Utah's Treasurer Race: Who's Running the Dirtier Campaign?

Perhaps more important questions than "who are you going to vote for as Utah treasurer" are these:

(1) Have the latest allegations of impropriety against Walker affected your decision as to who to vote for on June 24th?
(2) Was Lt. Governor Herbert's decision--to delay his findings about the allegations until after the primary election--the correct one?

It's hard to say what actually happened in a recent meeting between Mark Walker and Richard Ellis, Republican candidates for Utah state treasurer. Ellis recently alleged that Walker offered to increase his salary by 53% if he dropped out of the race. Walker

It appears that Herbert has come to a conclusion on what happened. He should share it--before the primary election.

said he didn't.

That part doesn't bug me so much as this: Utah Lt. Governor Gary Herbert, whose job it is to investigate and report on such issues, has stated that he doesn't want to release his findings until after the primary. That could be bad for either Walker or Ellis--it's hard to say--but the implication is strong that Herbert has come to a conclusion on what happened. He should share it.

Yesterday in the mail I received a flyer from the Walker campaign that accused Ellis, on one side of the 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, of being the one who is actually running the dirty campaign. I fully expected to turn the sheet over and read a denial that Walker had offered Ellis a job. It wasn't there. Instead, there were a couple of short blurbs about how Ellis is opposed to tax cuts. Ellis is careful on his campaign blog to refute that allegation, which has been around for a couple of months now.

It's interesting to see who generally supports Mark Walker for treasurer--the big Republican guns in Utah. I think it would be better to see some everyday people, like your or me or a Zion's Bankcorp executive, vouch for Mark Walker's financial skills.

I often disagree with Bob Bernick of the Deseret News, but this time I think he's onto something in the case of Walker vs. Ellis:
A not-so-subtle message is being sent by GOP Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Republican legislative leaders these days: "We will be pushing the political/candidate agenda in this state, thank you very much."

This year, Shurtleff and GOP legislators back state Rep. Mark Walker, R-Sandy, to be the new state treasurer. At 32, Walker, a former Zions Bank midlevel manager, has limited experience in actually investing large sums of money. Treasurer Ed Alter, in office 28 years, is retiring. His chief deputy, Richard Ellis, who does have experience in big-money investing, thought he would just walk to the GOP nomination.

Ellis had been Huntsman's head budget writer and fought GOP legislative leaders over various tax plans/budget priorities on behalf of his boss over the last few years before taking the top assistant job with Alter. (Huntsman has declined to take sides in the GOP treasurer's race — a high-brow neutral position not shared by Shurtleff et al.)

Several times Huntsman recommended a lower tax cut while GOP legislators wanted bigger tax cuts. Ellis was often Huntsman's guy arguing against bigger tax cuts both publicly and especially behind the scenes with GOP legislative leaders.

You can't make a bigger mistake with these GOP lawmakers than to cross them on their proposed tax cuts.
I don't know, but I have a sneaking hunch that Walker offered Ellis a job. I wish Herbert would tell us before the primaries next week. But since he won't, I think I'll vote for the more qualified guy anyway.

And that would be Richard Ellis.


  1. I found Sen. Hillyard's take as to what possibly happened during the Walker/Ellis encounter very interesting and plausible (http://kvnuforthepeople.com/?p=2221). I also think it is very telling that most city & county Treasurer's back Ellis. The investigation should have been done before the primary election. And the position of State Treasurer should become an appointed position of the Governor Cabinet rather than be elected.

  2. Just came across this related article, FYI.

    P.S. Your comment section description says that you can click on an "Email follow-up comments..." checkbox, but the checkbox doesn't exist. :)

  3. Seems, from the article you link to, that Herbert jumped the gun just a bit. And it could only have been for one reason--to get a few more votes for Walker.

    Fortunately, at this point in the evening anyway, it looks like Ellis will win.

    Regarding the "Email follow-up comments": Thanks for letting me know. I changed the notice at the top of the comment window, because apparently only if you're signed in with a Google/Blogger account can you see the checkbox.


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