The leader of the Salt Lake County Republican Party has made a grave mistake in calling a rally to protest findings that two West Valley police officers used deadly force without justification. Further, because SLCo Party Chair Chad Bennion is employed by the Fraternal Order of Police, he faces a conflict of interest which prevents him from commenting on the issue in his position as party chair without risk of violating his duty to the Republican Party. In order to avoid a conflict of interest and to satisfy his dual duties to the Republican Party and his employer, the Fraternal Order of Police, Bennion should consider stepping down as Chair of the SLCo Republican Party.
It’s one thing to oppose a position, or report, or policy. It’s another thing altogether to deride the person conveying that position with an ad hominem attack on that person’s ethnicity and upbringing.
And it’s another thing altogether when the person doing the critiquing has a vested interest in the outcome.
But that’s exactly what Chad Bennion, chair of the Salt Lake County Republican Party, is doing. As an administrative representative (not a lawyer) of a law firm employed by the Fraternal Order of Police (and listing Bennion on the Fraternal Order Executive Board page), Bennion has a vested interest in that which the Fraternal Order has a vested interest. With two members of the Fraternal Order under heat for the shooting death of a woman and their account of the shooting at odds with forensic evidence (not to mention the mishandling of evidence and possibly missing drugs and money from the two officers’ time on the now defunct West Valley Police narcotics unit), Bennion has used harsh and inappropriate language to attack Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill, including blaming Gill’s upbringing in India and calling the DA a “cop hater.”
Ouch. So much for avoiding ad hominem attacks or making the GOP more inclusive of other cultures. I guess we can all dismiss Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, because, you know, they’ve got Indian upbringing, as well.
To make it worse, Bennion has decided to make all of his comments not as an employee of the Fraternal Order, but as leader of the Salt Lake County GOP. It’s one thing represent his employer, but it’s another thing altogether to decide to use his political position to go to bat for his employer.
Last night Bennion sent out an email (see below) to the County Party’s list calling for an “Officer Support Rally” this afternoon at a time calculated to hit while Salt Lake County employees are leaving work. If I was a member of the Salt Lake County GOP (oh, wait! I am!), I would be more than a little disappointed that the person most responsible for leading out in helping Republicans win elections next year is wasting limited party capital, to say nothing of resources and time, to push a personal agenda espoused by his employer. There are many ways to get the GOP’s name out there, but this is a method that will only hurt the Republican brand.
If the officers are innocent of the charges against them, they have due process to appeal to. However, politicization of that process not only hinders a fair result and criticizes the results of the rule of law, but turns the public against all the good that the Republican Party does, inaccurately leading the public to believe that Bennion is supported in his quixotic quest for his employer.
By calling for this rally, Bennion is violating his duty to the Republican Party, and perhaps ought to give serious thought to stepping down so that he can pursue the interests of his employer without a conflict of interest that will weaken the Salt Lake County Republican Party.
[Thanks to all those on Twitter who provided the information about Bennion's employment. This means you, you, and you.]
- Salt Lake County leader calls D.A. Sim Gill cop hater (fox13now.com)
- Sim Gill v Chad Bennion (Fred Cox)
- Chad Bennion, Please Resign (Coolest Family Ever)
- SLCO Republicans Hosting Rally to Counter “Racist” Arguments (Utah Political Capital)
- Fraternal Order of Police Executive Board (FOP)
- Chad Bennion Resume (Indeed Resume)
- Gill and Bennion in the press: a study in restraint and the lack thereof (publiusonline.com)