I was tweeting with someone earlier today on Twitter and the subject came around to the 2016 elections. Both of us agreed that Republican Senator Ted Cruz from Texas would make an excellent choice for the presidential candidate. I then suggested Republican Senator Mike Lee from Utah as his vice-presidential running mate.
After tweeting that out, I decided to do a little investigative work into his background so that there would be no surprises during a possible vice-presidential campaign. Even if he didn’t run for vice-president or any office for that matter in 2016, I wanted to know more about the man who has recently been in the news with Senator Ted Cruz. There were some surprises and some questions left unanswered for me. If there were questions for me then surely the Democrats could and probably would use it as an opportunity to attack his credibility in any future political endeavors.
Here’s what I learned. Senator Mike Lee grew up with a father who became the U.S. Solicitor General under former Republican President Ronald Reagan. Many nights were spent around the family table in the Lee house talking about the U.S. Constitution. Lee’s father was also the founding dean of Brigham University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, the same school from which Mike Lee would attend and graduate from in 1997.
Mike Lee grew up in a family who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon). It’s interesting to note, that Lee is friends with Democrat Harry Reid’s son and Senator Reid was the Mormon home teacher to the Lee family when Lee was growing up. A home teacher is charged with teaching the Mormon faith in the home to its members.
Upon graduation from law school, Mike Lee eventually became legal counsel to Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. (2005-2006) and held a clerkship with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Alito who was appointed by George W. Bush.
Throughout his career, Lee has received high ratings from conservative groups, such as the Heritage Foundation while at the same time, receiving low marks from this same group for voting for the GSE Bailout and Tax Payer Protection Act that would privatize Freddy and Fannie.
You may recall that in 2010, Mike Lee won a seat as United States Senator by 62 percent in the general election, a position which he currently holds, against Democratic candidate Granato’s 33 percent and Constitution Party’s Bradley’s 6 percent. It was a Tea Party victory and landslide by all rights!
Senator Mike Lee is noted also for his vote in 2011 against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2012, making him one of only seven U.S. Senators and one of only three Republicans who voted against it, because of concerns over a particular section in the Act that gave the Armed Forces the power to indefinitely detain any person, including a U.S. citizen who was part of or substantially supported by al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or in forces engaged in hostilities against the U.S.
More recently, Senator Lee has stood with Senator Ted Cruz in attempting to defund Obamacare. For this, he has received much criticism from his own party and from his constituents in Utah who don’t agree with his part in the government shutdown. His hometown newspaper, the Deseret News, spoke out against him and the financial impact that the shutdown was causing for the people of Utah. His favorability rating, according to the Deseret News, had dropped below 50 percent after nine counties declared states of emergency and the tourism sector in Utah suffered losses.
Senator Lee has also found himself in uncomfortable situations. In 2012, Senator Lee quietly distanced himself from a Republican fundraiser in Utah when it was announced that the GOP fundraiser had been arrested and charged with 23 felonies and 2 misdemeanors on accusations that he raped four women, including two at a Utah cabin following political events that Lee and other noted Republicans in the state attended.
Additionally, it has been reported that in 2011, Senator Lee short sold his million dollar home in Utah to Ron McMillan, co-founder of VitalSmarts LLC, an organizational consulting firm. While Lee’s home was reportedly worth one million dollars, Mr. McMillan purchased the home for $722,000. Also, McMillan’s company, Vital Smarts, has federal contracts and have been mentioned by Senator Lee on the Senate floor. Finally, Mike Lee and his family now rent a home owned by Ron McMillan. Due to these factors, some have questioned the appearance of impropriety on the sale.
In closing, it has been alleged that many Republicans, especially those who have been Senators for an extended period of time (RINOs) have voiced their opposition to Senator Lee. Their lack of support could be a detriment to any vice-presidential bid.
Most recently, Senator Peter King of New York (began his political career in 1977 and is a possible candidate for 2016), dubbed one of the loudest and most consistent opposition voices to the Tea Party Senators, has criticized Senator Lee over tactics he and Senator Cruz participated in and which led up to the government shutdown. Senator King spoke out against the Tea Party Senators on Fox News and called the strategy “doomed to fail” from the start. Senator Lee fired back, calling Senator King, “just plain wrong.”
Also, it is uncertain whether the American public will be able to look past his religious affiliation, which allegedly was an issue with a number of Republican voters for then presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. Or will the focus be on his past business dealings, specifically those regarding his home and the connection with federal contracts? Finally, will his connections with the Tea Party be a negative force in any possible bid to moderate Republicans?
Should Senator Mike Lee make a run for the office of Vice President in 2016, the American people will need to look at the entirety of his record and make a decision regarding whether Senator Lee is a politician that can be trusted or a disappointment like so many supposed “conservative” Republican candidates in the past have turned out to be.
Article originally posted October 16 at SusanKnowles.com
Note: Susan Knowles is an author, psychotherapist and former practicing attorney. Her latest book, a political fiction, is entitled, “Freedom’s Fight: A Call to Remember” available on Amazon.com. Her website is www.susanknowles.com.