Monday, June 02, 2008

treasurer fight

I disagree with folks that say that general elections are nastier than primary elections. Karl Rove used John McCain's adoption of a Bangladeshi girl to insinuate that McCain had fathered a illegitimate child with a black woman. Does anything between Bush and Gore or Kerry come even close? On the Democratic side, Kerry and Gephardt aides ran an ad with bin Laden's face all over it saying that Iowa Democrats couldn't risk putting Howard Dean in the White House. [The only thing close to this in a general election is the Georgia Senate race between triple amuptee and Vietnam Vet Sen. Max Cleeland and now Sen. Saxby Chamblis]

Now here's Utah's latest nasty primary:
Rep. Mark Walker, R-Sandy, is accused of offering current chief deputy treasurer Richard Ellis a position if Walker were to win, with the implication that Ellis should drop out of the race. But Walker, who won the Republican nomination with 58 percent at the convention, said his meeting with Walker was to dispel rumors that he would fire Ellis and his office if elected.

Walker said he became aware of rumors that Ellis' staffers were worried they would lose their jobs if he were elected. Feeling that was unfair to everyone involved, he met with Ellis to dispel the rumor. He said he told Ellis that he respected the good work the office had done.

Ellis says unequivocally that Walker broke the law and requested on Friday that the Lieutenant Governor's Office investigate the issue. Statute prohibits a promise of employment, and Ellis said an intermediary told him that if he were not in the race he could be a deputy.

"I don't want it to be a 'he said, she said' situation. That's why I want it investigated," Ellis said.

To complicate the issue, it appears that a mutual acquaintance and vice president of public finance at Zions Bank relayed messages between the candidates. Walker stresses that even though he knew Ellis was a candidate, his intent in meeting with him was to dispel harmful rumors. Ellis insists that a job offer was made. But except for the single meeting, the communication between the two passed through the intermediary via e-mail.
So either this is a game of telephone where 'I won't fire you if I win' is misunderstood as 'I will get you hired if you drop out.' Or the subtly of the message was conveyed loud and clear, and this is another case of an unethical state legislator. But in either case, it just got to be a biter primary campaign.

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