Wednesday, June 11, 2008

delaying means denying

Today I want to write more about the brouhaha over the state treasurer race, not because it is another juicy example of Utah Republican infighting with claims of corruption, but because it is part of another pattern in American politics and policy-making. That is, LG Herbert's decision to postpone a ruling on challenger Ellis' complaint until after the June 24th primary is par for the course.

The New York Times sat on a Pulitzer prize winning story about Bush's violation of FISA for over a year because the editors didn't want to influence the 2004 presidential election. Thanks to Sen. Pat Roberts, the Senate Intelligence Committee sat on its Phase II report for nearly 4 years. Phase II of course, told us that the Bush Administration--including the President himself--knowlingly distorted evidence and knowingly relied on bad evidence to push for the Iraq War in Fall 2002-Spring '03. Why the delay? The purported need to take the politics out of the decision. The commission set up to investigate the intelligence regarding WMDs was delayed, you guessed it, until after the 2004 election. Bush stated at the time that politics needed to be taken out of the equation, so the delay was necessary to avoid a blame game. I could go on and on with examples.

But the point here is this: by delaying a decision on Ellis' complaint against state Rep. Walker, LG Herbert is in effect siding with Rep. Walker and more importantly, depriving the voters the ability to make their decision based upon important information. Here's a more elegant version by the Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board:
Herbert says he has gathered information about the job-offer charge, but he has delayed making a decision to refer the matter to the attorney general until after the primary. Herbert issued a statement, saying, in part, "I am concerned that any action on my part at this time could influence participation in or the outcome of the June 24 primary election."
That may be so. But Herbert should not let that influence the timing of his passing information to the attorney general. Voters know what they know. Justice delayed is justice denied.
If Walker wins the primary despite the controversies, any delays of the investigation by Herbert simply leave his candidacy under a cloud longer. If he loses, the issue of his being a legal candidate becomes moot.
Herbert should do his duty and let the chips fall.
The claim that delaying an investigation or report helps remove political machinations is a farce. In fact, the opposite is true: political machinations cause the delaying of an investigation or report. The idea that ensuring that politically damaging information is released after its ability to cause political damage is sound public policy is simply laughable. Now if only more reporters would have the gall to point this out to elected officials who seek to delay.

1 comment:

Mark E. Towner said...

David, What Herbert does not want to say really is Walker is going to get creamed in the Primary so why cause a fuss, but Walker is Curt Bramble and GOP party leadership's guy, so better leave it alone.

Ellis really pissed off Curt on the WCF deal, causing the state to lose $50 million bucks. I could go into more issues but will refrain.

On another note, Carrie will be going to Washington for Stirba's argument before the US Supreme Court on October 15th. Is that cool or what?

Captain Mark