While hundreds of Democrats fussed and hundreds more Republicans chortled during their respective conventions in Salt Lake Saturday, about two dozen members of Utah's third party held what may have been the most lively meeting of all.
Gathered in the South Salt Lake auditorium, various members of the American Party stepped outside the parameters of their formal agenda to verbally joust over whether convention delegates could be legally required to pay a $5 filing fee. Before the hourlong debate was over, several first-time conventiongoers were calling for party unity, and two members of the small delegation left in apparent disgust.Larry Topham, a local who has his sights set on the governor's race, accused party leaders of breaking state election laws by requiring delegates to pay the fee. He further accused officials of breaking a beam in their own platform by asking for such a fee, and accepting "irredeemable paper currency" as payment.
Topham emphasized one of the party's goals - abolishing the Federal Reserve system - saying, "There are people in this room who won't use any paper money for any purpose. I haven't used paper currency for seven years, and the law says no state shall make anything but gold or silver coin for payment of debt. Now they're going to make me pay, using paper currency. But they can't impose these rules on us if we don't let them."
He said such measures were intended to keep him and delegates that favor him out of the convention, and accused the leadership of trying to keep people away from the meeting by locking the front door to the auditorium.
State party chairman Dave Wilson lambasted the suggestion that the door had been locked to keep people out, saying it was an unfortunate but simple mistake. Wilson also defended the filing fee as a means to offset the cost of holding the convention.
"Mr. Topham can read the law the way he wants to. But the American Party has always had a filing fee at the county, state and national levels . . . If this item had been put on the agenda, we could have discussed it and changed it if that was the feeling of the majority," Wilson said.
Several delegates tried to break the bickering between Topham and Wilson, asking repeatedly that all who wanted to be a delegates be allowed to do so whether or not they paid the fee. But those requests were repeatedly rebuffed because they didn't meet the formal rules of parliamentary procedure.
A motion was finally approved allowing all of the delegates a place at the state convention, but it didn't come until after speeches by several state legislative candidates helped clear the air between factions.
Candidates from the party are:
* Loren Hancock, House District 26. He said he "won't vote for any tax increase or to raise the wages legislators get. They're already getting as much or more than they are worth now."
* Teddy Ireland, House District 51. "My goal is to reduce taxes that are paying for excessive top administrative levels of government."
* Harold Christensen, House District 31. "Government is a farce. It should only make men just, not happy. Leave that to the church . . ." Wants to stop pornography, abolish the EPA, the BLM and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Referring to communists and their sympathizers - "If I ever got any power, I would line up every last one of them and ship them to the slave state of their choice."
* Judy Throckmorton, House District 42. "I don't want to raise taxes. I've seen a lot of waste in the administration of schools. I think more money should go to pay better teachers, and the administration ought to be cut."
* Wilson, a candidate in House District 46, used his time to call for party unity.