The argument legislators are making isn't surprising, nor is it surprising that Rep. Craig Frank is the first to parrot it as insight into the initiative. When I was first handed a printed rendition of this same argument at the public hearing in Logan by Sen. Hillyard with the words CZAR! in caps and bold, I knew it was only a matter of time. Partake of the pretzel logic spewed forth:
“CZARS” Quoting from the Initiative: The Commission may”…do all things …which are necessary or convenient…” [36-27-201(7)] and “there shall be no judicial review or agency review of any commission action.” [36-27-501(2)] Once appointed, the Ethics Commission is not accountable to anyone, including the Courts, not the Attorney General [36-27-201(7)], not the Legislature [36-27-201(4)(b)], not the Judicial Branch [36-27-501(2)]. Members of the Commission are removable only upon death, voluntary resignation, or the end of their terms [36-27-201]. The Commissions budget cannot be cut [36-27-501(7)], and they may increase their agency staff at their discretion [36-27-501(7)(b)].
“SUPER CZARS” The sponsors of the Initiative attempt to give themselves lifetime privileges unavailable to other citizens, in violation of the Utah Constitution. Who are these SUPER CZARS? Chase W. Peterson, Carole E. Peterson, Jordan Tanner, Cassie Dippo, and Karl Snow. These five individuals give themselves, for the duration of their lives, the “…absolute unconditional right to intervene in any…litigation” on the constitutionality of this initiative [36-27-505(6)]. If legislative leadership fails to unanimously agree on Ethics Commission members, these five SUPER CZARSwill select the commision themselves [36-27-201(4)(a)].
So, in a nutshell: BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA!
The best you can say about this argument is that at least they are responding. The worst that can be said is that unfortunately the legislative body's response on this (assuming Frank is just first witless representative in what I predict will be a long line of legislators shouting CZAR!) is to hope you don't notice the blatant hypocrisy of the argument because the word CZAR! is in caps and bold.
The disdain for the intellect of voters inherent in this tactic should be reason enough for anyone to support an independent commission to tackle ethical issues.
Rep. Craig Frank thinks you're stupid enough to not see that. And he's only the first to say it out loud.