Let this be a message to anyone who would expose the dirty laundry of leaders of the Utah Legislature. Rep. Steve Mascaro, R-West Jordan, was one of five Legislators, and one of just two Republicans, who filed a formal complaint with the House Ethics Committee that got the ball rolling on a bribery investigation of a fellow lawmaker. Then, just as the investigation began licking at the heels of House Republican leaders, a story leaked to newspapers about an intern accusing Mascaro of inappropriate touching in his private office. Mascaro doesn’t think it is a coincidence and it’s hard to argue with him. Maybe Mascaro should be next up for an ethics committee probe, but the smear shouldn’t get legislative leaders off the hook for their own ethical lapses.
The medical-record-stealing gang that couldn’t shoot straight was recently rounded up by the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office. The University of Utah hospital records they stole have been recovered. It appears that patient information wasn’t compromised. The thieves—apparently turned in for the reward money—don’t appear to have figured out how to sell the information. It could easily have gone worse. The U records included Social Security numbers for nearly one million people, a potential gold mine to identity thieves. In the end, it looks like what saved the U was the fact that the thieves in the words of Sheriff Jim Winder could not “find their rear end with both hands.” The U shouldn’t count on being so lucky next time.
In Utah, sealing 15 puppies in a garbage bag and throwing them in a dumpster to suffocate is a misdemeanor. Michael Ray Howard found that out at his recent sentencing. The Weber County man pleaded guilty to 13 counts of animal cruelty, one count for each dogs that died. He additionally pleaded guilty to one count of attempted animal cruelty for the single puppy that lived. Yet another charge, drug possession, turned out to be the one that will give him serious prison time. Unlike the puppy charges, drug possession can be a felony. Utah’s Legislature this year for the first time increased the penalty for abusing dogs and cats. But the new felony crime only applies to “torture.” Puppy suffocation doesn’t necessarily count.