Depositors of the failed thrifts have been summoned to join forces and make themselves known at next week's mass meetings.
In a four-page newsletter issued by Depositors of Insured Thrifts, account holders were given step-by-step instructions on how to elect delegates for upcoming county and state conventions."Don't be fooled by some political hack telling you that a person who has served in party offices in the past should be named to the delegate positions," the newsletter said.
The depositor group's political consultants also warn depositors against delegates being chosen because they are voting district chairmen, elected officials or hosts of the mass meeting.
"Don't be afraid to derail end runs by challenging questionable procedures and asking that the issue be put to a vote of all those present," the letter said. "This is democracy in action."
In addition to their plan on the political front, the depositor's organization is pursuing a class-action lawsuit against the state and a host of downtown businesses and individuals, alleging racketeering and fraud in the collapse of Utah's privately insured thrift industry.
The organization hopes to recover an estimated $75 million in deposits, yet to be reimbursed to about 15,000 depositors since state officials placed five failed thrifts in liquidation last year.
The state has so far fought the lawsuit, but lawmakers overwhelmingly passed legislation during the last session to create a task force to investigate the problem and recommend an out-of-court solution.
The depositor organization has taken credit for pushing that piece of legislation through, and its recent newsletter praises depositors for their lobbying efforts and urges them to get involved in the political process during this election year.
For its mass-meeting strategy, the organization will focus on districts where more than one candidate is vying for a state House or Senate seat with special emphasis placed on Republican Party races and elect delegates supporting the candidate who endorses a plan reimbursing depositors 100 percent.
The newsletter, published before former Republican gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman pulled out of an intraparty race against Gov. Norm Bangerter, said Democratic candidate Ted Wilson favors "a 100 percent solution for thrift depositors."
Wilson told the Deseret News he simply supports "the state meeting its responsibility to depositors."
"Therefore, to have maximum clout, depositors should attend the Republican mass meetings on April 25," DOIT said, emphasizing that depositors don't have to be Republicans to meet with party members.
"We had a lot more impetus toward Republicans when Huntsman was in, and his pulling out diminished that," the organization's political consultant David Irvine said. "It's not so much a Republican proposition now, but we still want to focus on them because of their majorities in the House."
Irvine said he hasn't counted how many candidates are running specifically for the thrift depositors' cause or if plans are in store to make the thrift issue part of either party's platform.
But Republican Party Chairman Craig Moody said he has counted four thrift sympathizers out of the 20 GOP candidates vying for office this year and there are no plans for making the issue part of the GOP platform.
He said lawmakers hope to have the problem resolved this summer.
That optimism is based on the outcome by July 1 of the legislative-mandated task force, which has yet to be impaneled.