Count My Vote Group Raises $540,000

The Count My Vote citizen petition initiative group has raised more than $540,000, a third of the cash leaders say is needed to get on the 2014 ballot a measure that would expand political party primaries in Utah.


Tuesday CMV had to file its latest Political Issue Committee (PIC) report with the Utah Elections Office.

You can read its latest report here. CMV provided UtahPolicy with contributions made after the cutoff date of Aug. 26, so the total is larger than one finds on the public filings of last year and on Tuesday.

As expected, CMV’s donation list is a Who’s Who of Utah business, civic and political institutions, both Republicans and Democrats.

(However, there are more known Republicans on the list, as the effort is being run by former GOP Gov. Mike Leavitt and a few of his top aides.)

Leavitt himself has donated $25,000, as has Rich McKeown. McKeown is chairman of CMV and often acts as spokesman. McKeown was Leavitt’s chief of staff during much of the former governor’s administration (1992-2003), and worked as a top aide to Leavitt when he served first as EPA administrator in the George W. Bush administration then as head of the huge federal department of Health and Human Services.

McKeown today is a top officer in Leavitt’s health care consulting firm, Leavitt Partners.

In a press release Tuesday McKeown said CMV leaders have concentrated on getting a small number of large donors. Now the group will try to fund raise from a broader number of supporters, and imagines more, smaller donations will start coming in.

Other CMV big-name financial supporters in the new report are:

— Gail Miller, $100,000. Miller is the widow of the late Larry H. Miller, owner of the Utah Jazz and dozens of car dealerships, movie theaters, the EnergySolutions Arena and other businesses.

Miller has just been named a co-chair of CMV.

— Dell Loy Hansen, $35,000. Hansen is the owner of the Real Salt Lake professional soccer team and is a local developer.

— Dinesh Patel, $25,000. Patel is leader of the high-tech USTAR, the state-aided private business spinoff/financing operation.

— Lunt Capitol Management, $10,000. John Lunt is a successful investor/consultant and a top aide to former U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett.

Bennett was driven from office in the 2010 state GOP convention, a move by the conservative/Tea Party delegates that was disfavored by a majority of Utahns, including Republican rank-and-file, later polls found.

The voting out of office of Bennett is seen as one instigating factor in the CMV effort.

— Bruce Bastian, $10,000. A Democrat, Bastian is a supporter of gay rights and other liberal issues.

— Gary Crocker, $25,000. Crocker is a health care product investor, starting a number of local firms.

— Merit Medical, $25,000. This is Fred Lampropoulos’ medical equipment firm. Lampropoulos ran for governor as a Republican in 2004, is a former sponsor of UtahPolicy, and a leading Republican in Utah.

— Mark Miller, $25,000. A local car dealer, not a member of the Larry/Gail Miller family.

— Kem Gardner, $25,000. Gardner is a Democrat, although a conservative one. A local developer and long-time friend of Leavitt.

— John Price, $25,000. Price is a wealthy mall developer, former Utah State GOP national committeeman and ambassador in the George W. Bush administration.

— H. Roger Boyer, $25,000. A Republican developer, former partner with Gardner.

MacCall Management, $25,000, owners of the Crystal Inns in Utah and other western states. Chuck Maggelet is president.

— Garff Enterprises, $25,000. Garff owns a number of car dealerships in Utah. Robert Garff is a former GOP speaker of the Utah House.

— Brent Beesley, $25,000. Beesley is chairman and CEO of Heritage Bank in St. George.

— Khosrow Semnani, $10,000. Semnani is the former owner of Envirocare (now EnergySolutions), a hazardous waste disposal firm located in Utah’s west desert.

— Omar Kader, $10,000. Kader is a well-known Washington, D.C., lobbyist with Utah connections.

McKeown has told UtahPolicy previously that CMV wants to raise around $1.5 million. The money will be used to hire a professional political consulting firm that will organize the required petition signature drive.

Any group seeking to get their initiative on the 2014 general election ballot must get more than 101,000 signatures of registered Utah voters; with at least 10 percent of the voters registered in 26 of the 29 Utah state Senate districts.

Getting the 26 of 29 Senate districts’ numbers is actually harder to achieve than the overall 101,000 numbers.

CMV plans on paying at least some of their petition signature gatherers. They have until April 15, 2012 to turn in the required number of signatures.

The CMV funds will also be used in a public ad campaign next summer and fall to convince Utah voters to support the petition.

The petition is still to be drafted. CMV leaders have conducted a statewide poll in their attempt to find the best kind of approach in opening up the Republican and Democrat party candidate nomination system. (They declined to release the results of that poll.)

At first, CMV was fairly certain that it would seek an alternative route to the parties’ primary ballots. The idea was that if a candidate got 2 percent of the voters’ signatures in his or her district (or statewide in the case of governor, AG or U.S. senator), then the candidate went directly to the ballot, and bypassed the controversial caucus/convention nominating process.

Or, a candidate could still go through the caucus/convention system as is now the case.

But in recent months CMV toyed with other methods of opening up the ballot, including just having an open primary – all qualified candidates who filed for an office would go to their party’s primary ballot and there would be no need for any candidate to go through the caucus/convention system.

Utah Republican Party leaders have decided to run their own citizen initiative petition next year – and are calling it My Vote Counts – as an alternative to the CMV effort.

GOP leaders will try to shore up support for the current caucus/convention candidate nominating system.

Party leaders have not finalized their petition language, either.

But one idea is that only a GOP candidate who has gone through the C/C system can use the name “Republican” in their campaigns; only they can put the GOP elephant logo on their campaign material and only C/C candidates could appear under the Republican Party banner on any ballots.


(Editors note: LaVarr Webb, owner and publisher of UtahPolicy, sits on the CMV board and is a partner in the political/public relations consulting firm of Exoro. Exoro has been a paid consultant to the CMV PIC.)

Count My Vote Donors 9-3-13