Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah; and Lawrence Rey Topham, who is running for the U.S. Senate, have made Project Vote Smart's flunk list for refusing to answer the nonpartisan citizen group's survey.
Project Vote Smart is a national effort to educate voters. The group sent out a questionnaire earlier this year. Utah's other congressional candidates filled out and returned the group's 16-question survey. Vote Smart compiles the candidates' answers, publicizes them and has toll-free number where voters can call to find out their candidates' stands. That number is 1-800-622-SMART.Richard Kimball, Project Vote Smart's director, said, "In a democracy, elected officials are the hired help. Their campaigns are really job applications. Unfortunately, it has become standard political strategy to avoid answering the citizens' questions. Too often candidates prefer to control the job interview process with campaign ads, mudslinging, and political slogans. This manipulation strikes at the heart of the people's right to know and to make informed choices."
Hatch's Democratic opponent, Pat Shea, did answer Project Vote Smart's questionnaire and, in a press release, criticized Hatch's failure. "After 18 years in office, Hatch should know where he stands on the issues. This is just another instance where the arrogance of a Washington insider intrudes into the political process."