As the Utah Independence Caucus searches for a candidate to endorse in the Utah Senate race the group’s focus is to unseat incumbent Bob Bennett. The “I-Caucus” says it has done a great deal of research on congressmen and the earmarking process and how lobbyists influence lawmakers. “As a result,” said Michelle King of the Cache County I-Caucus group, “our elected officials tend to vote in line with the lobbyists, more so than in line with the people. “People were overwhelmingly calling their congressmen to tell them not to vote for the bailout, don’t do it. In some offices calls were one hundred to one and in others a thousand to one against the bailout. And yet, Senator Bennett and many other congressmen voted for the TARP bailout. “If you look at their record of campaign donations you’ll see that lawmakers like Senator Bennett got a great deal of money in campaign donations from those who received TARP bailouts. About 30 companies received 95 percent of the bailout money and those companies have funded the majority of the re-election campaigns for the congressmen who voted for that bailout. “Senator Bennett is one of those and his record does show that.” King, Cache County Director for the Independence Caucus, said her group is working to get someone in office who is part of the solution, not part of the problem. To qualify for I-Caucus endorsement candidates were asked to respond to an 80-question survey. Senator Bennett and Democrat Sam Granato did not participate. Among those who did, top scores went to Mike Lee (58.9 percent) and Tim Bridgewater (41.1 percent). The I-Caucus required a 70 percent consensus for endorsement. “That was not reached,” said King. “So our official position is that each of those contenders who were vetted – Lee, Bridgewater and Cherilyn Eagar – would be a good choice.” The next I-Caucus vote for endorsement will be the week after the Utah Republican Convention. Until then the group said all of its communications, videos and efforts will be geared toward educating Utahns about why they believe Senator Bennett must be defeated in 2010. Thursday, March 11, the Cache County Independence group will host the “Bend It Like Bennett” video series at the North Logan Library at 7 p.m. King said the meeting will include training about local caucus meetings.
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