Democratic Senate candidate Brian Moss says former champion heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali has too much influence over Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and that Hatch has too little influence over him.
Moss attacked Hatch for supposedly allowing Ali to too heavily influence Hatch's decision to support legislation that would allow people who are falsely prosecuted to sue the government for redress. Ali is seeking $50 million in damages for false prosecution on draft-dodging charges. Ali's conviction in 1967 on those charges was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971.Moss's press secretary, Shauna Bona, said Moss does not oppose the proposed legislation. But she said if Hatch were really concerned about federal spending, he would talk Ali into settling for a mere apology from the federal government instead of a $50 million apology.
Hatch's press secretary, Bud Scruggs, said that a press release issued by Moss on the issue was deceitful, however, because it made it sound as if its passage would guarantee Ali the $50 million he seeks.
"That would be decided in court," he said. "This bill would not appropriate one dime to anybody. It simply gives people who were wrongfully prosecuted the right to sue for redress. Moss was wrong on the facts again." Scruggs added that Hatch has decided to not pursue the legislation this year, but likely will again next year.
"Someone somewhere along the line needs to point out that not one of the press releases issued by Moss has been factual. He does whatever he has to to sneak into the newspapers. He must have borrowed the conscience of (State Democratic Chairman) Randy Horiuchi to make the statements he does.
"It shows mean-spiritedness, pettiness and deceit unworthy of someone seeking higher office, and he should stop it," Scruggs said.
Scruggs confirmed that Ali had talked to Hatch about the bill, but the senator would have supported it anyway. "He couldn't ask for redress for radiation victims in southern Utah on one hand, and oppose this bill on the other."
But Bona said Moss feels signs exist that Ali has too much influence over Hatch. "Ali got him to support a housing bill and to help a friend get a job in the Justice Department."
Moss, in the press release criticized by Scruggs, said, "Whenever Hatch votes against educating our children or feeding poor people, he claims his hard-line stance is necessary to keep the federal budget in line. Now he's helping Ali - a man who earned $72 million as a professional boxer - add $50 million in tax dollars to his personal coffers."
He added, "How can a wealthy man like Ali demand $50 million for a 21-year-old mistake when thousands of American children are homeless? And even worse, how can Orrin Hatch say yes to Ali's greed while saying no to food and education programs for Utah's disadvantaged citizens?"
Hatch has a close friendship with Ali that developed after the boxer asked for Hatch's assistance to help a friend obtain Senate confirmation for a Justice Department post. Hatch recently brought Ali to Utah and to the Republican National Convention in New Orleans to campaign for him.