Gayle Ruzicka is acquainted with the folks who ran that "America Forever" ad

This ad.

And if you're not acquainted with Gayle, please, please go read this.

I suspect Gayle also knows how and why it is that a fringe outfit like America Forever suddenly has the funds available to pay for full-page ads in the Utah press.

Meet Eagle Forum attorney, Matthew Hilton.

And say hello to America Forever attorney, Matthew F. Hilton.

Hilton was a one-time state coordinator for the Rutherford Institute and later Vice-Chairman of the Constitutional Law Committee of the Inter-American Bar Association.

As with the Prop 8 contest, no surprise to find Chalcedon Foundation types, like Hilton, operating behind the scenes. Also not surprising to find Hilton getting referrals from the Pacific Justice Institute. The same Pacific Justice Institute that compared Prop 8 opponents to Nazis.

And hey, today (Feb. 17) is Matthew Fenn Hilton's 55th birthday! Happy Birthday, Matt! I'd love to hear your thoughts on my speculation that somebody dusted off this "America Forever" group, gave them a quick injection of funds, and is now deploying them in a PR scheme designed to improve public perception of the Eagle Forum's anti-gay rhetoric by making it suddenly sound less extreme when compared to the undiluted hate speech coming from America Forever.

In the meantime, I'll be dropping related links below the video clips.

Fast forward to the 1:00 mark to catch a glimpse of the America Forever crew:

Skip to the 1:37 mark to see more of America Forever in action:

And they show up here around the 0:30 mark:

Beyond sharing attorneys, the minutes of Utah senate and house committee hearings place America Forever and Eagle Forum together in the room speaking for the same side. In some instances, these two groups were the only people in the room speaking for their side. These folks know each other very well:

And beyond the Matthew Hilton connection, and their shared appearances at state legislative committee hearings, America Forever and Eagle Forum share this tactic:
... neither [Gayle] nor the Eagle Forum register as lobbyists. Once in 1998, Eagle Forum attorney Matthew Hilton registered—once. The law requires registration not only if you disburse money, but if you intend to influence legislation. The lieutenant governor’s office, however, says they’d have to have a complaint to act.
It's déjà vu all over again:
The incorporation papers for [America Forever] have since lapsed. But that didn't stop the Rodrigues family from placing a full-page ad in both of Salt Lake City's daily newspapers Sunday -- price tag: about $15,000 ... America Forever asks for donations. And part of me hopes they get them. For one thing, it's illegal for a nonprofit whose many registrations with the State Department of Commerce have lapsed -- the last time in 2007 -- to take money and use it for political purposes.
If nobody's gonna complain, if Utah's Dept. of Commerce is not going to enforce its own rules, perhaps, at least, someone local might summon the temerity to ask Gayle to comment on America Forever and that ad of theirs, ask her how well she knows Sandra Rodrigues, ask her who first introduced her to Sandra, ask them if they're happy so far with the audience reaction to their latest bit of political kabuki.

Follow this story over the coming days. How many times do you think we'll see quotes from otherwise anti-gay Utah legislators denouncing America Forever? Plenty. They're going to be lining up to distance themselves in the press from America Forever. In fact, it's already begun. Here's one of them speaking to The Salt Lake Tribune:

"Herriman Republican Rep. Carl Wimmer blocked America Forever from bringing its posters to a rally last week. 'They make a lot of us look bad,' he says."

Nonsense, Carl. They make you look good. And you've had a hard time making yourself look good ever since Gov. Huntsman came out in favor of civil unions, haven't you?

But here's the deal: Right now is as good as it gets for you.

If you're Utah Eagle Forum, Gayle Ruzicka, Sutherland Institute, Jeff Reynolds, Paul Mero, or any of the other usual suspects, this latest report from KSL has got to have you worried for your jobs. Here's KSL (Mormon-owned KSL!), delivering the news about the latest KSL-commissioned polling:

47% of Utahns favor civil unions.

80% of Utahns approve of their civil-union approving governor.

Right now is as good as it gets ... for you. For the rest of us, it only gets better.

Except for America Forever. For them, things are going to get worse pretty quickly now.

It's time for all Utahns to remind their Department of Commerce Director Francine Giani that she's paid by your taxes to do her job, not ignore a crime to which we are now all witness: America Forever's ad broke Utah law.

Does the law matter in Utah? Or is it all just who you know?

I'm curious and I intend to email Francine Giani at and ask her to explain.

I'd suggest y'all do the same.

Paul Rolly, SL Trib columnist, weighs in about Giani:
When State Commerce Department Director Francine Giani was asked by The Salt Lake Tribune this week if she would do anything about the anti-gay group America Forever for spending and soliciting money even though its registration as a nonprofit had lapsed, she said she didn't want to ding the group, but would send it a "cordial" letter.

That sounds like a different Giani than the one who, as director of the Division of Consumer Services nine years ago, sent a threatening letter to then-Attorney General Jan Graham, who raised $4,000 for her "Beagle Forum" to counter the ultra-conservative Eagle Forum. Graham argued it was a political account and exempt from charitable organization rules, just like then-Gov. Mike Leavitt's political accounts (he was not hassled by Giani, who, by the way, had been the campaign manager of Graham's Republican opponent, Scott Burns).
Apparently, the only thing you're allowed to flaunt in Utah are the rules.


Kengo Biddles said...

Sadly, for now, it appears that most of the links below are just rehash.

And what scares me, being semi-closeted is that this sort of thing is going to bring out the crazy in my straight relatives, and I may just have to lay it all out to them to get them to shut up -- which isn't a bad thing, mind, but not how I'd want them to know.

I can just hope that they all get in car accidents with the snow today, right?

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