The election season is at full-throttle and this is the time where some people check their scruples at the door and are willing to say or do anything to advance themselves. Today's example is the Weber County Democrats who recently made some noise by trying to accuse Republicans (i.e. me) of misusing campaign funds. Here are some excerpts from today's Standard Examiner story:
"Utah’s incumbent GOP lawmakers sometimes find themselves flush with campaign cash, and end up using some of those funds to make charitable contributions or to pay expenses related to their legislative work. It’s all completely legal, but Weber County Democrats have taken issue with the practice."
“How can Jeremy Peterson claim to be a fiscal conservative if he is spending so much of his campaign money on noncampaign expenses? It makes us wonder if this use of corporate cash is influencing his decisions in the legislature,” Weber County Democratic Party Chairman John Miles said in a recent statement, also noting that most of Peterson’s donations come from outside House District 9, with more than two-thirds flowing from Political Action Committees or corporations."
“Even if he is not being influenced, campaign contributions should only be used for campaigns and not for Ubers and nights at the Hilton.”
Wait! Stop the tape. Lets break down this reckless accusation into pieces and point out the irony here:
Accusation #1: How can Jeremy Peterson claim to be a fiscal conservative if he is spending so much of his campaign money on noncampaign expenses?
Fiscal conservatism is about exercising restraint in spending other people's money, namely taxpayer money. Campaign funds belong to the candidate and the candidate is responsible to spend them wisely. I make it a personal policy not to take contributions from anyone I am not willing to vote against. Also, note that Mr. Miles makes no claim that Weber County Democrat candidates are fiscally conservative. This is because they are not.
Accusation #2: It makes us wonder if this use of corporate cash is influencing his decisions in the legislature.
My record on all accounts is transparent. I have purchased policy books, paid for food when traveling to Legislative conferences, and paid for charitable causes along with regular campaigning activities. People donate campaign funds to candidates they agree with. For me, people donate because they agree with my worldview.
Accusation #3: Most of Peterson's contributions come from outside his district.
FACT: 85% of Kathie Darby's contributions came from outside her district.
Accusation #4: More than two-thirds of campaign contributions flowed from Political Action Committees or corporations
FACT: 86.7% of Democrat House Minority Leader Brian King's campaign contributions flowed from Political Action Committees or corporations.
Accusation #5: Campaign contributions should only be used for campaigns and not for Ubers and nights at the Hilton
FACT: State law permits the use of campaign contributions to pay for expenses related to performing the job of a Legislator. This includes travel and lodging expenses. This is not illegal or unethical. It is a policy that makes sense. In fact, Democrat Minority Leader Brian King spent campaign funds on four separate trips out of state this year alone. Was he on vacation? No, he was learning about the issues so he could properly represent his district. Most legislators, including myself, use campaign funds to attend such informative and productive events.
So, ironically, as the Weber County Democrats have tried to make something out of my transparent yet boring campaign finances, they have poked themselves in the eye by being guilty of their own criticisms.
Now, lets get on to talking about the real issues affecting voters in our district.
CORRECTION 11/4/2016: A previous version of this article indicated that Kathie Darby had recieved $1000 from Planned Parenthood for her campaign. That information was incorrect and I apologize for getting the information wrong.