Alliance for a Better Utah has cut ties with a staffer following a controversial post on Twitter.
Rhett Wilkinson was tweeting about a House committee hearing on Rep. Jim Dunnigan’s HB437, which would expand medical coverage to about 16,000 needy Utahns. Wilkinson was comparing Dunnigan’s plan to full Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which would return hundreds of millions of dollars to Utah in taxes residents have already paid out. Dunnigan’s bill draws down far fewer federal dollars. Wilkinson posted a pair of tweets, seen below, suggesting the four no votes against the bill in committee were somehow motivated by racism.
Wilkinson quickly deleted the tweets, but screenshots of the messages subsequently made the rounds online.
ABU founder and board president Josh Kanter says even though the tweets came from Wilkinson’s personal account, they reflected poorly on his organization because he used ABU’s logo as his online avatar.
“His tone did not reflect ABU’s effort to speak with balance, even if it is his personal view,” said Kantner in a statement provided to UtahPolicy.com. “He is, of course, entitled to his opinion provided he does not express it as the view of our organization, which was the implication by associating it with our logo while he was working for us. I would hope that people who have watched our efforts over the past few years, even if they disagree with us, know us to be civil and balanced.”
Kantner says ABU parted ways with Wilkinson shortly after the social media posts. Wilkinson was hired by the organization to help out during the 2016 session.
[Editor’s note: Wilkinson authored some articles for UtahPolicy.com in 2013, but has not written for our organization in some time.]