Situational awareness – May 14, 2018

Good Monday morning from Salt Lake City.

The LDS Church takes aim at medical marijuana. Mitt Romney’s defunct presidential campaign is sitting on illegal contributions, but they haven’t been ordered to get rid of the money. The U.S. opens a new embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.


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  • 15 days until the last day to register to vote by mail for the 2018 primary election (5/29/2018)
  • 16 days until the last day to change your party affiliation before the primary election (5/30/2018)
  • 22 days until primary election mail-in ballots are sent to voters (6/5/2018)
  • 29 days until in-person early primary voting begins (6/12/2018)
  • 36 days until the final day to register to vote online or in person before the primary election (6/19/2018)
  • 39 days until in-person early primary voting ends (6/22/2018)
  • 43 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 176 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 259 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 904 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)


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Marijuana opposition

On Friday, the LDS Church issued a legal analysis of the proposal to legalize medical cannabis in Utah. The memo raises several arguments about the proposal the Church says should give voters pause if the issue makes the ballot in November [Utah Policy].

Signature removal

Our “Political Insiders” say the process allowing Utahns to remove their names from ballot initiatives should be more difficult [Utah Policy].

Campaign cash

Mitt Romney’s now-defunct presidential campaign is sitting on more than $140,000 in illegal donations. The money has nothing to do with Romney’s current run for U.S. Senate. Most of the money has been distributed to Republican groups [Utah Policy].

Consumer prices

Consumer prices ticked up slightly in the West last month, mostly because of higher housing and gasoline costs [Utah Policy].


  • Mitt Romney ripped the choice of evangelical leader Robert Jeffress to give a blessing at the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Romney says Jeffress is a religious bigot who has denigrated other religions, including Mormonism [NBC News].
  • Republican officials in San Juan County have kicked a Democratic candidate for county commission off the ballot because they say he is not a resident [Tribune (paywall)].
  • Rep. John Curtis says he is “hesitant” to join Rep. Mia Love in the effort to force a vote on several immigration measures [Deseret News].
  • You can now see how many bills lawmakers are working on for the next legislative session [Tribune (paywall)].
  • The Utah Elections Office is looking into why some members of the United Utah Party are reporting their voter registrations are being changed without their permission [Deseret News].


  • The U.S. cuts the ribbon on the new American Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday. The move has prompted protests and raised fears of violence in the region [New York Times].
  • Make China great again? President Trump pledges to save Chinese tech company ZTE from the effects of U.S. sanctions [Washington Post].
  • The White House communications team is furious about the leak of a staffer mocking Sen. John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis [Axios]. The White House has still not apologized for the remark [CNN].
  • A former National Security Council official explored ways to crack down on leaks coming from the White House by spying on his colleague’s telephone calls [Daily Beast].
  • President Donald Trump and Fox News host Sean Hannity speak via telephone most weeknights before Trump heads to bed for the evening [New York Magazine].
  • The Supreme Court will soon start issuing rulings on some contentious issues including partisan gerrymandering, religious freedom, and President Trump’s travel ban [The Hill].
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is entering its second year this week [Washington Post].
  • Republicans in Congress are scrambling to find the votes for a controversial farm bill which imposes work requirements for food stamp recipients [The Hill].
  • The Education Department is mothballing a special team to investigate fraud at for-profit colleges [New York Times].
  • Democrats hope to make their support for popular net neutrality rules a big campaign issue in November’s midterms [The Hill].
  • Gasoline prices could spike to a 4-year high this summer due to record demand [CNBC].


  • 1607 – Jamestown, Virginia is settled as an English colony.
  • 1787 – In Philadelphia, delegates convene a Constitutional Convention to write a new Constitution for the United States; George Washington presides.
  • 1796 – Edward Jenner administers the first smallpox inoculation.
  • 1800 – The process of moving the U.S. capital from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.
  • 1804 – The Lewis and Clark Expedition departs from Camp Dubois.
  • 1878 – The last witchcraft trial held in the United States begins in Salem, Massachusetts, after Lucretia Brown accused Daniel Spofford of attempting to harm her through his mental powers.
  • 1848 – Israel is declared to be an independent state, and a provisional government is established. Immediately after the decision, Israel is attacked by the neighboring Arab states, triggering the 1984 Arab-Israeli War.
  • 1973 – Skylab, the United States’ first space station, is launched.