New Campaign Slogan

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I would not have applauded“.  Expect it on campaign literature across the state and to hear it as a part of stump speeches for candidates running against an incumbent Representative – Republican or Democrat.  Every citizen in Utah will “get it”. Previously “safe” Representatives will now be looking at some intense heat from within their own districts if they don’t distance themselves and NOW from Thursday night’s fiasco.

Fair or not, true or not, perception is reality and the perception is not good.  Some serious – butt-whuppin’ serious – damage has been done to the Utah legislature by HotTubGate and the subsequent ApplauseGate. In the stunned moments after Garn’s bombshell, Speaker Clark led the House in a standing ovation.  Many legislators – but not all – followed suit.  A number have expressed private regrets since then and a strong degree of anger at being placed in such an awkward situation and feeling forced to go along.

While I can not name every legislator who did NOT participate in the applause and/or subsequent hug-fest – I was also stunned and shocked – there are a few that DID stand out.  Rep John Dougall stood with his hands by his side, then bolted out the side door, avoiding Garn altogether.  Rep. Becky Lockhart broke into tears and stormed out, WITHOUT hugging or even looking at Garn.  Rep. Bigelow rubbed his hands together instead of applauding.  Someone – I couldn’t tell who – stood, then immediately sat down again without applauding.  Rep Harper did not hug, shake hands with or otherwise acknowledge Garn.  I am sure I missed a few others, and for that, I apologize.

In addition, there are a number of other House members who feel betrayed by the Speaker and by Rep Garn for putting them all in such an untenable situation.  In the shock of the moment, many did not catch the full impact of his statement – and he left out plenty.  Like the fact that they were naked. That she was 15.  That he was married.  And her employer. And had been her Sunday School teacher.  Stunned by the revelation, then put on the spot by a Speaker who said “I hope you will remain with us” as he rose to applaud, almost all copied him, apparently feeling they could acknowledge the work he has done in the Utah House without condoning his behavior.  (Like co-sponsoring the no-sexting bill that would have made it a felony for a minor to send via cell phone a picture of themselves naked to another minor. Or sitting on the House Ethics committee)

Now that some time has passed and the true import of Thursday night’s events has started sinking in, there are a number of legislators who clearly do not condone what happened in any fashion.  For those House members, it’s important to distance themselves in a public way from both Garn’s behavior and the perception that the House was protecting one of the good-old-boys.  Expectations are that we will soon see a strongly worded letter signed by as many Representatives as possible denouncing Garn’s actions, the timing of his announcement, and the carefully worded message that left out so much.  I expect the letter will also call on Dave Clark to resign as Speaker of the House for his lapses in judgment in dealing with this whole sordid mess.  If you are a House Rep that is dismayed, take the opportunity to show that you CAN police yourselves and are NOT complicit in supporting members who commit crimes.

If you don’t, I think you can pretty much bank on the highly unethical UEG initiative sailing through at the ballot box.  And an early retirement for yourselves.  That would really be a shame – Utah’s House has some very good Representatives.  Time to show it.

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23 Responses to “New Campaign Slogan”

  1. J Says:

    Holly, don’t you think it’s time to start letting this go and wind itself down? I think everybody wants to move on, yet you keep beating it and beating it. Your extremist views on this topic have significantly altered the way I look at your work as a blogger.

  2. Amy Says:

    A note to J: Garn’s announcement was just made last Thursday evening, and some major events took place over the weekend (Garn’s letter of resignation, Clark’s public acceptance of that resignation). I hardly think that posting about such events for four days (and a few hours) is “beating” something to death. She covers Utah’s state legislature. If she ignored this story, what kind of political blogger would she be?

    If you’ve respected Holly’s work in the past, maybe you should give her the benefit of the doubt that she might be on to something here. She’s recognizing a situation that could very well hurt many state leaders, at a time when the public’s perception of them is already extremely low. It’s never a good idea for people of a particular political persuasion to bury their heads in the sand about the faults of their associates. When they do, they’re just leaving the ultimate reckoning to be done by foes rather than friends.

  3. Lynn Taylor Says:

    Holly… great work, once again. You’ve got good instincts. Keep following them. 😉

  4. Ted R. Says:

    I just watched the Youtube video of this. Rep. Lockhart is seen clapping at the 1:20 mark. Either you are lying about her, or she has lied to you. Which is it?

  5. kjus Says:

    Lockhart is clapping at the 19 second mark.

  6. hollyonthehill Says:

    I am sorry I was not clear – I will try to clarify. Becky Lockhart clapped, but did not participate in the hugfest. Rep. Harper clapped, but would not look at Garn and sat down as soon as he could. There are more who both clapped and hugged who now are feeling very unhappy and uncomfortable at how the whole thing went down.

  7. Ted R. Says:

    I’ll accept your clarification. But it is interesting that you seem to pick and choose who you give leeway. Rep. Lockhart, yes. Speaker Clark, no. Either be consistent or just admit that there are certain lawmakers you cheer for and others you don’t.

  8. kjus Says:

    They are just following what the Speaker told them to do. There are clear images of the individuals who participated in the hugfest. Crummy way to end 45 very long days.

  9. JBT Says:

    Get a life Holly.

  10. Ted R. Says:

    I totally understand, because I ALWAYs do what the Speaker tells me.

  11. theSTARforum Says:

    The thing about this that needs to be driven home is that it is time to bring back to our government positions COMPLETE integrity. These are some of the most respected and powerful offices in our state. I am sick of public officials having no private virtue, and therefore will undoubtedly be without public virtue. Public virtue has been lost in our society, and we as American citizens have allowed it. It’s time to cleanse the inner vessle. Start right at the state level, and bring people that have complete integrity into positions of power, well they will have nothing hanging over their head.

    I don’t expect perfection, but I expect disclosure of mistakes, so no one can bribe them, blackmail them, or otherwise influence their vote.

  12. Rodney Bliss Says:

    I’m sure you’ll also get a lot of “I wasn’t there,” “They didn’t explain how serious this was,” and “I was simply recognizing his work as a legislator.”

  13. Greg Says:

    Ted R

    I have been one of the hardest on the legislators but I believe not all deserve the same rebuke.

    Try to remember that almost no one, besides the Speaker, had no advance notice of what Kevin Garn was going to say or any of the circumstances that have now become public, Garn gave an extremely sanitized version of what happened, and the Speaker pushed everyone towards an ovation.

    The Speaker and Garn were the only two who were prepared. I was standing in the House gallery watching and it took me several minutes to get over the shock and realize what was happening. I caught on before the Speaker called for the ovation.

    I was able to watch some legislators as they “caught on” could the see change in their conduct and demeanor. Rep. Lockhart was one of those who I noticed that “got it” and reacted appropriately.

  14. Mary Bishop Says:

    Nice – but do you think any of them are listening?

  15. Lady Logician Says:

    Jbt – John maybe you should follow your own advice. No one FORCES you to read Holly’s blog. You come here willingly (in order to denigrate Holly). If you do not like what she writes – DON’T READ IT!

    It’s that simple!

    LL

  16. Regina Says:

    Wow. I’m a little surprised at a couple of the responses here. Flat out accusatory language from responders demanding gentle lukewarm commentary from Holly.

    Extreme? J, I don’t think Holly comes close to extreme in any way. Simply bringing up what’s going on in the last few days as they are happening isn’t really quite beating a dead horse as you are implying.

    Ted, as far as leeway goes in THIS post, I don’t see any given at all. In fact, I don’t see a value of support or non support in the commentary of what she saw. I’ve read this twice now to be sure, I don’t see an “at-a-girl” anywhere.

    The video just shows how deceiving the introduction and the “apologetic confession” was. I, too, may have clapped (though I’d like to believe I’d be able to decipher what was happening quickly) because of the innocent, yet contradictory, tone of the statement. Sitting in a hot tub with a 15 year old without any sexual conduct? What’s the big deal about that? My mind pictured an open public place. Oh, wait, you paid how much to help her with what?? In less than two full minutes (of him actually speaking) all that oppositional information doesn’t really have time to make sense. It really looks and sounds like a guy who made a silly misjudgment and all these years later is being made out to look like a cad–in that 2 minute 7 second video.

    Holly makes that point. Many applauded but then after the statement had a second to settle into their brains and heart they realized what a slimy thing he did–though, not to it’s full extend, I’m sure. OBVIOUSLY what he did was disgusting. Why on earth would you give someone THOUSANDS of dollars for simply sitting in a hot tub at the same time as another person? Really? If that’s the case, public pools, gyms, and spas are the place to go if your a teen, just think of the loot you can come away with for simply having been in the water with other people older than 17!

    The fact that he failed to mention he was her Sunday School Teacher, so had full knowledge of her age and her life circumstances, that he was her EMPLOYER, so had immediate authority and power over her, that he was married, and that ever-so minor detail of being NAKED with her (so obviously NOT in an open public place but in private where intimidation could be at play), AND that she was 15 versus his words of “nearly half my age” shows a disturbing talent and pattern of brushing important things under the carpet, fraudulently representing circumstances to ingratiate himself to the public and colleagues while continuing to defile trust, honor, and his victim. This wasn’t just a simple mistake, not a lapse in otherwise good judgment, and, in fact, if this were a different set of to people NO ONE would be having a “debate” about this abomination. He’s a predator leading Operation White Wash.

    His performance–and make no mistake, it was a PERFORMANCE–was appalling and reprehensible. He through all of his supporters, colleges, and family under the bus. I don’t know how I feel about Clark, but I do feel Garn is responsible for this whole fiasco. What a betrayal!

    HOW on earth can Utah trust any legislature practice developed and/or supported by a person we are fully aware of having beguiled the population in despicable ways from here on out??

    WHY would Utah want to?

    Mr Cover-things-up is NOT the guy I want to trust for honesty and information I need to base my life practices on. Do you really feel comfortable and confident that someone who has so significantly lied and fooled those around him to be in a high position of power?? And would you place such a character in your superiority on purpose with full disclosure that he’s a liar, a fraud, and a person who would be on the list of sex offenders had he done this in current times?

    Think about it.

  17. JBT Says:

    LL I have the right to read any or all of the blogs on the blogosphere I like. I also have the right to my opinion. While you and Holy on the Hill are preaching to your respective choirs, I believe it is my solemn duty to remind you conservatives that you are not the only ones here in Yew-tah. I also believe I am doing you both a favor by truthfully and honestly telling you how you come across to those of us who do not share your narrow, right wing, and as of late self-righteous views of the world. All of this is being provided free of charge. No need to thank me, I am glad to be of service.

  18. Greg Says:

    Jbt,

    Thank you so much for representing, truthfully and honestly, and free of charge, the pro child sexual exploitation segment of Yew-tah so tragically under represented in this narrow, right wing, self righteous state. You are truly an example to us all.

  19. Ted R. Says:

    Holly, you’ve shot your wad.

  20. Trowe Says:

    Excellent writing. Random thought, but do these representatives think that by stating that “applause does not mean we condone the action” translate to mean “I condemn his action!”?

    I keep hearing people say they don’t condone…am I missing the ones condemning?

    Hopefully the GOP meeting tonight will help to clarify their position. Although one wonders, why do they need a closed door meeting to discuss a very open door standing ovation?

  21. JBT Says:

    Greg

    Just because I haven’t joined the crowd of self-righteous stone throwing hypocrites condemning Rep Garn for something he did 25 years ago does not make me pro child sexual exploitation. You are incredibly crass to even make such a comment.

    I realize that your own children were sexually molested, and for that I have a great deal of empathy. My younger sister had that experience when she was young with an older uncle in the family. That does not give me license to overreact to an incident that occurred 25 years ago that Rep. Garn has already paid for many times over.

    What Garn did with that young lady was wrong, especially given his relationship to her as an employer and former Sunday school teacher. That one brief fling with an attractive 15 year old girl does not make him an habitual child sexual molester. What it makes him is an incredibly stupid man to act upon his sexual attraction to a girl so much younger than himself—given so much he had to lose.

    Garn has borne the burden of his shameful act by resigning his political position and facing the public response to his admission. To continue the harassment at this point is nothing more than being vindictive and mean spirited and wearing one’s spiritual and moral superiority on one’s sleeve. The vicious attacks upon Clark are even more misplaced and unwarranted. Right or wrong, he simply wanted to acknowledge Garn’s record of public service.

    If this is the LDS version of Christian Values, I think those who question whether it is a truly Christian church may have a credible argument after all.

  22. policygirl Says:

    1st) LL–Are you serious? When Holly made the choice to open her blog to the public, she effectively made the choice to open herself up to criticism. She doesn’t seem to be bothered with it–why are you? Pipe down, for pete’s sake.

    2nd) Yeah, Holly–pretty irresponsible of you to claim that you personally witnessed Lockhart, Harper, et. al. NOT clapping when, CLEARLY, they were. (A bloated sense of self importance, perhaps?) Did it ever occur to you to consider the possibility that you might be mistaken or that something else had transpired–something you had never supposed and something of which you were not previously aware? Perhaps you should follow David Clark’s lead by confessing, “Had I known then what I know now I probably would have handled things differently.”

    3rd) How come no one is talking about Pamela Atkinson’s actions after Garn’s quasi-confession??? I see her taking part in the “hug-fest”. Puh! So I guess it’s tireless advocate for the poor and homeless by day; brazen, hugging, clapping hussy by night! THAT WITCH!!! Clapping, standing, AND hugging??? What was she thinking? She should resign and state lawmakers should revoke the 2002 resolution honoring her service to the people of Utah! STONE HER!!!!

    Sound absurd? Well, it should. After all, Pamela (like David Clark) has served this community well and with dignity for several years. Yes, she clapped. Yes, she stood. And yes, she hugged. But bear in mind that none of those things are illegal, immoral, or unseemly considering she was doing them based on the best information available to her at the time.

  23. Chancy Gardner Says:

    I believe that the republicans should change their name to the Hippocrates party. They tell us that Pres. Clinton should be impeached and did impeach him for his lies and then or now they say lets not beat a dead horse to death. All the republicans can do is Lie and denies. You just watch how the speaker reacted at Rep. Hansen called for his resignation. As far as I know He, Hansen was the only one that did not stand or clap. He is the only one to which there is real honor and integrity. It takes a democrat to be the real check and balance in the Utah House and rest should be ashamed for following Clark.

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