Former GOP candidates Morgan Philpot and Joe Fabiano are taking their Tea Party-OCD-fastidiousness-to-principle and applying it to a soon-to-be-launched online publication offering Utahns a look at Congress’ sloppy, sausage-grinding machine.
Morgan Philpot, who was defeated in state convention by Governor Gary Herbert, has teamed up with “Uncle” Joe Fabiano, who also lost his nomination for the First Congressional District race, for a venture they hope will be a kind of watchdog publication providing easy-to-understand information about congressional voting and actions that show if those in Congress are really matching their rhetoric with the reality of how they legislate in D.C.
“What I’ve seen here in my 12 years of Utah politics is that, often, the average person wants to hear a [candidate] that speaks like they do,” Philpot says. If the candidate rattles off the right talking points in just the right way, the voter feels assured, Philpot says, but then the candidate goes to Washington. “When a politician goes back to Washington, D.C., we think they’re going to make a difference and then they don’t make difference at all,” Philpot says, arguing that both parties just provide cover for their members to continue blaming the other side for the nation’s problems. He says the Capitol Hill culture is one that favors shortchanging constituents when it comes to the compromises of the voting system.
He points out, for example, that while a number of conservatives vocally opposed student-loan subsidies, not one member of the house voted against House Resolution 6064, a resolution that, in early July, helped extend subsidies for student loans an extra week before the issue was addressed in another bill. Philpot considers the vote -- or lack thereof -- a bit of congressional sleight of hand since the subsidy extension was put in a resolution for highway funding and that the Speaker of the House declared there was no opposition so the issue passed without any roll-call vote.
Even with that fight essentially being shelved for another day, Philpot says conservatives in the House including -- Utah’s delegation -- still could have fought against the extra week of funding and had their names officially registered in opposition to the move. Philpot says much of congressional voting records, if put under close inspection, would show politicians votes not matching up with their campaign talk and that D.C. delegates stray from principle more often than not in favor of playing nice.
“There is a desire on the part of some politicians to not be ridiculed by their colleagues,” for taking a principled stand, Philpot says, the kind of move that can make staunch legislators unpopular figures on the Hill. “Well, we didn’t send you back there to have fun,” Philpot says. “We didn’t send you there to be popular. So, let’s start to really analyze what’s going on so we [voters] don’t have to accept that game and not be satisfied merely by words while the country goes down the toilet.”
Fabiano says the publication’s research wouldn’t just be of a conservative fiscal bent, either. He says the publication would hope to drill down on massive bills that in the past have often been legislated in a hurried fashion, like the Bush-era PATRIOT Act passed in the wake of 9/11 that gave law enforcement greater access to personal data of U.S. citizens. “They passed something like the PATRIOT Act and dressed it up as something really good for the country, but what happened is we lost our personal rights and it’s absolutely horrendous,” Fabiano says. “But what can people do if they aren’t informed?”
So far, the men see the publication, which they expect to launch next week, as being a for-profit enterprise that will start out as a free e-mail newsletter. They hope the online publication will expand to include political analysis articles and will grow to have free resources, as well as other research and articles available only to paid subscribers.
Philpot and Fabiano both see the publication as a resource for all voters, no matter their political stripe, to, hopefully, be able to understand the mechanics of Congressional lawmaking that can help voters understand how the legislating happens and also to put politicians on notice that what happens in D.C. doesn’t stay in D.C. “[Voters] need to have good information, they need to have straight information,” Fabiano says. “Because the way [Congress] does things is such a dang mess it’s unbelievable.”