Even though the ethics complaint against Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, has been dismissed by the U.S. House Ethics Committee, neither Owens nor the man who brought the complaint against him, GOP state chairman Craig Moody, is satisfied.
The committee notified Owens and Moody Thursday afternoon that because of technical irregularities in Moody's complaint and too little time to consider the allegations before Congress adjourns in mid-October, the complaint has been dismissed.Owens said he is pleased, but added he's disappointed that the committee didn't look at the merits of the allegations and refute them, as he is sure it would have.
Moody said the allegations that Owens improperly used the aid of a UP&L lobbyist in writing his CUP funding bill still hold water. Moody said he'll meet with his party's attorneys to decide if the complaint will be refiled next year.
Owens holds a healthy lead over Republican Richard Snelgrove in the 2nd Congressional District race, and Owens has said all along that Moody filed the charges just to help Snelgrove's candidacy.
Owens said, "The complaint alleged only that I used a private lobbyist to help write the funding bill for the Central Utah Project. It did not suggest that I was used by the lobbyist or that anyone was damaged by such `use.' It was a politically motivated, insubstantive and strange charge, and no one took it seriously, including the five Republican congressmen whom (Moody) requested to file it for him, and the six Republicans on the Ethics Committee. This is the thinnest attempted smear in the history of Utah politics."
Owens added, "Mr. Moody got his publicity, but it was a mean-spirited act of political desperation that could only harm me if nobody read beyond the headline raised by the complaint."
Owens said Moody tried a similar tactic as used in 1950 by Sen. Claude Pepper's opponent, who told uneducated audiences in Florida that Pepper "was a known thespian who practiced nepotism in Washington and openly matriculated on the campus of the University of Florida with his own sister-in-law."
"(Moody) grossly underestimates the intelligence and alertness of Salt Lake County voters, and it won't work," Owens said.
Moody said he won't apologize to Owens or anyone else for filing the charges, as Democratic state chairman Randy Horiuchi wants him to.
The fact that the committee could look into the charges next year "indicates to me that the committee considers these charges very serious," Moody said. In fact, Moody suggested that Owens himself ask the committee next year to look into the matter. "If he really has nothing to hide, he'd do it," said Moody.
"I won't do his work for him," said Owens. "Many Republicans in Utah were embarrassed by this frivolous attack. If Moody files it again, I'll ask the committee to thoroughly investigate, as I did this time."