Thrill seekers—people who enjoy high risk activities—have something new to try. Forget about hang gliding, bungee jumping or rock climbing. The new Utah sport that causes participants’ stomachs to churn and their hearts to race with fear is being a political majority leader.
The initial credit for creating this new adrenaline pumping adventure went to former Senate Majority Leader Sheldon Killpack, who was arrested in January for being suspected of driving under the influence. He resigned shortly after.
Now it turns out that the original inventor might actually have been House Majority Leader Kevin Garn, who this month admitted to a nude hot tub romp with an underage girl 25 years ago. He resigned two days after he acknowledged his adventure.
Many would expect these types of incidents from leaders of Utah’s minority party. After all, a former U.S. president from that party once said “I did not have sex with that woman,” even though he later admitted to numerous acts of sordid physical gratification that he said did not constitute actual sex.
But these men were stalwart Utah Republicans!
I jest. Everyone knows that even members of the GOP are susceptible to inebriation and/or hanky panky.
One at least should admire these men for having the fortitude to willingly come forward and admit their indiscretions. Killpack confessed shortly after his arrest become public. And Garn announced his mistake once it became clear that the young lady involved was not going to honor her pledge of silence even after a payment of $150,000 in hush money.
As an ordinary Utah citizen and voter, that is the aspect I find most troubling. Everyone makes mistakes. It would be easier to forgive and praise these men for their integrity if they came forward on their own and said, “I have a personal problem and I am no longer fit to serve in the public office with which I have been entrusted.” Lacking that much moral fiber, they could have at lease chosen to remove themselves from scrutiny by choosing not to run for re-election.
Instead, these men were willing to persist with their deception and only admitted their guilt once it was no longer possible to hide it.
In the case of Garn, he said there was no physical contact during the incident. The woman involved claimed otherwise. From a personal perspective, it is difficult to believe that Garn would be willing to try to buy a woman’s silence for $150,000 if he never touched her.
Of course these men are merely following the examples set by leaders on the national stage. Men like Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Richard Nixon and others have set a high standard of impropriety. It is hardly surprising that ordinary people have little respect for those we have elected to represent our interests and values.
I adhere to a naive hope that at the state and local level, elected officials are not as corrupt nor as self-serving as those in Washington D.C. Yet it seems there is always someone ready to prove me wrong and to leave me wondering: what are the rest of these clowns hiding?