Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, tweeted today that he was meeting with a "Urq4AG exploratory committee," then continued the ploy by tweeting "am I tweeting this stuff out loud?" Attorney General Mark Shurtleff accidentally announced his Senate candidacy via twitter in 2009.
It's the continuation of a spat that began years ago when Urquhart, an attorney, complained to federal officials that Shurtleff's campaign donations gave the impression that donors could buy "fire insurance" from being prosecuted by Shurtleff's office. Those donations have been revealed and explored more by City Weekly's Eric S. Petersen than anyone (here's a good place to start).
The spat reignited this week when Urquhart made a proposal to make the Attorney General's position an appointed job, rather than subject to an election. Shurtleff has claimed Urquhart's proposal is "personal"--the two don't get along--and says Urquhart has designs on the AG position. Which lead this this--possibly ridiculous on two counts, but nevertheless--titillating claim published in the St. George Spectrum today:
"We know he has an interest in this job," Shurtleff said, adding Urquhart's only hope would be through an appointment. "I think he can't get elected statewide."
Urquhart told the Spectrum he has no interest in running for AG.
So that was in the backdrop this afternoon as Urquhart curiously tweeted about meeting an "Urq4AG exploratory committee" at Chuck-a-Rama. "Found Urq4AG exploratory cmtee in corner at Chuck-a-Rama! Big group! #Urq4AG," he tweeted.
A giggle came after Rep. Holly "on the Hill" Richardson, R-Pleasant Grove, called Urq's bluff, asking him via Twitter to send a picture of the alleged committee. Soon after, Urquhart replied, "Oops. Turns out they're just here for the Sr. discount. Double awkward! #Urq4AG." And soon after that, "Uh, @HollyontheHill, am I tweeting this stuff out loud? #Urq4AG."
The last bit is an unmistakable reference to Shurtleff's 2009 blunder when he mistakenly published information via Twitter about his upcoming Senate campaign that was not scheduled to be announced for more than a week.
Just in case there was any confusion, Urquhart tells me he's "just fooling around" with the exploratory committee tweets and that he has "zero desire" to run for Attorney General. "[Shurtleff] is lashing out with a lot of stuff, so I'm having a little fun," Urquhart says, again emphasizing that his proposal for an appointed AG is not personal to Shurtleff.
This is almost as much fun as watching frat boys smack each other with rolled up gym towels. Almost.
Not that you would ask me, but if you did ask me, Urquhart has it all wrong. The problem is not that the AG is directly elected by the people; the problem is campaign contributions! Isn't this obvious? Virtually all Democrats, independents--and many Republicans, too--believes that the moneyed interests that have bought off our our elected officials and perverted democracy are hurting our country and they want real campaign finance reform. Urquhart: you're a smart guy. Fight the real enemy.