Bob Bernick’s Notebook: Political Intrigue and Transparency

I was sitting at home the other day, waiting for the USA Women’s Soccer Team to play its semi-final World Cup match against Germany, when my home phone rang.

Being a bit bored, I answered it.

A nice woman said she was calling on behalf of Jonathan Johnson, “who is running for governor” next year.

Humm, I immediately thought.

I hadn’t heard Johnson was in the race yet – although anyone who is paying attention to Utah politics (and that is our job at knows he’s really, really, really thinking about it.

Johnson, a Republican, has hired well-known GOP campaign guru Dave Hansen, as an “advisor” on any future run for office – a hire current GOP Gov. Gary Herbert, who is seeking re-election in 2016, didn’t like at all, we’re told.

Anyway, the caller asked if I would consider voting for “someone new” next year for governor.

No slight to Herbert, but I needed to hear more from this woman, so I said: “Sure.”

Great, she said.

Johnson was organizing a meet and greet to discuss state issuesWednesday night in Sandy. Would I be interested in attending?

“No, sorry,” I said. I would be watching more soccer that night.

Would I like to meet Jonathan Johnson? She asked, to get to know him personally.

“I already have,” I said.

Really? She replied with some heightened interest.

“Yes,” I said. “He’s a nice guy.”

Which, in fact, he is.

But Johnson is more than that to UtahPolicy.

He is chairman of, one of UPDaily’s sponsors.

You see the ad/link on our homepage, right near the Zions Bank ad/link.

Now, UtahPolicy is a small operation owned and run by LaVarr Webb, a former mentor of mine at the Deseret News, and a long-time friend.

I know, I know.

It looks like UtahPolicy is a big operation, fancy website, a lot of political news and analysis and – this is really great for us – the only regular polling being done currently in the state of Utah — and done by legendary pollster Dan Jones, to boot.

But while we may look big, we’re really just lean and mean – making the most of our great talent and experience. (Yes, I said that – kind of self-promoting, isn’t it?)

In any case, should Johnson run for office in 2016, that, of course, would be a classic conflict of interest for us – since his is a sponsor of ours.

And we need all the sponsors we can get, and don’t want to lose

I can assure you, dear reader, that Webb is on top of this.

He sent out an email the other day telling us we play the whole Johnson/ thing above board – no special treatment.

So, there you have it.

Should Johnson run for office in 2016 don’t be reading anything dire in the UtahPolicy coverage of the governor’s race.

Don’t be paranoid.

(I know, it is very hard not to be paranoid if you are a candidate or staffer or supporter in a major race getting a lot of media coverage. But try, that’s all we can ask.)

And if you think UtahPolicy is being unfair to any candidate or cause, let us know.

Between Webb and I and UPD Managing Editor Bryan Schott, we have more than 100 years of journalism/political policy experience in Utah.

(Wow! I just figured that out, and it is kind of depressing.)

Even though we think we know what we’re doing, we can always do better.

So, keep reading and watching us.

We appreciate it.