By Daryl Acumen, For the Deseret News
On March 14th 2012, Deseret News staff writer Jared Page published a story titled “Utah GOP battling efforts to manipulate party caucuses.” In it, he describes FreedomWorks’ statewide effort to persuade its like-minded followers to get nominated, even at the expense of doing things out of the ordinary, or out of step with the state’s Republican Party rules.
The smoking gun was a mailer FreedomWorks sent out to members. The mailer urged its recipients, for example, to hurry and skip the pledge of allegiance and prayer if it would put the attendee in a better position to run for leadership position, even if the attendee didn’t necessarily have an interest in serving in that position.
The Manchurian-esque effort backfired and, as most of you know, FreedomWorks was demonized as a result. Polls show 57 percent of state delegates have a negative impression of FreedomWorks.
In the article, Page states that Russ Walker, the FreedomWorks’ vice president for political and grassroots campaigns, told him the whole mailer was a big misunderstanding. He writes: “Walker said the packets were sent out before the rules for the 2012 GOP caucuses were finalized, resulting in confusion.”
When I confronted FreedomWorks officials in Washington, D.C., they backed up Russ Walker’s statement, claiming that the organization had no idea it was breaking state party rules before the mailers were sent out. At one point, officials even denied the mailers were theirs.
However, a closer look at the timeline shows an apparent contradiction in Russ Walker’s statement.
The truth, as I calculate it, is that caucus rules were finalized at the last meeting of the Utah Republican Party State Central Committee on Jan. 21, 2012 — almost two months before the caucuses were held. The rules were posted online at the state party website on Feb. 15, a full month before the caucuses. The Freedom Works mailers, which many interpreted as encouragement to supporters to break those rules, were sent out on March 8, 2012.
There’s proof of this: Please observe this scanned PDF copy of the now infamous mailer that FreedomWorks sent to its supporters.
If you scroll down to the last page of the scanned document you will notice the postmark, which clearly shows that this mailer was sent to Freedom Works supporters around March 8, 2012. That’s three weeks after the caucus rules were posted online, and more than six weeks after the rules were finalized by the State Central Committee.
What do we do, as voters, when an out-of-state organization comes to Utah, appears to manipulate our election system, appears to engage in deceptive polling practices, appears to pollute our media market with negative ads, and then appears to be dishonest to our local media outlets?
Personally I think it’s time we ask Russ Walker, Matt Kibbe and the rest of the FreedomWorks gang (and other out-of-state Nanny PACS like them) to pack their bags and go home!
Join me in sending the message to FreedomWorks in Washington D.C. that their brand of politics is not welcome and won’t be tolerated in Utah.
Daryl Acumen is a Republican precinct chairman for Cedar Hills 03 and a Senator Orrin Hatch supporter. He is also a manager for Global Search Analytics, Office of Digital Strategy, Hewlett-Packard. Acumen is part of Utah Delegates, a group of delegates tweeting and blogging about their experience being a delegate in Utah. This group was assembled by KSL and the Deseret News. Follow them on Twitter: @UTDelegates