A Utah Republican Senate candidate finds himself in the midst of a controversy surrounding his endorsement list.
Brad Wilson, the candidate in question, is accused of falsely claiming endorsements from over 60 state lawmakers and 50 mayors in Utah, a claim several officials have contested.
Wilson, hoping to fill the Senate seat vacated by retiring Senator Mitt Romney, published a list earlier this year. The list purportedly contained the names of 60 lawmakers who had endorsed his campaign.
Brad Wilson, who has launched an exploratory committee earlier this year, is now embroiled in controversy. According to reports, Wilson, currently serving as the Speaker, released a list earlier in the year citing endorsements from over 60 state lawmakers for his Senate campaign.
More recently, he claimed support from over 50 Utah mayors. However, these assertions have come under scrutiny as several officials named in these lists have categorically denied endorsing Wilson.
At least four officials, including state lawmakers and mayors, have openly refuted their alleged endorsements. One anonymous lawmaker has accused Wilson of exerting pressure on state House members to contribute to his campaign. This lawmaker, who felt compelled to donate due to Wilson's influential position, clarified that their financial contribution was not an endorsement.
This allegation of pressured donations casts a shadow over Wilson's campaign tactics. The anonymous lawmaker described an uncomfortable scenario where they felt obliged to donate to Wilson's campaign, highlighting the influence wielded by Wilson in his capacity as Speaker.
The lawmaker told Fox:
"Then this letter comes down ... saying that I was on a list of legislators that had endorsed him. I'm like, 'Whoa, I didn't endorse Brad. I gave him money because he asked for it ... he's speaker of the House. I called other legislators, and they said the same thing. They felt like they were put in a tough position where they felt like they had to donate to him."
This account was further corroborated by other lawmakers who confirmed being listed as endorsers without their consent. Some even stated they lost committee seats for not supporting Wilson financially. The situation raises concerns about the integrity of the campaign and the potential misuse of power in securing endorsements or donations.
Adding to the controversy, one mayor who supported Wilson's opponent was surprised to find their name on the list of endorsers. This incident suggests a possible misrepresentation of support, further complicating Wilson's campaign narrative. The anonymous lawmaker also accuses Wilson of lying and misusing his power, a serious charge in political campaigns.
Despite these allegations, Wilson's campaign maintains a firm stance. A spokesperson for the campaign stated:
"It's sad our opponents are spending Thanksgiving agonizing over Brad's endorsement list, but the fact is Brad Wilson has over one hundred Republican endorsements from every corner of Utah, many times more than all the other candidates in the race combined."
The allegations against Wilson, if proven, raise serious questions about the ethics of campaign conduct. As the race for the Senate seat continues, it remains to be seen how this controversy will impact Wilson's chances.