Thursday, January 15, 2009

Voucher Advocates Attempt to Bribe Republican Lawmakers for Yes Vote

So what happens if you can’t convince the citizens of Utah that vouchers aren’t really as bad as people know they are? (Remember, the Utah Republican legislature passed a statewide voucher plan, only to be overturned by the citizens via referendum).

You simply bribe Republican lawmakers. There’s nothing morally or ethically wrong with that, is there? But that’s what happened and it appears the FBI might be looking into the allegations. The problem is all the offers were verbal, a he said she said situation, resulting in a dead end. You be the judge. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Two Republican lawmakers talked with FBI agents about bribery allegations in the Utah Legislature, although the FBI would not say Wednesday whether there is an ongoing investigation. Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, a former police officer, went to the FBI in 2007, telling them that school voucher supporters had offered to pay for his re-election bid if he would vote for their bill.

Judi Clark, executive director of Parents for Choice in Education, the pro-voucher organization that Ray said had approached him, said the group never made such an offer "nor did we even entertain that idea.

Ray told the Ethics Committee that a voucher lobbyist, whom he declined to name, had told Ray he could have his campaign expenses covered if he voted for vouchers. When he refused, Ray said, the voucher supporters offered $50,000 to anyone who would run against him. " I reported it and was basically told, 'Do you have any evidence?' and I told them 'no, I don't.' They said 'It's your word against their word,'" Ray said. "That was the only time I talked to them."

(In) another case involving Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, former Rep. Susan Lawrence, R-Holladay, told the committee she was … contacted by the FBI after news broke of her allegations against Hughes. She had alleged that Hughes offered her $50,000 if she would drop her opposition to a controversial push to provide state subsidies -- in the form of vouchers -- for private school students.

Of course, it could all be an innocent mix-up, a misunderstanding by the parties involved. Right?

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