Brad Last: The Face Behind the Mask.
New/Opinion By Ed Wallace / Publisher of UtahStandardNews.com / May 16, 2020
There have been a few times in my life when I’ve stood frozen while the synapses in my brain struggled to find the logic that connected with present reality. The last time was two years ago at the 2018 Washington County GOP Convention when I asked Brad Last (R-HD71): ”How do you identify politically?” With no hesitation and with conviction, he replied: “I’m a conservative.“
Anyone with a basic first-grade knowledge of political ideologies and a minimum awareness of Last’s effect on our state and economy will instantly understand how ludicrous his statement was. Those three words, even if I were ignorant of his record, told me everything I needed to know about his character and motivation while reminding me of Bill Clinton’s statement: “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
Candidates have a legal right to lie to voters just about as much as they want. There is no federal truth-in-advertising law that applies to statements or political ads, and the very few states that have tried such legislation have had little or no success. Most of our UTGOP representatives claim to be conservative because they know that their constituents are conservative.
Politicians know who they are and what their constituents want to believe. Most of them know they will never be elected if their true identity is revealed and they rarely campaign on their real intentions, like bringing high-level hazardous nuclear waste into Utah or sponsoring the largest tax increases our state has ever seen. The claim of being conservative is like raising a magic wand and casting a spell over the voters.
Politicians who mask their true identity arrogantly count on their constituents being ignorant. Unfortunately, many are. They don’t do their due diligence and vet their representatives by diving into their records. They rely on a news article or nicely coiffed hair. Some may even think that being a conservative means dressing in a modest manner or not watching “R” rated movies.
Common courtesy, or giving others the benefit of the doubt, are terms that often describe individuals who take what someone else says about themselves at face value. If Utahns are anything, we are courteous. We don’t know the other person very well and so we assume that the other person is telling the truth. Therefore, we extend to another person the benefit of the doubt by trusting and believing what they are representing to us. If anything, Utahns are trusting, especially when we share the same religion.
The entire UTGOP platform is based on “conservative” principles. Yet, many of our representatives pander to our perception of values but govern like a soft-socialist or, at best, a RINO (A Republican In Name Only). In essence, they’ve hijacked the word “conservative” and its definition. Brad Last is a textbook example of that. (Click here for a definition of conservative)
Brad Last is even more liberal than most of his fellow GOP representatives (see the Scorecards below). I have no problem with people being their word about who they are. I have many Democrat friends, some of them are very progressive and liberal, and they identify as such and are proud to be so. However, I have disdain for anyone who is misrepresenting their beliefs for the sole purpose of remaining in power. Let’s call it what it is… dishonesty and fraud.
When I broke from my stunned silence and processing my thoughts about his words: “I’m a conservative”, I told Mr. Last that I was going to expose him for who he is. He replied, “that sounds like a threat.”
“No”, I said… “that’s a promise. There’s a police officer over there watching our conservation. Shall we summon him over here and let him decide if I’m threatening you?” Silence.
Utah Grassroots has produced an annual report every year since 1993 that rates all of Utah’s lawmakers based on the guidelines of the Constitution of the nation and state. Brad Last’s 2020 scorecard is 45% with a lifetime rating of 49%. He isn’t even in the top 25. If he was a student in high school, that score would force our education system to hold him back from graduating for receiving a perpetual “F” for his knowledge and adherence to the Constitution, along with the entire Utah House which has a lifetime score of 45%.
Mr. Last’s lifetime score from the Libertas institute is just as dismal at 52%. Libertas chooses for its index the bills that directly relate to their mission to defend personal freedom, property rights, free markets, justice and due process, and limited and open government.” The following graph is from Libertas:
Utah’s American’s for Prosperity gave Last a “C” and ranked Last as 54th out of 71 Utah state representatives.
His LIFETIME average from the American Conservative Union Foundation of 59% with a rating of 53% for 2019. They rated the entire Utah House at 64%.
None of these scores back up Mr. Last’s claim that “I’m a conservative.” They are more in line with an “A” if he self-identified as a progressive Democrat.
Can you spell c-o-n-f-l-i-c-t o-f i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t?
Brad Last is on the state payroll as Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Development at Dixie State University in Saint George. He is the hired gun that gets their big projects funded by raising lots of money from wealthy people for the University.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME, he is also the head of the Utah Legislature’s Executive Appropriations Committee, which is the “last word” on how Utah state’s money will be spent. He is the most powerful man in the state when it comes to allocating our taxpayer dollars and managing the HYPER GROWTH of the $20BN+ state budget.
So, Brad Last is hired by DSU to get money and his job approval DEPENDS on bringing home big bucks for the university. The major way that he does that is to ensure that DSU gets GIANT ALLOCATIONS of TAXPAYER DOLLARS.
In 2019, Utah taxpayers put $198,620 into Mr. Last’s pocket. DSU paid him $142,111 plus $26,146 in benefits. The legislature then pays him another $30,363 in wages and benefits (Source: UtahOpenGov.com).
How does it make ethical sense to have someone hired on a HUGE state salary whose job description is to get more money for the University but who simultaneously is the HEAD of all the state’s Executive Appropriations… the one-man shop whose pencil can allocate tens of millions of dollars to the state institution who is paying him to do JUST THAT!!!!? Gimmeeee a Break!!!!!
DSU just happened to get another $50M+ allocation from the state last year for a project that DSU President Williams said they don’t even need. The university hasn’t even finished the gigantic building that Mr. Last got for them and now they are announcing everywhere about their new science building that he got this cycle.
I’m sure that DSU is very happy with his performance in keeping the money flowing to campus even when the state budget is so tight that they say they need to raise taxes on services everywhere.
How do DSU and the legislature possibly turn their heads and keep this all straight? This stinks to high heaven. If Mr. Last were a lawyer it would be called MALPRACTICE WITH AN ETHICAL CITATION, and he would likely lose his law license. If he were an accountant he’d face similar scrutiny. If it were in any other state that has strong ethical standards, there might be a criminal investigation and he would probably be forced from office by a public outcry and/or his party for violating the GOP platform.
This is a perfect example of why Utah is known among political insiders as being one of the most corrupt states in the country in addition to being the scam capital of the world. You can’t make this stuff up. The rampant corruption is beyond the comprehension of most Utahns because we don’t think bad of people, we assume the good in people, and we don’t look for faults.
With a combined salary of $198,620 a year, Brad Last has easily become a millionaire off the backs of his constituents and Utah taxpayers, many of who work 2-4 jobs just to come home broke and stuff what little cash they have left into their socks to take with them to their new home under the bridge.
Brad “TAKE THEIR LAST CENT” Last
There’s a reason why Last has earned the moniker: Brad “Take Their Last Cent” Last. He’s never met a tax increase he didn’t like and has been responsible for many of them. He not only increased taxes on everyone in Utah, but also annually, in perpetuity, thus enslaving our children and grandchildren for generations.
When Brad Last was voted into office 18 years ago, the 2002 FY budget was $7.2billion. Now, it is $18.5bil. The state’s blowing of taxpayer’s dollars has grown by over 257% without ANY resistance from him. To the contrary, he leads the charge to SPEND SPEND SPEND MORE MORE MORE!!! Brad Last has been one of the primary motivators of the gargantuan growth of our state bureaucracy and the annual expenditure of taxpayer dollars.
His 2018 bill HB293: Tax Rebalancing Revisions created “a massive property tax increase by freezing the basic tax rate that adjusts downward as property values increase. It also allowed select companies to choose a more simple tax formula. By 2022, it would balloon to over $125 million in added taxes per year. This would add to the $75 million property tax increase that was already passed in 2015. This tax increase is especially problematic since this year the state had a surplus of half a billion dollars.” – Libertas Institute
The bill was cobbled together in the final hours of the session while bypassing the “Truth in Taxation” hearings and was so large (2,821 lines) that few had time to read it. No one had time to study it. Governor Herbert called it a “win, win, win, win for everybody,”…. except the taxpayers.
His 2018 bill HB380 increases government spending by $10.2 million in 2019 and $2.9 million annually thereafter for the School Readiness Restricted Account.
Brad Last also voted for and supported the recent 4SB 2001 Tax Restructuring Revisions which caused such an uprising from Utah’s citizens that over 150,000 voters signed a referendum against the bill. That caused such panic among lawmakers that the Utah Legislature repealed the bill by passing HB185 Tax Restructuring Revisions – Repeal. Republican Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox expressed the arrogance of Utah’s representatives by stating: ”Since that law has been repealed, there is no longer an existing law to refer to the people, effectively making the referendum moot.”
Whose pocket is Brad Last in?
Between 2008 through April 2020, Brad Last has received $240,048 in contributions. ONLY 10, totaling $5,850 have come from within his district. Five of them were made by Evan Vickers (SD28) and Bulloch Drug (Vickers owns Bulloch Drug). Vickers is a piece of work and received the 2019 Holier Than Thou Award for calling constituents “cave dwellers” if they utter the word Constitution. Some of our legislators do this openly and laugh about it after we elect them to office.
The fact that virtually no one in his district has contributed to his campaigns is troubling. But the real concern is that about 96% comes from special interests. About 26% of that comes from outside Utah. One of the largest contributors is probably Mr. Last himself. The available records begin in 2008 and show a beginning campaign balance of $26,991.14. This is a raw data compilation of Last’s contributions and expenditures from 2008 through June, 2018. (Source: https://disclosures.utah.gov/)
This spreadsheet shows the same data separated and categorized by special interests. The following data is a summary of that sheet.
|Total Contributions Summary||Total Contributions|
|Out of State||49,800||Construction/RealEstate||32,100|
|Utah Private Contributors||7,750||Energy||23,400|
The following data shows contributions from HD71 and private individuals who represent special interests that have donated to keep Mr. Last in office including those connected to Dixie State University and other education entities that rely on him for subsidies.
|Summary of HD71 Contributions|
|10/10/2014||84720||Cedar City||Bulloch Drug||300|
|1/24/2020||84721||Cedar City||Panguitch Creek Inc||$1,000.00|
|6/18/2018||84721||Cedar City||Evan Vickers||$750.00|
|1/24/2020||84721||Cedar City||Evan Vickers||$500.00|
|10/3/2016||84721||Cedar City||Evan Vickers Campaign Fund||500|
|1/24/2020||84721||Cedar City||Evan Vickers Campaign Fund||$500.00|
|1/24/2020||84720||Cedar City||Bulloch Building, LLC||$2,000.00|
|10/23/2018||84062||Cedar Hills||UT Association of Nurse Anesthetists||$100.00|
|1/24/2020||84737||Hurricane||Steve Isom – loan officer at SBSU||$100.00|
|Summary of Private Contributions|
|6/18/2018||84010||Bountiful||Chet Loftis – Attorney||100|
|6/18/2018||84770||St George||Clark Benson DSU Development||100|
|1/23/2020||84010||Bountiful||Dan & Holly Bradshaw||300|
|6/18/2018||84604||Provo||Daniel Campbell – Utah State Board of Regents Chair||500|
|1/23/2020||84765||Santa Clara||David Clark – Dixie University Board of Trustees (Chair)||1,000|
|1/24/2020||84105||Salt Lake City||David Spatafore – Lobbyist at Capstone Strategies||300|
|10/1/2018||84025||Farmington||Gordon & Tonya Crabtree – CFO UofU Hospital||300|
|1/22/2020||84036||Kamas||Kaitlin Eskelson – President at Salt Palace Convention||500|
|6/18/2018||84067||Roy||Nolan Karras – Finance||500|
|6/18/2018||84645||Mona||Patrick Painter – Politican||100|
|1/18/2018||84054||North Salt Lake||Randy Shumway – University of Utah’s Board of Trustees||500|
|7/30/2013||84070||Sandy||Rob Jolley – Lobbyist||250|
|6/18/2018||84014||Centerville||Robert Marquardt – Business||500|
|6/18/2018||84054||North Salt Lake||Ron Jibson – Questar president & USU board of trustees||500|
|6/18/2018||84103||Salt Lake City||Scott Anderson – Zions Bank President||500|
|1/24/2020||84737||Hurricane||Steve Isom – loan officer at SBSU||100|
|4/23/2018||84121||Salt Lake City||Trevor Milton -Owns Nikola Motor||500|
|1/24/2020||84010||Bountiful||Val Oveson – Politican||250|
So, what does Mr. Last do with all that money? The following data shows some interesting expenditures including $6,231 to family members to put up campaign signs and $14,075 to gather signatures so he could force a primary. Most politicians have an army of grassroots volunteers who do things like canvassing and sign placement. Apparently, Brad Last feels that he doesn’t need or care or doesn’t have any local support and hired the professionals at Gathering, Inc to collect signatures for him.
|Summary of Pertinent Expenses|
|Campaign Coordination||Election Hive – To succeed, campaigns need thinkers”||$3,000.00|
|Campaign Coordination||Courtney Sinagra, Five County Association of Governments||$3,000.00|
|Campaign Donation||To 40 Politicans & Candidates||$29,000.00|
|Communication & Research||Dillon Hurt – PR & Outreach Coordinator at DSU||$3,300.00|
|Contribution & Donation||Various Charities & Causes||$24,773.10|
|Sign Placement/Removal||Jackson, Jeff & Lincoln Last||$6,231.00|
|Signatures||Gathering, Inc & Individuals 2018-$6,575 / 2020-$7,500||$14,075.00|
After 18 years of “representing” the residents of HD71, it’s time to thank Mr. Last for his “service” and send him packing to spend more time with his wonderful wife and family. It’s time for him to stand on his own two feet and prove his chops to DSU by raising money from the “fat cats” instead of the taxpayers of Utah.
It’s time to clean Utah’s swamp.
NOTE: Brad Last is being challenged by Willie Billings in a primary vote on June 30, 2020. When Last was informed that he was being challenged, he changed his campaign strategy to collecting signatures instead of going Utah’s traditional Caucus route where he knew he would lose among the more active, dedicated and informed delegate voters. He was right. The vote was Willie Billings – 56.25% against Brad Last – 43.75%. Since neither candidate reached the threshold of 60%, Last was able to force a primary thus insuring himself the last gasp. After 18 years, I think that Mr. Last would be relieved to NOT win again. You can watch Last & Billings debate live on the Leavitt Center Facebook page on Tuesday from 6-7:30 pm. For more info on Billings, you can follow this link:
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