Yesterday, the Salt Lake Tribune ran a story that I’ve already responded to directly. However, in preparation for that story the reporter, Tom Harvey, had asked me several questions. He spent the better part of 24 hours pushing hard to get my answers. After some consideration I decided to answer in the hope that fair-minded readers would see that there was more substance behind the sensationalism of Mr. Harvey’s allegations. Perhaps not surprisingly, Mr. Harvey ignored virtually all of my answers. For the benefit of those who are interested in more detail, below are his questions and my answers.
Question: It’s seems unusual that you would run for public office when your husband is under federal indictment in a highly publicized case. Why are you running, given the charges?
I’m running on my own merits on the issues I see important. I would ask that you respect that distinction. I am the granddaughter of Cleon Skousen and have lived my life based on principles of liberty and freedom. It is not unusual at all that I want to be involved, want to serve my community and want to make a difference. That is what I bring to my campaign for public office. Part of what motivates me is that I want to make a difference standing up against government corruption.
I support and believe in my husband’s defense. The law and Constitution mandate that he be presumed innocent until proven guilty. His defense is consistent with the larger principles of my campaign, but please recognize that my campaign is about issues much larger than his case and his fight with certain government bureaucracies.
Question: What is the role of Rick in your campaign?
Rick is my husband. We share ideas. We are both very politically active. He helps where I ask. Other than that, he does not have a formal role in my campaign.
Question: You say on your webpage that “After 7 years of investigating my husband’s businesses, NO evidence was found that he ever broke the law.” On what is that based, given that we look like we might be going to trial soon and that indictment lays out 20 or so charges, including the allegation Rick used monies from some investors to pay off others?
On what basis do you assert that Rick “paid off” investors? Have you not read the charges? I would refer you to some of the most recent motions filed by his attorney to dismiss the charges as insufficient as a matter of law. You are also mistaken in that not one of the current charges deals directly with this issue.
In response to these recent motions, the government admits that they do not have any victims — no one that my husband lied to. The government’s case is built on an assumption that Rick should be responsible for a theory the government has presented, based upon representations made by other people, to other people.
As a practical matter, I would ask is that fair to do? For the government to charge one person with a crime and publicly seek to shame him for years, based on the unspecified acts of others. Look through all three of the government’s indictments. The first two are now defunct. But none of them describe any specific statements supposedly made by my husband to any other specific person.
The State of Utah, in declining to prosecute the case, admitted that they did not have any evidence that Rick broke the law. Mr. Hines, who was the head enforcement officer, repeatedly warned that the government’s case was “long on conclusions but short on facts.” Yet your paper has not reported on this very telling fact.
For several years now, the government has advanced its case based upon the assumption that the press will report these matters as if Rick is presumed guilty – that was admitted by the government in their own internal memorandums (another fact you have failed to report, despite it being repeated in public filings) - as opposed to any fair reporting based upon presumed innocence.
Why do you continue play your role as the government’s dutiful PR spokesperson, as the government relies upon – rather than simply report objectively. You have persistently and regularly failed to report on any development favorable to my husband but consistently seek to drag his name into the press for salacious and personal matters. .
Question: Where do you see that “the Government has now ADMITTED that they do not have any victims,” given that several are identified through initials in the indictment and will likely be witnesses at any trial?
You are clearly mistaken. I refer you again to the government’s own recent filings and statements in response to the defense motions to dismiss. You are assuming that “several” victims are identified in the indictment. They are not. The are three unnamed individuals who are supposedly part of certain transactions, but no allegations are made concerning them, representations made to them, or any other such details. Further, you are assuming those individuals identified were victims. That is not the language of the indictment. Why do you, as a reporter, have the prerogative to go beyond the language of the indictment? I suggest you do your job as a reporter and ask the government why they don’t describe any victims, why they don’t point out any specific statements supposedly made by my husband to specific people at specific times. I can’t do your job for you.
But again, my campaign is about more than my husband’s legal fight. It is about education, family law reform, and reforming corruption. On my campaign website I cite to third party reports that have given Utah a “D” grade for potential corruption and ranked the state 36 out of 50. These are serious problems that go well beyond my husband’s fight.
Question: While you say Shurtleff “dismissed the case,” that’s not the one that Rick now faces, which is federal not state. So how does Shurtleff’s actions relate to the current federal case?
Tom, I suggest you look back at the facts. When my husband was first indicted the government had a press conference. Then United States Attorney Bret Tolman announced publicly that it was a case brought “jointly” by the Utah Department of Commerce and the United States Federal Government. If you recall, Francine Giani gave part of that presentation. The Utah Department of Commerce was clearly announced as a “member of the prosecution team.” This press conference and a transcript thereof was included in recent court fillings. Why aren’t you reporting on that?
The current case is based upon the theory developed by the Utah Department of Commerce. The financial analysis was conducted by initially by Utah government bureaucrats. Representatives from the Utah Department of Commerce originally participated in the grand jury proceedings. Yet, unexplainably, you accept the government’s current attempt to distance itself from that corruption – without any inquiry whatsoever.
Question: Michelle says in the podcast that you agreed to a polygamous-type relationship and that you and Rick were “dating” with that in mind. Did you agree to some type of relationship with Rick that might lead to some type of plural type arrangement with the three of you?
In direct answer to your question, no I am not a polygamist and have never been interested in polygamy. I am an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in good standing. I agree with and support the doctrines and policies of the church. My children have already suffered through an unfortunate divorce, so have my husband’s. I invite you and others in the media to keep these kinds of salacious, gossip-related stories out of serious journalism.
Beyond my answer above, I will simply say, I am not even addressed in the podcast you reference. Further, I am not going to be baited into attacking my husband’s ex-wife. I respect her as the mother of his children. We work together daily and weekly in raising our children. I invite you to respect her and I by staying focused on public matters that relate to public interests. Beyond that, my personal life is really a private concern. Finally, we talked to Michelle when you brought up this supposed podcast yesterday and she clearly told us that she did not confirm to you that the people in her narrative were me or my husband. I recognize she has a story that she has told. My understanding is that it was told in a fictitious context. The small portion I have listened to is clearly not an accurate portrayal of my family or my relationship with my husband.
Question: Jewel why did you start using the last name of Skousen rather than either Kimber or Koerber? When did you start using that name?
My maiden name is Jewel Kimber. I was formerly married and my name then was Jewel Fish. Upon obtaining a divorce, like many women in my position I wanted a fresh start. I adopted my mother’s maiden name Skousen. It is also in honor of my grandmother and my grandfather. I am proud of my name and have kept Kimber as a middle name.
Mr. Harvey, I am personally astounded at some of these questions. It is true that I am a candidate for public office. But you have not inquired into the personal lives of any other candidate. How many times have they been married? How many conflicts have they had with ex-spouses? Why are their names what they are? I find your approach personally disgusting and beneath credible journalism. The only reason I have responded is to give your honest reader a hint that there is something far more substantive behind your muckraking. I am proud to be a woman running as a candidate for Utah House District #52 and am hopeful that your readers can see what is really behind your motivations, trafficking in this kind of tabloid style gossip based reporting.