Utah Allows Elected Official To Lobby… And Vote For Bill Her Company Is Pushing

from the utah-politics-at-work dept

Tim already covered some of the problems with Utah’s repeated attempts to ban (or greatly limit) keyword advertising on trademarked terms. However, there were two separate disturbing issues related to this, both brought up by Eric Goldman, that seemed worth discussing. Both involve two of the legislators who voted on the bill. The first, Rep. S. Clark, voted against the bill, but for flabbergasting reasons. You see, it wasn’t that he disliked the idea that companies would be blocked from advertising on competitive keywords, it was because he wanted to pin all the liability on Google:

“We should be going after the Googles that are creating this problem. They’re the villains.” …. “If we’re going to use the strength and resources of the state to go after businesses, then we ought to go after the business that is causing the harm. … We ought to go after the Googles with the state’s resources and reputation.”

Then, there’s Rep. Jennifer “Jen” Seelig, who voted for the bill. But, that shouldn’t be surprising. You see, even though she’s an elected official in the state legislator, she’s also still employed as a registered lobbyist for 1-800 Contacts, the company that has been pushing the bill. Apparently that sort of conflict of interest isn’t seen as a problem in Utah.

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Companies: 1-800 contacts

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Comments on “Utah Allows Elected Official To Lobby… And Vote For Bill Her Company Is Pushing”

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I Escaped Utah says:

Utah: corrupt, backward, evil

I lived in the USA’s only theocracy for eight years. I’m from TX originally, and I have to tell you… few places are crazier or more conservative (for no good reason) than TX, but Utah is crazier, more corrupt, more conservative, and ruled by religion more than TX could ever dream of.

Since 90% of Utah’s population belongs to the LDS (Mormon) Church, most of their elected officials are also members. They’ll tell you that religion has no influence on government actions, but they’re lying. Even when the governor has opportunities to appoint non-mormons to positions that absolutely are influenced by religion (State Liquor Control Board), a Mormon is chosen over a non-LDS. It’s disgusting, immoral, unethical, and probably illegal.

Utah is one of the most beautiful places in the US. Unfortunately the theocracy there makes it nearly un-liveable for anyone who isn’t a member of their little club.

I advocate peaceful overthrow of the state government… It would probably be legal, and definitely would be the morally correct course of action. Instances of corruption like this article describes are commonplace and accepted there.

Yakko Warner says:

Re: Still

Sadly, it’s not surprising. There’s at least one or two that come up any time Utah is mentioned.

Of course, that’s nothing compared to when the article actually references the Church. There was an article a while back about a copyrighted LDS document that was published online, with Masnick calling the Church out on “Streisand Effect” for trying to get it taken down. The comment thread exploded. Guess how many were about copyright, compared to derisive comments about the LDS Church’s beliefs?

Sean says:

What a dumb law. “companies would be blocked from advertising on competitive keywords” the good thing is 1-800 Contacts would not be able to advertise using the keywords “discount contacts”. Or now that I think about it this would effectively ban 99% of ads unless you have a product that no other competitor has. I like it lets lobby to remove all ads.

CaptainCode (profile) says:

I live in utah

I find it interesting, as Darren Kopp pointed out, that generally commenters are reasonably good at staying on subject. Yet for some reason this post has turned into an attack on someone else’s beliefs? I don’t understand how people feel that is ok. The other thing that I find interesting, is that people have made comments about how this is “common” or “accepted” when that is blatantly false. There has been quite the up-roar here lately as the public learns of these conflicts of interest. The common constituent (as I’m sure is the case in ANY state) doesn’t have time to check each legislator against every registered lobbyist list. But as we learn of them, there is very much a public uproar about it. Check out the local Utah news sites. So please, before you decide to berate us, and tear us down verify your facts, separate fact from opinion.

Thomas O'Toole (user link) says:


True, the Utah legislature has got to be some kind of mess if elected officials are registered lobbyists. But how much of a difference is there between taking a lobbyist’s fee and taking a campaign contribution? This happens all the time and it is, for better or worse, an accepted part of public politics. Should teachers who are in state legislatures be allowed to vote on their pay and benefits? That happens too. I hear Sen. Hatch (R-Utah) is a musician. Maybe he shouldn’t be allowed to vote on copyright legislation? Should former servicemembers vote on military appropriations? Etc. All you can really do is insist on disclosure, which apparently is in place even in Utah. The voters can decide how much of this they want to put up with.

Eric Goldman (profile) says:

Re: disclosure

Tom, just to clarify, Seelig isn’t just a paid lobbyist for 1-800 Contacts among her many clients. Instead, she is an employee of 1-800 Contacts. As a result, I don’t think this is a matter of mere disclosure. Legislators who are employees of a company should not be allowed to vote on laws advanced by their employers, PERIOD. I’m sure I could articulate a zillion rationales for this rule, but to me it’s so self-evident that it shouldn’t even need explication. Eric.

spaceman spiff says:

There should be a federal law that forbids this sort of egregious and corrupt behavior at any level in the country (federal, state, or local). If you are an elected official, then you cannot lobby, vote, or propose laws that benefit your private employer or company that you represent in any manner. She should be impeached and removed from office! What a biatch…

Same Old says:

I agree Thomas (#15) this is merely a more blatant example of the pandering politicians already do to their constituency. If you think that other politicians are less influenced by lobbyist money because they are not “employees” of a company you are delusional. In my opinion, someone who makes your reelection campaign possible is in largely the same position as someone who pays you a salary. If they ask you to promote certain legislation chances are you’re going to do it.

As long as we allow lobbyist money to influence politics then it seems myopic and hypocritical to point to this as an egregious example of conflict of interest. If this fact is known to the voters, and they still elect her to the legislature then that is a their choice.

Additionally, I would like to echo the disdain for people who have a knee jerk reaction of blaming the Mormon Church for a situation in which there is no evidence they (or their teachings) have any involvement. You seem to have much of the intolerance you claim pervades much of Utah’s denizens.

Tristin (profile) says:

Put the pitchforks down

Being one of the few, vastly outnumbered liberals in Utah, I can vouch for the fact that there are a lot of problems with the way things work here. However, to say that it is unbearable to live here is whiny bitching from someone that clearly cannot handle a challenge.

The politics are frustrating beyond belief and the hypocrisy of theocratic representatives sometimes makes me want to use a statue of Brigham Young to pummel the state legislature to death, but Utah is a great state and it’s getting better. What we need are more open-minded people living in the state and fighting for common sense.

The majority of this state are sheep, but is that so different from the rest of the country? Put the pitchforks down and use your BRAINS to fight the evil you see.

Jackie says:

welcome home jackie

A few baby waves building up to a Class ‘3’s and some solid group paddle practice under our belts, we were ready for the Big One – we hoped! We could injection molding hear the roar of the waterfall in the distance as the raft glided closer to the edge. But before anyone started panicking, our guide stopped the boat a safe distance away for a pep talk. “Now, there’s a camera scaffolding rigged to the trees to take your picture, so make sure you smile on your way down,” she prompted. Although grinning for a group photo was the last thing on our minds, it lightened the mood and loosened everyone up for the dramatic descent. Also, the group before us had made the fall without capsizing, so now the competition was brewing. Make it over in one piece or risk being added to the River Rats Hall of Shame! Not these Lost Girls! Ready, set, paddle. We propelled our raft forward as fast as we could and as soon as our guide yelled, “Drop”, we hit the bottom of the boat and braced ourselves for the 7 meter plummet. As we sailed off the edge, white water roaring below, it felt like more like we were flying in a weird rubber plane and that we’d keep going China printing forever. That is, until we crashed back into the rapids. But wait, we were still right side up. We’d made it down alive and even had time to flash a quick grin to the camera before it went off. Are we rock stars or what?

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