In order to assist incumbents who supported the ill-fated tax reform bill that it helped develop, the Utah [Big Business] Taxpayers Association has contacted Republican delegates in at least two Senate races (Fillmore/Cunningham and Weiler/Campbell).
The tax reform bill in question re-imposed the sales tax on food, added a new state sales tax to gasoline and taxed services provided by small businesses and individuals who lack political clout. It also left hundreds of millions of dollars in sales tax exemptions granted to Utah’s biggest businesses untouched.
Senator Lincoln Fillmore was a member of the task force that put the tax reform bill together. He voted for it during its final task force hearing and again on the floor of the senate. Over the years Fillmore has carried numerous bills on behalf of the [Big Business] Taxpayers Association.
After voting for the tax reform bill Senator Todd Weiler arguably became its chief defender in the media and especially on KSL radio while Marci Campbell defended the referendum and pointed out the flaws in the bill. Campbell also worked with Harmons and Associated Food Stores to make it possible for volunteers to collect signatures in their stores which ensured the success of the referendum.
Both Fillmore and Weiler were subsequently challenged by individuals who supported the referendum—Rich Cunningham and Marci Campbell. In both cases, just before the Republican delegates cast their votes at their respective conventions, the non-profit Utah [Big Business] Taxpayers Association rushed to the incumbents’ defense in order to preserve the inordinate influence that the state’s biggest businesses exercise in the legislature.
Parenthetically, this is the same [Big Business] Taxpayers Association that labeled citizens who supported the referendum as hysterical, misinformed dupes.
In Fillmore’s case, the [Big Business] Taxpayers Association sent a communication to Republican Party delegates that targeted Cunningham by fact checking his campaign literature. The Taxpayers Association wrote:
Thank you for serving as a delegate….Delegates should always be as well informed as possible about the various candidates that they will be voting on. With that in mind we wanted to bring to your attention some claims by a candidate in the race for State Senate in District 10 (South Jordan).
The [Big Business] Taxpayers Association failed to inform delegates of its relationship with Senator Fillmore nor did it fact check Fillmore’s campaign literature for the benefit of the delegates.
Fillmore defeated Cunningham in the convention; however, since Cunningham collected signatures he will be on the Republican primary election ballot.
In Weiler’s case, the [Big Business] Taxpayers Association apparently obtained the e-mail addresses of the state delegates for Senate District 23. It then sent out an e-mail supporting Weiler in order to defeat Campbell who is seen as a huge threat to those who place big business interests and the exponential growth of state spending ahead of the interests of average Utahns who pay the bulk of the taxes.
The Taxpayers wrote:
Thank you for being a delegate….Senator Weiler has been a key ally for the Utah Taxpayers Association in getting many important bills sponsored and passed.
If Weiler obtains 60% of the delegate vote at the state convention he becomes the party’s nominee because Campbell did not collect signatures. On the other hand, the best Campbell can hope for is to make it to the primary election since Weiler has collected signatures guaranteeing him a place on the primary ballot.
So, in order to maintain its influence and to ensure that the legislature continues to shift the tax burden from big businesses to average Utahns, the Utah [Big Business] Taxpayers Association is doing everything possible to defeat candidates who stood with the citizens of Utah and who helped make the referendum a success.