Monday, February 25, 2008

Buttars late than never

It seems saying racist crap and threatening a judge who ruled against your friend while chairing the Judiciary Committee does have consequences.
Sen. Chris Buttars has been stripped of his chairmanship of the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee, which screens the governor's nominees for the bench, and replaced by Sen. Greg Bell.
Senate President John Valentine announced the change today, but would not say why the decision was made, beyond noting that it is the prerogative of the president to select committee leaders.
And this is what he spent yesterday doing:
Sen. Chris Buttars stood at a microphone at Calvary Baptist Church on Sunday and apologized to the congregation for racially insensitive comments he made on the floor of the Utah Senate.
"All I can do," Buttars said, "is say I'll beg your forgiveness. It was wrong. It was stupid. And I ask, if it's possible, forgive me."
Sen. Pres. Valentine seems to have stripped Buttars of his chairmanship more for the letter and less for the offensive comments. And that letter to the judge is really what makes him unfit to chair a committee overseeing the judiciary.
Reports of the letter, which the judge filed in the case as "ex parte communication," reportedly caused a stir in the legal community.
Retired University of Utah law professor John Flynn called Buttars contact with the judge "far beyond the pale."
"No elected representative should engage in that kind of conduct, particularly if they have a position of power in the Legislature dealing with the judiciary," Flynn said. "It's just not an appropriate thing to do."
As much as Sen. Buttars would like, this story has lots of legs. He should really compare notes with ex-Sen. George Allen, who could have been the presumptive Republican nominee for president right now if he hadn't called a college kid Macaca.

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