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“FRAUD”: Utah Democratic Party Distributes Flyers Critical of Republican Rep. Burgess Owens At His Town Hall

The Utah Democratic party distributed and posted flyers around Rep. Burgess Owens’, R-UT, town hall Tuesday night.
Sonja Hutson
The Utah Democratic party distributed and posted flyers around Rep. Burgess Owens’, R-UT, town hall Tuesday night.

“FRAUD,” “F.E.C. VIOLATION,” and “SCAM CHARITY” were printed on the outside of envelopes distributed by the Utah Democratic Party at a town hall in Eagle Mountain Tuesday night for Rep. Burgess Owens, R-UT.

The party is criticizing Owens for accepting a $2,000 campaign donation from Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-FL, who’s currently under investigation for sex trafficking. Democrats also wanted to draw attention to a nearly $4,000 fine that the Federal Election Commission imposed on Owens for failing to report last-minute contributions to his 2020 campaign.

Lastly, they criticized Owens for writing in a financial disclosure form that he would not accept any more money from the non-profit he started — Second Chance 4 Youth — — and then reporting that he’s still getting money from the organization for consulting.

According to forms filed in January 2020, Owens made $70,000 from SC4Y in 2019 as its CEO. He said then “all official affiliation/compensation will cease once elected Nov. 2020.”

Financial documents filed in August of this year show he made $19,250 in 2020 from his non-profit for consulting. Though, forms do not show the dates for those payments. In an email Friday, his campaign said he “has not earned any income from SC4Y since taking office” in January 2021.

“Are you still receiving payments from Second Chance for Youth and how do you justify lying either to the House of Representatives or your constituents,” Utah Democratic Party Communications Director Joshua Rush asked Owens during the town hall.

Owens said he’s still consulting with SC4Y “because it’s my dream,” and listed off projects the organization is working on, including a food truck. However, an investigation by the Salt Lake Tribune in September 2020 found $0 it raised went to incarcerated youth.

While Owens’ district director initially praised the party for voicing their opinions before the town hall started, Owens’ himself had a harsher response to Rush’s question during the event.

“This is where the problem lies. It's called disrespect,” Owens said. “And I'll tell you what's interesting. You can see why people don't really care about the truth, this is what happens?”

Owens declined to comment on the other items the Democrats brought up.

“Let’s talk about the district,” he said.

Rush said they brought these letters because they don’t think Owens is “qualified to represent us.”

“The hope is that folks will use these letters to ask informed questions about the congressman and who he's really looking to represent,” he said.

Draper resident Timothy Cruz, 37, thought the tactic wasn’t a good move. He threw out the flyer about a minute after it was handed to him.

“That's what our enemies want — they want us to go against each other,” Cruz said. “But what America needs is unity.”

Owens is eight months into his first term in Congress. He unseated Democrat Ben McAdams last year by 1%.

Updated: September 3, 2021 at 3:54 PM MDT

Clarification: This article has been updated to clarify when Rep. Owens received financial payments from his non-profit Second Chance 4 Youth.
Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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