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Utah Democrats Respond To Republican Leaders' Letter To Trump

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams issued a citation Thursday conveying their gratitude—on behalf of the legislature—for President Donald Trump’s policies and actions during his first term in office.

House Minority Leader Brian King says the statement was put forth in response to U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney’s vote to convict the president of abuse of power during the Senate impeachment trial. King doesn’t believe Republican leadership intended to release a statement of support for Trump before that vote and says they were worried about retaliation from the president. 

“Because of that vote, and the president's response to Mitt Romney's vote, there was concern among people here at the legislature that maybe Utah would end up, in some way, in the gun sights of the president,” King said. 

Even more troubling, King says, is Wilson and Adams broke legislative rules to issue the citation. A citation is a message designed to thank someone—specifically, King says, Utah citizens. Additionally, King takes issue with the citation’s reference to the entire legislative body. He says Wilson can’t speak for the full House without consulting its representatives.

“That's not the way we do things," King said. "Especially, it's not appropriate for the citation to speak on behalf of all members of the legislature when there's a lot of stuff in that citation that the minority members of the legislature simply don't agree with.”

The letter to Trump thanked him for policies and actions Wilson and Adams believe benefit Utahns, including the 2017 federal tax cuts, the shrinking of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments and rollback of regulations. King says the tax cuts benefited the wealthy and didn’t help working Utahns. He also opposes the Trump administration’s loosening of fuel efficiency standards, due to the impact on Utah’s air quality. Overall, King says there was more to be concerned about than commend.

“The entire House of Representatives does not feel that the language of the citation is appropriate or accurate," King said. "Period. Full stop.”

As for potentially responding by crafting their own citation thanking Romney, King says while it would be more appropriate because Romney is a Utahn, citations are intended to be symbolic, non-political and non-controversial sentiments. King says issuing a citation for Romney wouldn’t fall into that category.

“What Mitt Romney did in voting to convict, I think we probably saw in that impeachment trial, is nevertheless seen by probably half of Utah as being the wrong thing to do," King said. "So, I don't know that we want to stir the pot on that anymore.”

In response to Democrats’ assertion the citation breaks legislative rules, Senate Communications Director Aundrea Peterson says the Senate does not have a requirement that a citation is reserved for Utahns.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.
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