Campaign Shenanigans in Davis County

Yet again the days and weeks have flown, and I’ve neglected my poor blog. Since I last posted, the election has of course been decided, and Rob Miller sadly lost his race for a seat at the County Commission. The Republican Party has a deathgrip on politics in Davis County, so he expected this going in. In spite of this, Rob fought hard and sacrificed a great deal to make his case and to build foundation for the future success of the Democratic Party in Davis County. To use a hackneyed Mormon expression, he understood that his real purpose was to plant seeds so that we might hopefully see better fruit in Davis County in the future.

When I agreed to help Rob with his campaign, I figured this would be a fairly mundane experience. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed meeting all sorts of movers and shakers in the Democratic Party and learning about the political process on a local level. But as this was a fairly low-level office to which Rob aspired, I assumed it would be rather uneventful. I was therefore rather surprised by the experience I had at the Bountiful “Meet the Candidates” event sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

Rob asked my wife and me to attend the small gathering in order to give him feedback on his presentation. After each of the four candidates for the Commission had introduced themselves and had begun responding to a question presented by the moderator, a person from the row before us handed me a hefty file folder which was being passed around the audience of perhaps twenty people. It was filled with legal and financial documents ascribed to Rob Miller: a few traffic violations, documents regarding his deceased father’s estate, the mortgage on his house, etc. There was nothing really damning, but I was still dumbfounded that such personal information was being passed around. I caught the eye of Richard Watson, the chairman of the Davis County Democratic Party, who viewed the files in stunned silence and confirmed our decision to hold the material for Rob. We were so perplexed by the whole affair that we neglected to pay any attention to Rob’s statements through the rest of the half-hour!

My wife and I waited at our seats after the speeches for Rob to mingle with the public before opening up this can of worms with him. While we waited, my wife pointed out a couple of people who seemed to be pacing anxiously, as if looking for something. Her suspicions were confirmed when one of the people, a heavy-set, balding man in his fifties confronted Richard about the files. As the man quickly became belligerent, Richard drew in Rob, and then motioned for me to join in. The man continued to insist we give him his folder. Rob deserved to know just what was being shared about him, and so I handed the folder to him. Hardly was the folder in Rob’s grasp before the other literally snatched it from him. With a few harsh words in parting, the man hastily exited.

Richard, Rob, and I were soon joined by Steve Olsen, the Democratic candidate challenging Rob Bishop (and based on the conversations I had with him, a terrific person). We were all rather bemused. Plainly somebody was trying to smear Rob’s character. You hear rumors about this sort of skullduggery in big national races. But in a race for Davis County Commission? In an uncompetitive race? In Mormon country? It seemed so preposterous to all of us.

My wife and I were actually rather tickled to have been present and involved in a political fiasco. We knew it would make for a fun story.

Rob is by his own admission not perfect. He copped to being caught speeding more than once. He admits he wasn’t a choir boy in his youth. But there was nothing in that folder which cast doubts on his ethical qualifications to serve as a county commissioner. It is doubtful that all of the documents even referred to him. “Robert Miller” is not exactly an unique handle, and it seems the culprit padded the folder with some other Robert Miller’s files.

There is nothing inherently wrong with putting a political candidate’s legal and financial history up to public scrutiny. Their fidelity in those matters can have direct implications on their service. But if there was any cause for concern in Rob’s history, why not air that concern through the press? Why not take responsibility for those concerns? Why be so craven as to sneak that information to the public? Was the perpetrator too much a coward to give Rob a chance to see and respond to those concerns? Why did this man not have the courage to give his name and take responsibility for his actions in sharing Rob’s personal information and that of his family?

I am deeply chagrined that such things actually occur. Politics should be about the exchange of ideas and challenging ideas, not such petty plotting. While I can’t deny that it added some excitement to our evening, I hope I see few Rovian-style ploys in the future.

One Response to “Campaign Shenanigans in Davis County”

  1. Lee Says:

    Welcome back! It was a real pleasure – though somewhat disconcerting – to read your latest, well written post. Rob Miller is a good man, and indeed brave knowing the “skullduggery” possible with an imperfect – dare I say, NORMAL? – life, and all that is possible. There is such a difference between having the knowledge of Rovarian-style politics and the wisdom to know the difference between what is possible and what is right to do in campaign politics. Too often these days – with the influence of some big names and obvious “successes” – many prefer to spiral into the decending funnel of tawdry and needless ‘realpolitic’. Thanks for your input. It was indeed a refreshing perspective. I’m sure the seeds were planted by Rob, you and others ….. and with all of the ‘fertilizer’ in Davis County, something’s gonna’ happen. It’s got to!

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