Lawrence Rey Topham has announced that he's running for governor next year and his campaign issue with be the same as his 1990 2nd Congressional District race - that Gov. Norm Bangerter and many Utah House and Senate members failed to file their official oaths of office in a timely manner, and, thus, there is and has been no legal Utah state government.
Topham, who doesn't believe paper money is legal tender, said he doesn't know whether he'll run as a true independent or as a candidate in the Independent Party of Utah.Topham was the lone candidate who filed in 1990 as the Independent Party's 2nd District candidate, and thus was the new party's congressional candidate. But party chairman Merrill Cook and the central committee didn't want Topham running in their party. Although they couldn't get him off the ballot, they did repudiate his candidacy.
Topham received just 3,421 votes in 1990, just 2 percent of the 2nd District vote.
The Utah Constitution does require that oath-of-office certificates be filed within a certain time. In years past, Gov. Norm Bangerter and other state elected officials failed to file the oaths on time, although they were filed later when the oversight was brought to their attention.
Topham argues that failure to file the oaths means, as the law said, that the offices are vacant. Thus, Bangerter has been serving illegally for several years, all the judges he's appointed serve illegally, and all the laws passed by the Legislature (in which many lawmakers also didn't file their oaths on time), are illegal, he says.
Topham has tried to sue in the courts, but federal courts and the Utah Supreme Court have refused to hear the issue. Topham said that Utah Chief Justice Gordon R. Hall participated in the problem because Hall, who administered the oaths of office to Bangerter and others, signed the oath-of-office certificates after the required deadline. "He sits on the court illegally. He was part of the conspiracy. How can he rule not to hear the case?" Topham asks.
Deputy Lt. Gov. David Hansen and Bangerter chief of staff Bud Scruggs say Topham's arguments are irrelevant. "Hundreds of people and the press were present when the governor and legislators took their oaths of office," said Scruggs. "We have the governor's oath on videotape, proving he took the oath."
Not good enough, said Topham. "The constitutional law was broken. The offices are vacant." He said there has been no legal Utah Senate for 16 years, three members of the state Supreme Court sit illegally, as do the governor, attorney general, auditor and treasurer.
Even though they disagree with Topham's assessment of the problem, legislators were careful to fill out and sign their oath-of-office certificates at the first of the 1991 session this year.
Topham's gubernatorial campaign now goes a step further. A Howard L. Childs has refused to pay his income taxes, in part because he also doesn't believe in paper money - only gold and silver money - and so contends he can't say for sure what his income is worth.
Topham said Childs was arrested and put in jail for two months until he agreed to file a state income tax return. Childs filed it, Topham said, but refused to put down any income numbers, "because he can't say the value of his income." Now a new arrest warrant has been issued for Childs.
"This man may be put in jail for the rest of his life because he can't file an income tax form that is illegal - issued by a Tax Commission appointed by a governor who sits illegally in office, under laws passed by an illegal Legislature - and give figures he doesn't know. The people must know about this, that's one reason I'm running for governor."