conduct rules in his dealings with Johnson.  Meantime, federal regulators turned up the heat on Johnson by seeking to charge his wife and parents for allegedly receiving millions of dollars in "ill-gotten gains," including a mansion and silver bars, from his Internet marketing company.     Read more
Utah GOP chairman: Swallow made 'mistakes' dealing with Jeremy Johnson
Written by Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published January 23, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — The chairman of Utah's Republican Party says new Attorney General John Swallow made mistakes in his dealings with a federally-indicted St. George businessman.  Chairman Thomas Wright sent out a statement Wednesday saying that some of Swallow's actions were, at minimum, "mistakes" for a state employee and candidate for attorney general.  He also calls for ethics reforms in Utah.  St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson says Swallow set up a deal in 2010 for him to pay $600,000 to people connected to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a federal investigation into his software business disappear.  Swallow, a Republican, denies the allegations.  He says he only offered to connect Johnson with a lobbying firm.  He was the chief deputy attorney general at the time.  Reid's office denies any involvement.     See photo
Utah gov. says state needs ethics reforms
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published January 24, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday the state clearly needs to institute some kind of ethics reforms, but he added that people ought to wait for the results of a federal investigation into allegations facing Utah's new attorney general.  A St. George businessman, Jeremy Johnson, facing fraud charges has accused Attorney General John Swallow of brokering a deal to pay people connected to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to quash a federal investigation.  Hebert said at a news conference that he was asked about the allegations surrounding Swallow and a recent call by the Utah Republican Party for ethics reforms.  "The situation with the attorney general certainly raises concerns on many different levels," Herbert said, adding that he's concerned people have been too quick to judge Swallow before all the facts are in.  Johnson alleges Swallow set up a deal in 2010 for him to pay $600,000 to people connected to Reid to make a federal probe into his software business disappear.  Swallow, who at the time was the chief deputy attorney general, denies the allegations.  He says he only offered to connect Johnson with a lobbying firm.  Reid's office denies any involvement.  Utah Democrats have asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the allegations.     Read more
Gov. Gary Herbert wants new ethics panel, but says AG John Swallow doesn't need state investigation
By Lisa Riley Roche
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, Jan. 24 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert called on lawmakers Thursday to establish a new panel to review ethics complaints against Utah's elected executives, but he said he was not calling for an ethics investigation into embattled Attorney General John Swallow's activities.  "I'd like to see what the facts are before we make any rush to judgment or jump to conclusions," Herbert said during his monthly news conference on KUED Ch. 7.  "That being said, I do believe there is need for some reform."  The governor stopped short of agreeing with Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright, who said Wednesday that "at a minimum," Swallow made mistakes that could be avoided through a series of common sense reforms aimed at state executives.  "It appears we're kind of piling on the attorney general right now because of his unique circumstances and his challenges right now," Herbert said, calling criticisms of Swallow from the sidelines "a little disingenuous."  The governor said he believes Swallow regrets having meetings that led to accusations he helped broker a deal to bribe a congressional leader.  The attorney general, Herbert said, "probably thinks that's a mistake."  But the governor did agree with the state Republican Party chairman that an ethics commission should be created to look into potential complaints against the governor, attorney general, treasurer and auditor.     Read more
Dan Liljenquist: Swallow's behavior raises concerns about ethics
By Dan Liljenquist
For the Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, Jan. 24 2013

Like many people in this state, I have closely followed the media coverage of the allegations surrounding newly elected Utah Attorney General John Swallow.  I have been deeply disturbed by what has been uncovered.  Here is what we know so far.  John Swallow was selected by Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to serve as chief deputy attorney general in 2009. Swallow and Shurtleff raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from companies with dubious consumer protection records and multiple Utah Department of Commerce complaints.  One such donor was Jeremy Johnson from St. George-based iWorks.  In 2010, Johnson contacted Swallow and asked him for help fending off a yet-to-be-filed Federal Trade Commission lawsuit against iWorks.  Swallow agreed to help Johnson find a lobbyist to try to resolve the situation and suggested a $600,000 lobbying retainer.  Swallow then coached Johnson via email on how to characterize his business in preparation for potential meetings with U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.  Johnson paid $250,000 to Richard Rawle, a close associate of Swallow, to lobby on iWorks' behalf.  Rawle then used a portion of those funds to pay Swallow, through Swallow's firm P-Solutions.  According to Swallow, the payment he received from Rawle was for an unrelated political consulting contract in Nevada.     Read more
FBI investigating Jeremy Johnson's allegations against Utah AG
Written by Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published January 25, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah is confirming the agency and the FBI are investigating allegations made against the state's new attorney general.  Jeremy Johnson, a St. George businessman who is facing fraud charges, has accused Attorney General John Swallow of brokering a deal to pay people connected to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to quash a federal investigation.  Swallow has asked the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate the allegations made against him, saying it will clear his name.  The U.S. Attorney's Office does not usually reveal what they are investigating, but spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch says in a statement Friday that they are confirming the probe because of "the extraordinary public interest" in the case.  Rydalch says they will adhere to the facts and law and will not comment any further on the matter.     See mug shot
Feds acknowledge Attorney General John Swallow under investigation
By Lisa Riley Roche
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Jan. 25 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah issued a statement Friday confirming Attorney General John Swallow is being investigated in coordination with the Department of Justice and the FBI.  Neither the DOJ nor the U.S. Attorney's Office typically confirms investigations, but an exception was made "because of the extraordinary public interest in this matter, we want to reassure the public that we, along with the FBI, have been investigating the allegations and will follow the facts and the law in doing so," according to the statement.  The statement said none of the federal agencies involved will have further comment.  Swallow had asked the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate allegations he helped broker a deal to bribe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to stop a federal investigation into a St. George businessman, allegations he strongly denied.  The businessman, Jeremy Johnson, faces fraud charges in federal court related to his Internet marketing company.  Swallow is alleged to have put Johnson in touch with his former employer Richard Rawle, the owner of a payday lending company.  Swallow earned more than $23,000 in consulting fees from Rawle while he served as chief deputy attorney general but said he was not part of any scheme or wrongdoing.  His spokesman, Paul Murphy, has said Swallow has no plans to resign.  Murphy Friday called the announcement of the investigation "good," noting because of Swallow's position, "it is an extraordinary situation."  "The attorney general wants the facts to be known as much as anyone else," Murphy said.     Read more
Secret recording stirs troubled waters for Attorney General Swallow
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, Jan. 29 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Future Utah Attorney General John Swallow and indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson talk about whether thousands of dollars that changed hands were to a pay off a powerful member of Congress or to hire lobbyists in secret recording that became public this week.  Johnson insists the money was meant to buy Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's influence to end a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Johnson's Internet marketing company.  Swallow says he understood it would be used by his friend, Richard Rawle, to hire federal lobbyists on Johnson's behalf.  But before the hourlong conversation ends, Swallow, who repeatedly says he did nothing criminal, sounds like he thinks he could be the subject of a federal investigation that could end his career as a lawyer.  "At the end of the day, I don't want to be a felon when I'm not a felon," Swallow says on the recording given to The Salt Lake Tribune and posted on its website.  "I don't think they care about you," Johnson says.  "They want Reid."  Reid has disavowed any knowledge or involvement of Johnson's case.  "The allegations of bribery by Mr. Johnson, a man with a background of fraud, deception and corruption, are absurd and utterly false. Bribery is a crime for which Sen. Reid has personally put people behind bars. Sen. Reid will not have his integrity questioned by a man of Mr. Johnson's low record and character, and his outrageous allegations will not go unanswered. Clearly, a desperate man is making things up," according to Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman.  Swallow, too, has denied any wrongdoing.     Read more
Federal prosecutors seek to muzzle indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, Jan. 29 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to muzzle indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson.  "(Johnson) is engaged in an ongoing media campaign against the United States Attorney's Office and, in particular, against lead prosecutor Brent Ward, all apparently in an effort to litigate his case publicly rather than in the courtroom," according to a motion filed in U.S. District Court.  A hearing is scheduled for Friday morning.  The threat of a gag order didn't faze Johnson.  "I find it ironic that they are so worried about what people will think of them because of something I might say," he said in an email Tuesday.  "The media has been an important tool for these government actors to keep public opinion on their side throughout this. Now it seems these people do not like their own medicine. In an act of desperation, they want to deprive me now of my (First Amendment) right to free speech."  Prosecutors say Johnson has used various media outlets to accuse the government of various misdeeds.  It cites his website, a Facebook page titled "Unofficial Fan Page United States Attorney for the District of Utah," and statements Johnson has made in newspapers.  "While (Johnson) has the right to his day in court, he is not entitled to litigate his case in the media (print, broadcast or social) by means of false accusation and innuendo," prosecutors argue.     Read more
Read the US Attorney's Motion for an Order Pursuant to DUCrimR 57-6 requesting a gag order against Jeremy Johnson, filed in the Third District Court in Salt Lake City January 18, 2013
Many Utah voters say Utah A.G. John Swallow should resign, poll shows
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, Jan. 30 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly half of Utah voters who believe that recent allegations against Attorney General John Swallow indicate he did something illegal or unethical say he should resign, according to a poll released Wednesday.  The Brigham Young University Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy questioned 500 registered voters Jan. 22-25, and about two-thirds of respondents had heard of the scandal involving Swallow.  Key Research Solutions, a Provo polling firm, conducted the survey.  Of those who were aware of the scandal, 17 percent said Swallow did something illegal and 41 percent say he did something unethical but not illegal, the polls shows.  Only 14 percent of that group believes he didn't do anything unethical and 28 percent were unsure about the ethics or legality.  Among those who say the Republican attorney general acted illegally or unethically, 49 percent felt he should resign. Another 34 percent said he should remain in office, while 18 percent were unsure.  Very few Republicans or Democrats are willing to say that Swallow did nothing unethical, according to the poll.  While some voters haven't quite made up their minds yet, most voters regardless of party don't like what they're hearing so far, according to the democracy center.     Read more
Jeremy Johnson: John Swallow shook me down
by Max Roth
Fox13 News
Originally broadcast January 30, 2013

ST. GEORGE, Utah – Jeremy Johnson, the former CEO and founder of I Works who is currently under federal indictment, says Utah's new Attorney General was an active participant in efforts to get money from Johnson allegedly intended to pay-off a high-ranking federal official.  In his first broadcast interview since he went public with allegations against Swallow, Johnson said he felt the Federal Trade Commission was not willing to give his company a fair hearing and he sought advice from his friend, then-Chief Deputy Attorney General Swallow.  He tells Fox 13 Swallow told him his friend – now-deceased Check City founder Richard Rawle – had "invested millions in a contact" close to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Johnson says Swallow spoke with him several times about the price for such assistance, starting at more than one million dollars and negotiating down to $600,000.  Even at that, Johnson says he could only scrape up $250,000, which he gave to Richard Rawle.  Over the course of the conversations, Johnson says he told Swallow paying Rawle would take all the money he had for a defense attorney, "and his exact words were 'trust me Jeremy, this is better than an attorney. You won't need an attorney.'"  When the FTC sued I Works, beginning a fast process of shutting down the St. George-based company, Johnson says he went to Swallow and, again, the two talked money.  "I'm like, 'John, I don't understand,' you know and then the talk started to turn to like, 'You know Jeremy, you knew the deal, it was six hundred and you didn't pay the whole amount.'"     Read more
Lawyers for Johnson seek removal
Attorneys say relationship 'irreparably damaged'
Written by Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published January 31, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Defense attorneys representing a Utah businessman who has accused the state's new Attorney General of orchestrating a bribery scheme have asked to be removed from the man's case.  A federal magistrate has set a hearing for today on whether to allow four lawyers for Jeremy Johnson to quit the case.  The magistrate also will set arguments on a government request to muzzle Johnson, who has been making accusations about his case in the media.  The lawyers say their relationship with Johnson has been "irreparably damaged."  Johnson faces charges of Internet fraud and claims newly elected Attorney General Johns Swallow orchestrated a bribery scheme that failed to derail a federal investigation his business practices.  Johnson's lead attorney, Nathan Crane, didn't return a call Thursday from The Associated Press.  In a court motion, Crane and other members of his law firm didn't explain why their relationship with Johnson has deteriorated.  They are expected to elaborate in court today.  Earlier this week, the U.S. Attorney's Office asked a federal judge to put a gag order on Johnson.  U.S. Attorney David Barlow says that Johnson is engaged in an ongoing media campaign against his office, in particular lead prosecutor Brent Ward.     Read more
Feds call for gag order against Jeremy Johnson
by Max Roth
Fox13 News
Originally broadcast January 31, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY - Federal prosecutors want Jeremy Johnson to stop talking, and writing and communicating any of his unflattering opinions about their integrity.  Johnson is the founder of St. George-based Internet company I Works that was once valued at more than $100 million before the Federal Trade Commission seized most of the company, saying Johnson was defrauding millions of customers.  Johnson says the federal government was never willing to listen to him and he decided to take his case online with websites like the Jeremy Johnson Blog, a mock Facebook fan page for the U.S. Attorney for Utah and  "Well they've been kind of evil to us," Johnson says.  Johnson also has said the U.S. Attorney's Office has threatened his family, citing a PowerPoint presentation created by prosecutors where members of Johnson's family were listed as possible perpetrators of bank fraud and money laundering.  Johnson appears in federal court on Friday to hear federal prosecutors make their case that he should be ordered to stop talking about his case in public.  Their order says his statements have been inflammatory with the intent to spoil the pool of potential jurors.
Bribery or lobbying? Jeremy Johnson says there's no difference
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Feb. 1 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson says the word "bribe" never came up when he talked with Utah Attorney General John Swallow about how to keep federal regulators from shutting down his Internet marketing enterprise.  "You've (the media) characterized it as a bribe. I characterize it as if you want something, you gotta pay for it. I know now that's what it looks like. Truthfully, you'd have to define the difference. What's the difference between bribe and lobbying?" Johnson said.  Johnson accused Swallow of helping to set up a $600,000 payment intended to enlist Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in an effort to derail a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Johnson's company, iWorks.  "It's nothing like what's being portrayed where John called me and we devised a scheme to bribe a senator. It was nothing like that," the 37-year-old St. George man said Friday.  "Maybe it's semantics. But lobbying, well-placed money, influence peddling — it's all the same. You're putting money somewhere to get something."  Johnson made the comments in an interview Friday morning, hours before a federal judge essentially muzzled him pending the court's decision on the prosecution's request for a gag order.  "I'm really not supposed to say anything," he said after the court hearing.     Read more
Johnson promises to stop talking
Judge appoints new defense attorney for accused fraudster
The Spectrum
Originally published February 1, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson said Friday he was finished talking after a magistrate warned him against making any more public accusations about his internet fraud case.  Johnson scuttled a plea deal last month, then accused newly elected Attorney General John Swallow of being part of a high-level bribery scheme that Johnson says failed to derail a federal investigation into his business practices.  Swallow denies the accusation.  Johnson has also accused federal prosecutors of misconduct, incompetence and threatening to put members of his family in jail.  Citing Johnson's statements on social media and in television interviews, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen asked U.S. District Court Judge Paul Warner to muzzle the defendant.  Warner refused to impose an immediate gag order but made clear to Johnson that his statements could land him in jail pending trial.  "I'm not a judge to be trifled with," said Warner, a former U.S. Attorney for Utah.  "Please don't test me."  Johnson's defense lawyers quit his case Friday and were replaced by a criminal defense attorney appointed by the magistrate.  Prosecutors said they plan to bring a new indictment against Johnson that Warner said was almost certain to add to the charges against him.  Johnson's allegations threatened Swallow's political career only a week after Swallow took office.  He alleged that Swallow arranged a scheme to quash a federal investigation by bribing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of the most powerful politicians in the country.  Reid denies having anything to do with Johnson.     Read more
New lawyer for Johnson, but no gag order yet
by Brittany Green-Miner and Max Roth
Fox13 News
Originally broadcast February 1, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah businessman Jeremy Johnson was in federal court on Friday after prosecutors called for a gag order against him in a federal fraud case.  Johnson is accused of using his Internet company I Works to defraud customers of millions of dollars.  As part of the case, Johnson implicated Utah Attorney General John Swallow for allegedly helping Johnson try to bribe top federal officials to make Johnson's fraud case disappear.  Johnson also claims that he and his family were threatened by federal prosecutors.  Swallow denies those claims, saying he just introduced Johnson to another man who offered to hire lobbyists to try and get the case dropped.  After Johnson granted several one-on-one interviews earlier this week, one with FOX 13, prosecutors called for a gag order that would prohibit him from talking publicly about the case, and a hearing was scheduled for Friday.  At the beginning of Friday's hearing, Johnson's attorney Nathan Crane stepped down, citing issues – including Johnson's granting interviews with local media – between him and Johnson that would impede the defense.  Ron Yengich was court-appointed as Johnson's new attorney.  U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen argued that Johnson was increasing his "aggressive campaigning" in the case, particularly with the recent interviews, and asked the judge to order Johnson to keep quiet about the case.  But the judge said a gag order would present serious constitutional questions and he won't decide on it right away.  He did advise Johnson and his attorney to halt their media campaign, saying, "Simply because you can doesn't mean you should."  Yengich agreed, and told the judge he and Johnson won't say anything else publicly about the trial.
Utah AG in controversy after weeks in office
Johnson's allegations a problem for Swallow
Written by Michelle L. Price
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published February 2, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's new attorney general was in office for only six days by the time people started calling for his resignation.  Republican John Swallow sailed into the position last November with almost 65 percent of the vote and vastly more campaign cash than his Democratic opponent.  The 50-year-old Swallow spent the past three years as a top official in the attorney general's office.  He was sworn into the top law enforcement position in the state on Jan. 7.  But his high ride into office crumbled a week later, when a Utah businessman facing federal charges accused Swallow of orchestrating a plan to quash a federal investigation by bribing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of the most powerful politicians in the country.  The St. George businessman, Jeremy Johnson, was once revered in Utah for using millions he made with his Internet companies to run mercy missions to Haiti, flying supplies in and orphans out after a devastating earthquake.  He's now facing federal fraud charges and the possibility of decades in prison, and he's directing the spotlight on Swallow, producing emails and a secret recording of a meeting last April between the two at a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop 40 miles south of Salt Lake City.  Swallow has strongly denied the allegations and maintains he only tried to connect Johnson with lobbyists who would persuade the Federal Trade Commission that his business was not scamming consumers out of millions through fraudulent credit card charges, as the FTC has alleged.     Read more
Jeremy Johnson: Social Media Backfire
by Jerre Wroble
News Blog
Salt Lake City Weekly
Originally published February 5, 2013

Covering Utah's political scene, we're frequently told "no comment," hung up on, given the party line and questioned about our motives.  Seldom do we catch a glimpse at how backs are scratched and power is brokered.  That's why, when indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson brought forth his damning bribery allegations recently, it was like standing under a waterfall, getting hit with a gush of "oh, so this is how the game is played."  In the process, Johnson roped in Utah Attorney General John Swallow and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, alleging their involvement in a deal to ward off a federal investigation of his Internet business that may have defrauded consumers out of hundreds of millions of dollars.  While Johnson's allegations have turned a million-watt light on the Utah Attorney General's Office, he also hoped the light would shine on his own case.  To that end, he's done numerous media interviews and starred in YouTube videos alleging strong-arm tactics by the feds.  There's this video, for example, alleging that the FTC is tampering with government witnesses to build a case against his company.     Read more
Donations, actions raise more questions about Swallow's judgment
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Saturday, Feb. 9 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — It remains to be seen whether embattled Utah Attorney General John Swallow will face criminal charges as a result of his dealings with indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson.  But his ethics and judgment have been called into question since Johnson accused him last month of helping broker a deal to bribe a U.S. senator in an effort to derail a federal investigation into Johnson's Internet marketing company.  The U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah acknowledged last month that it, along with the FBI, is investigating the allegations.  Regardless of the outcome, having the state's top law enforcement officer under investigation creates a cloud of suspicion that could diminish his effectiveness.  It also opens his recent decisions and statements to more scrutiny and has members of his own party questioning whether he can survive in office.  Campaign finance reports, two secret recordings, court documents and interviews with associates and others provide insight into how Swallow has moved through political circles, shows his willingness to advise characters whose dealings are in question, and puts in focus the roll money plays in gaining access to decision makers.  Swallow's dealings include:
  • Accepting a campaign donation from a St. George financial adviser who sued the state and who might refile a complaint that could end up before him.

  • Meeting Johnson in an Orem doughnut shop where the arrangement to head off the Federal Trade Commission investigation into Johnson's iWorks enterprise was discussed.

  • Accepting a campaign donation from a company the FTC later charged with consumer fraud.

  • Using Johnson's luxury houseboat on Lake Powell in 2010 and then wondering if it could hurt him politically, or worse.

  • Quietly telling a telemarketer during his election campaign that the attorney general's office should take over the state Division of Consumer Protection, an agency that has butted heads with the office regarding whom or whom not to investigate.
    Read more
Ex-A.G. Shurtleff told FBI about Swallow allegations last year
"I think John had some poor judgment"
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Monday, Feb. 11 2013

In the four-page document, Rawle said he kept $50,000 as his fee and paid Swallow $23,500 out of that money for consulting work he did on a Nevada cement plant project.  Swallow returned that money and asked Rawle to pay him from a different account, which he did, according to the affidavit.  "The stuff John's admitted was upsetting to me, clearly. I didn't know," Shurtleff said.  "After he told me he'd been consulting on the Nevada cement project, I was, 'What? What? Why?'"  Shurtleff said Swallow didn't violate office policy but he said it wasn't a good idea.  "I think John had some poor judgment. But as I told the FBI and the U.S. attorney, he's too trusting, but there's no way he intended to bribe a senator or any other official," he said.  Swallow's judgement and ethics have come into question since Johnson's allegations became public Jan. 5.  The U.S. Attorney's Office took the unusual step of acknowledging that it is investigating the accusations.  Campaign finance reports, secret recordings, court documents and interviews with associates and others showed Swallow's willingness to advise people whose dealings are in question, and put in focus the role money plays in gaining access to decision-makers.  Shurtleff came under fire during his 12 years in office for allegedly going easy on Internet marketers who contributed to his campaign fund.     Read more
Concerns over Swallow's dealings should have been shared with voters, state leaders say
By Lisa Riley Roche and Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, Feb. 12 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert and legislative leaders said Tuesday voters should have heard more about the allegations against Utah Attorney General John Swallow before his election in November.  Their comments came a day after former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff revealed he went to federal authorities shortly before the Nov. 6 election with information that Swallow, his hand-picked successor, might be involved in an alleged bribery scandal.  Herbert said it's up to Shurtleff to explain why he chose not to share his concerns with voters.  The allegations against Swallow did not surface until after he was sworn in as attorney general last month and are the subject of an ongoing federal investigation.  "I expect the information was incomplete," Herbert said of what voters knew about the allegations that Swallow helped broker a deal to bribe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  "Could it have been done better in hindsight? Probably, yes."  Still, the governor wasn't sure it would have made a difference in the outcome of the election in which Swallow, a fellow Republican, easily defeated his Democratic opponent, Weber County Attorney Dee Smith.  "My crystal ball is as foggy as anybody's," Herbert said.  "I think John Swallow and his qualifications and his experience as a legislator, working as the deputy in the attorney general's office, was well-qualified."  House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, though, said knowing the allegations against Swallow before the election might have changed at least one vote — her own.     Read more
Johnson being 'Swallowed' up by FTC
The Spectrum
Originally published February 13, 2013

All that I know about the FTC legal battle with Jeremy Johnson I have learned from the Internet; not the most reliable source of fact.  I make no presumption of his guilt or innocence.  Nor do I make any presumptions about the veracity of Attorney General John Swallow.  By way of disclosure I freely admit that I did not vote for John Swallow to be elected as attorney general.  I consider former AG, Mark Shurtleff, a friendly acquaintance whom I supported for political office many years ago.  Having disclosed what I believe to be relevant interests I have come to conclude that the federal government has overreached its authority, in principle.  It appears that the government is giving particular leeway to elected officials.  Setting aside substantial detail, it appears the federal government is conducting a justified and cautious investigation of Mr. Swallow's conduct.  I applaud that.  Further, from this writer's view, the federal government has already exonerated Sen. Harry Reid without any investigation at all.  Mr. Johnson on the other hand appears to be being subjected to an onslaught of government intrusion to which the FTC ought not to be entitled.  Within the US Constitution Article I, section 9 paragraph 3 the national government is specifically precluded from passing any "Bills Of Attainder."  By definition a bill of attainder is "a legislative act that singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial" (     Read more
Colorado City shows bizarre voting trends
By Evan Wyloge
Arizona Capitol Times - Phoenix, Arizona
Originally published February 14, 2013

Nearly every person in Arizona who voted in the 2012 election cast a ballot for some presidential candidate, whether Mitt Romney, Barack Obama or some other candidate — except in the polygamist community of Colorado City.  In the isolated area that straddles the Arizona-Utah border, and which is home to perhaps the most highly publicized Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community in the United States, one of every three voters didn't vote in the presidential race, but they did vote in others.  That is but one of the unusual pieces of data that emerge from a precinct-level vote analysis done jointly by the Arizona Capitol Times and the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.  Hundreds of Colorado City voters didn't cast a vote in the same handful of elections: the U.S. presidential race, the Arizona Senate race and the Mohave County attorney, sheriff and school superintendent's races.  But they did vote in the U.S. Senate race, the U.S. House of Representatives race, the Arizona House of Representatives race and the Mohave County treasurer, recorder and assessor races.  In races where the bloc of sporadic voters did participate, they topped the participation rate among all precincts in the county.  And in Colorado City, the winning candidates didn't just take a majority of the vote.  They won with closer to 100-percent victory margins than just about any other place in the state.     Read more
Democrats try to question Swallow, call for ethics reform
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Feb. 15 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — A Democratic lawmaker's attempt to ask embattled Utah Attorney General John Swallow some tough questions in an appropriations committee meeting Friday were headed off by a Republican senator who ruled them out of order.  Also Friday, both Democrats and Republicans discussed campaign ethics reforms, which are spurred in part by the controversy surrounding Swallow, though they went out of their way to not say that.  Meantime, the Utah Republican Party's central committee is holding its regular meeting Saturday with the controversy surrounding Swallow as a backdrop to those party discussions.  In the appropriations meeting, Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, wanted to know if Swallow was familiar with state administrative rules regarding outside employment and conflicts of interest.  Committee Chairman Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, called the question out of order.  "I have serious questions about the extent to which the AG's office, past and currently, is not in compliance with those rules," King said.  "I think that's squarely in the wheelhouse of what we're talking about on this committee."  Thatcher agreed those issues should be looked at but said they're policy not appropriations decisions.  "I also believe there's a court of law that handles these kinds of disputes," he said.  "I think if there was something that happened that was untoward, that should be shaken out in a court of law and not a political appropriations meeting."  King's questions came after Swallow told the committee the office was losing attorneys to higher paying jobs.  King contended his inquiry was germane to that discussion.     Read more
Democrats try to put Utah Attorney General Swallow in hot seat
Written by Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published February 15, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Democratic lawmakers tried to steer a Friday budget presentation by Utah's embattled Attorney General to the bribery allegations he's facing.  John Swallow has been accused of orchestrating a plan to quash a federal investigation by bribing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Both he and Reid have denied the allegations.  Salt Lake City Democrats Rep. Brian King and Sen. Jim Debakis questioned Swallow about the scandal during an appropriations hearing Friday morning.  The committee chair, Republican Sen. Daniel Thatcher of West Valley City, ruled the questions were out of order because they were unrelated to the budget.  Debakis and King argued the questions relate to attorney pay and affect their vote to give the office more money.  Swallow, a Republican, did not address their questions in the rest of his presentation.     See photo
A.G. John Swallow doesn't attend, but GOP leaders don't ignore elephant in the room
Allegations against Utah attorney general concern party officials
By Marjorie Cortez
Deseret News
Originally published Saturday, Feb. 16 2013

NEPHI — Embattled Utah Attorney General John Swallow may have been a no-show at the state Republican Party's Central Committee meeting Saturday, but there was no ignoring the elephant in the room.  Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright reminded committee members of the party's platform.  "We demand honesty, integrity, morality and accountability of our public officials. We will work to expose and stop corruption," Wright said, speaking at the Juab County Fairgrounds.  Wright said Swallow's challenges need to be viewed in two tracks: allowing a criminal investigation to run its course and determining whether his conduct raises ethical issues that the party needs to address.  Wright said he believes in the presumption of innocence, but added: "When you get elected to a public office, you're held to a higher standard. If some of those things happened, we need to stand for ethics reform to make sure it doesn't happen in the future."  Reforms could make it clear to a candidate that "I can't meet you at Krispy Kreme. We can't have a private meeting," Wright said, referring to a controversial meeting between Swallow and St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson that Johnson secretly recorded at an Orem doughnut shop.  During the discussion, the two discussed a financial arrangement to pay Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to derail a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Johnson's once lucrative Internet marketing company.  Reid has denied any knowledge of Johnson's case.  Swallow's outside consulting work while serving as chief deputy attorney general has come under fire in the wake of allegations made against him by Johnson, who has been indicted on federal charges.     Read more
Letters: Act on Swallow
Deseret News
Originally published Sunday, Feb. 17 2013

Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff states that he sees no evidence of a state crime in John Swallow's actions. But Shurtleff added there was potential for a federal criminal charge.

I had always thought that Utah had higher ethical standards than Washington, D.C. There is still time in this Utah legislative session to make this legend of moral leadership a reality.

It would also create a clearer borderline for what it means to serve the public good in Utah. This apparently needs to be defined for a few confused elected officials, state employees and political party leaders.

Anthony Arnason
Midvale     See photo
Utah GOP votes not to address claims against AG
Written by Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published February 19, 2013

NEPHI — The GOP State Central Committee has voted against formally addressing claims of ethical misconduct against Utah Attorney General John Swallow.  While state GOP Chairman Thomas Wright reaffirmed his call for ethics reform at the meeting Saturday in Nephi, he said Swallow is entitled to a presumption of innocence as a federal investigation continues into the allegations.  The committee "wanted to wait and see (the outcome of the investigation) before making any decisions," Wright said after the meeting.  Swallow, a Republican, has been accused of orchestrating a plan to quash a federal investigation by bribing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Both he and Reid have denied the allegations.  Jeremy Johnson, a Utah businessman charged with Internet fraud, has said Swallow was part of a failed effort to derail the investigation into his business practices.  Johnson sought help from Swallow in 2010 when Swallow was chief deputy attorney general.  Also opposing the party taking any immediate action on Swallow was Sean Reyes, who lost a Republican primary to Swallow in June.  "I think people are rushing to judgment," Reyes said.  "John ought to be given time to make his case, and we are a party of due process."  Some Utah Republicans criticized the committee's lack of action, saying it sends the wrong message to voters and it's time to act.     Read more
Bell, Swallow investigations test the public trust
By Lisa Riley Roche and Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Feb. 22 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — With abuse of power allegations surfacing against Lt. Gov. Greg Bell this week, two top Utah elected officials now find themselves under federal investigation.  Although Utah politicians have been involved in various scandals over the years, rarely, if ever, has one, let alone two — Attorney General John Swallow and now Bell — faced possible federal criminal indictments.  "It's not a very common event to have elected officials interviewed by the FBI. It certainly raises some cautions about the conduct of state government when you have the federal government investigating," said Matthew Burbank, a University of Utah political science professor.  Some people might lose confidence in government, especially those who already have a cynical view of politics, he said.  On the other hand, Burbank said, it shows that even powerful people are subject to the law.  Regardless of the outcome of FBI investigations into Bell and Swallow, their fellow Republicans who control both the Utah House and Senate say those cases heighten the need for policy changes in the state's executive branch.  But they also made a point to say it's unfair to compare the two situations.  "Having the public trust their public officials, their elected officials is very important," said House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo.  "It appears it may be time for us to address some things."  Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said Thursday his office and the FBI are looking into whether Bell commissioned an audit to interfere with a child welfare case allegedly involving the daughter of one of Bell's friends.     Read more
In our opinion: Questions for Swallow
Deseret News editorial
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Feb. 22 2013

In a legislative committee meeting one week ago, Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, tried to ask Utah Attorney General John Swallow a question that related directly to the scandal brewing in Swallow's office. King wanted to know whether Swallow was "familiar with state administrative rules regarding outside employment and conflicts of interest."

The committee had just heard Swallow complain that his office was losing attorneys to higher paying jobs. One of the allegations surrounding Swallow is that, when he was chief deputy attorney general, he accepted a $23,500 consulting fee from someone who was trying to influence the federal investigation of a St. George businessman. One could naturally draw a connection between low salaries and the perceived need to acquire money from questionable outside sources.

Unfortunately, the committee's chairman said the question was out of order and that it was more appropriate for a court of law.

But it was exactly the kind of question Swallow needs to answer to the public — one of several pointed questions that demand an explanation, regardless of any pending federal investigation. It also serves as an example of how everything Utah's attorney general does, even making a simple salary request for his attorneys, will be under suspicion so long as a cloud remains over his office.     Read more
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Read Arizona Senators Gray's and Gould's Arizona SB 1433 regarding the Colorado City Police, dated March 15, 2012

Read the State of Utah 2012 General Session's S.B.291 regarding the Hildale Police Officers, introduced on March 2, 2012

Read Arizona Senators Gray's and Gould's Arizona SB 1433 regarding the Colorado City Police, dated February 8, 2012

Read the September 7, 2010 Mohave County Board of Supervisors' meeting minutes where BOS Buster Johnson tells Colorado City resident, Jake Barlow, he is going to vote against accepting real property (Parcel No. 404-21-094) by Quit Claim Deed and in consideration of $10 from the United Effort Plan Trust for use as a public library providing library services in Colorado City.

Read the discussion on establishing a government facility in the Colorado City area in the Minutes of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors' meeting held April 20, 2009

Read the April 30, 2008 Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard's joint letter to Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV asking his assistance in arranging a meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice to discuss how the federal government can help the states with polygamy-related investigations and prosecutions.

Read the December 13, 2007 Utah Court of Appeals Opinion on the State of Utah v Terrill C. Johnson, Mayor of Colorado City

Read the February 24, 2006 Utah Supreme Court Opinion In Re Inquiry of a Judge, The Honorable Walter K. Steed

Read the 2005 Hinkley Journal of Politics study Child Abuse in Arizona and Utah Polygamous Families by Carly Castle starting on page 33

Read the minutes of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors' Meeting held March 3, 2008
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"Religion" is no excuse for committing child abuse
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