Facebook Twitter



Two Democrats running for Congress this year say their GOP incumbent opponents hurt Utahns by voting against the crime bill now being considered in the U.S. House and Senate.

Meanwhile, Republican Enid Greene Waldholtz, who seeks to unseat Democratic Rep. Karen Shepherd, has announced her opposition to the crime bill.U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Pat Shea, in a press release, says Sen. Orrin Hatch and other congressional Republicans are hypocritical in criticizing President Clinton's crime bill, because they voted for much of the bill's spending earlier this year.

Bobbie Coray, who is running against GOP Rep. Jim Hansen in the 1st District, asserts in a long statement that Hansen has voted against various crime-fighting measures 28 times since 1982.

Waldholtz, also in a press release, says she opposes the bill Shea, Coray and Shepherd support because "it does little to stop crime and everything to waste crime-fighting dollars."

Hatch, R-Utah, was a co-sponsor of the original Senate crime bill and sat on the House/Senate conference committee that ultimately came up with the crime bill compromise. But Hatch now says the compromise bill has too much spending on social programs, not enough money for law enforcement.

Hansen, meanwhile, voted with most other Republicans last week in keeping the bill from reaching the House floor.

Shea says Republicans are just being obstructionists and partisan. "After having sponsored some very commendable amendments to the crime bill, Republicans are using those same programs as ammunition for charges that the bill is heavy with expensive social programs," he said.

Specifically, Shea said Hatch supported $1.8 billion for the Violence Against Women Act, part of the huge bill. The act now is tagged by Republicans as "pork" spending; it makes up 24 percent of the preventive crime spending.

"Some senators want it both ways," says Shea. "They can take credit from various constituencies, such as women, for proposing beneficial amendments and, at the same time, satisfy party pressures and powerful lobby groups, such as the NRA, by opposing the final bill. They assume that in all the permutation and confusion of a massive package, nobody is the wiser."

Shea claims that Hatch supported in earlier votes or statements four spending measures on the final bill that Republicans now oppose, including more money for sports programs - like midnight basketball for juveniles. "As recently as last November, Hatch was praising a $23 billion preliminary crime bill. He took credit for six provisions in that bill, including measures which addressed violence against women," says Shea. Now Hatch calls the bill, which still includes those six measures, a big spending boondoggle . . . loaded with billions in dollars in pork, Shea said.

Stop playing politics with crime, says Shea. "Building more prisons and adding more police are not enough. Other measures, including crime prevention programs, are also essential. We owe that much to our young people."

Coray lists 28 votes Hansen has made since 1982, terming them votes against federal efforts at crime control. Hansen's vote against the Clinton crime bill "shouldn't come as a surprise," says Coray. "This is just the latest in a long series of anti-law-enforcement votes Jim Hansen has cast over the years which range from voting against boot camps for juvenile offenders to cutting funds for more local police to voting to allow deadly `cop killer bullets,' which cut through bullet-proof vests. Jim Hansen talks tough on crime in Utah and votes soft on crime in Washington," says Coray.

Waldholtz says that Democrats' claim that $8.8 billion will put 100,000 new police officers on the streets is wrong - local police departments will have to pick up four-fifths of the cost of new cops, meaning only 20,000 law officers will actually be paid for. She says it takes, on average, $80,000 a year to hire and outfit a police officer. The $8.8 billion will pay for 20,000 officers or just one fourth of the cost of hiring 100,000 new officers, she figures. Twenty thousand cops "equates to one new officer per police department" across the country. Not much. "The bill funds more new social workers than new police officers," says Waldholtz.