OUT WEST ROUNDUP | Romney looks ahead after winning Senate nomination
Author: Associated Press - July 6, 2018 - Updated: July 26, 2018
Romney looks to November after landslide Utah primary win
SALT LAKE CITY — Mitt Romney looks like a shoo-in for a U.S. Senate seat from Utah after winning a landslide primary victory and toning down his criticism of Donald Trump, but first he’ll face a Democratic opponent with a distinctly different political outlook.
Jenny Wilson holds an elected office in the state’s biggest county, has a political pedigree as the daughter of a former mayor, and she worked with Romney at the 2002 Olympics.
But in a state where Republicans outnumber Democrats by 4 to 1 and Romney is a hugely popular figure, she’ll have an uphill climb in the race to replace long-serving Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Still, the Salt Lake County councilwoman is campaigning hard.
“We haven’t had as strong a voice running for the U.S. Senate as mine for decades,” she said last week. In questioning Romney’s shifting tone on Trump, she said, “I think the voters have to ask, ‘Which Mitt Romney are they getting?'”
Romney, for his part, has said he is a straight shooter who will continue to call out “significant” things Trump does that are racist, sexist or anti-immigrant. But Romney has significantly scaled back his rhetoric since blasting Trump as a “phony” and a “fraud” during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Romney, whose status as the first Mormon presidential nominee of a major political party gave him celebrity-like status in Utah, says his high political profile would help the state continue to punch above its weight in Washington D.C.
Wilson, 52, will be the underdog in deep-red Utah, which has not sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since Hatch defeated Sen. Frank Moss in 1976. She describes herself as socially progressive on issues like LGBT and abortion rights, but fiscally more conservative on issues like balancing the budget, something she sees as much harder under the GOP-backed federal tax overhaul.
Supreme Court to review Crow elk hunting rights
BILLINGS, Montona — The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review a case in which a Crow tribal member and former tribal game warden from Montana is asserting his right under a 150-year-old treaty with the U.S. government to hunt elk in the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming.
A ruling could resolve disagreements among lower courts with regard to tribal treaty rights, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote last month in recommending the high court take up the case.
“This case affects numerous other tribes, as no fewer than 19 federal treaties protect the ‘right to hunt on federal lands away from the respective reservations,'” attorneys for former game warden Clayvin Herrera noted asking the Supreme Court to decide the case.
Herrera is appealing his misdemeanor conviction for killing an elk in the forest in January 2014.
The case came to light when Herrera emailed Wyoming game warden Dustin Shorma in January 2014 to suggest they work together on poaching cases along the Montana-Wyoming border.
Shorma did some online research and discovered pictures of Herrera and others with bull elk that had been uploaded to a website. Shorma testified the photos were taken in January 2014 in Wyoming, where the elk hunting season was closed.
Shorma matched the pictures to the topography of a site in Wyoming near the Montana border, where he found the remains of three elk.
Herrera testified that he believed he was still on the reservation in Montana, where he was allowed to hunt in January, and that heavy snow prevented him from seeing any boundary markers.
On appeal, Herrera’s defense argues the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty between signed by the Crow Tribe and the U.S. government granted tribal members the right to hunt on unoccupied lands that the tribe had ceded to the United States through the treaty, including large portions of Wyoming and Montana.
A high court ruling could settle the issue and determine the definition of “unoccupied lands,” he said.
The court has recessed for the summer and will resume deliberations in October.
Oklahoma health official: Rules ready for medical marijuana
OKLAHOMA CITY — The head of Oklahoma’s health agency said last week there’s a framework in place to get the medical marijuana industry rolling in the state soon, despite concerns from Gov. Mary Fallin that a statewide vote “opens the door” for recreational use.
Oklahoma voters easily approved a state question allowing cannabis to be used as medicine in the traditionally conservative state. The measure says applications for a medical marijuana license must be available on the agency’s website within 30 days of the measure’s passage. A regulatory office to receive applications for medical marijuana licenses, recipients and dispensary growers must be operating within 60 days.
Interim Health Commissioner Tom Bates said the Oklahoma Department of Health has been developing proposed rules and regulations in case the medical marijuana program was approved by voters since he was named to the post on April 1. He said the agency is prepared “to implement a medical marijuana model as required by the state question.”
Voters came out in droves in Oklahoma to weigh in on the issue, which made it onto the ballot through a signature drive. The Oklahoma State Election Board says more votes were cast on the marijuana question than in the 2014 general election.
Candidate criticized for poster of Wonder Woman lassoing cop
LAWRENCE, Kansas — The Kansas Democratic Party is calling for its lone candidate for state attorney general to drop out of the race because of a poster in her law office showing the superhero Wonder Woman pulling a lasso around a police officer’s neck.
Lawrence attorney Sarah Swain apologized amid the resignation call from her party. The Kansas State Troopers Association and other police groups also criticized her, saying the poster promotes violence against police officers.
Swain said she had hung the poster in her law office for years and that it was not meant to encourage violence against law officers or anyone else.
“I understand that this picture has been misconstrued by many as advocating for violence against the police, and for that I apologize,” Swain said. “I am not anti-law enforcement. I am pro-truth. And I do not condone violence in any form.”
The state Democratic Party said the poster disqualifies Swain from becoming the state’s top law enforcement officer.
“We strongly condemn and reject any depiction of violence against law enforcement, including the image from Swain’s law firm,” the party said in a statement. “We did not recruit or encourage Swain to run for attorney general, nor have we had any contact with her since she filed.”
Swain said the poster shows Wonder Woman using her “lasso of truth” to force the truth from a police officer, which she said is a metaphor for cross-examination and a zealous defense.
Corruption charges filed against ex-New Mexico tax secretary
SANTA FE — The former head of New Mexico’s Taxation and Revenue Department was charged last week with embezzlement and multiple corruption and ethics violations in her role as cabinet secretary.
Demesia Padilla is charged with embezzlement of more than $20,000 and five counts of violating ethical principles of public service, state district court documents show.
State investigators raided tax department offices in 2016 while eyeing allegations by tax agency employees that Padilla gave preferential treatment to a former client of her accounting business. Padilla resigned as secretary shortly thereafter.
The state attorney general’s office alleges that Padilla advocated as tax secretary for abatement of a tax penalty against Harold’s Grading & Trucking — a client of the Padilla & Garcia accounting firm previously operated by Padilla and her husband.
The state also accuses Padilla of accessing tax records of former personal clients and current clients of her husband on numerous occasions.
Padilla’s attorney said he couldn’t comment on the charges.
The investigation of Padilla stems from complaints in 2015 to a fraud hotline at the state auditor’s office and letters from unidentified department employees.
The charges against Padilla follow a string of corruption scandals involving prominent New Mexico state officials.
New Mexico voters will decide in November whether to create an independent state ethics commission to review initial complaints against public officials.