Mormon Church’s Top Lobbyist Gets Picked to Run State Office That Drafts Laws

If you were concerned that there’s too cozy a relationship between the Mormon Church and the Utah legislature… well, this will not ease your fears one damn bit.

John Q. Cannon, a man paid by Mormons to lobby on their behalf, is now going to be in charge of the office that writes laws. He’s practically jumping over the wall between church and state.

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Utah lawmakers on Wednesday recommended the Mormon church’s chief lobbyist for a top job overseeing the Legislature’s office that drafts laws, gives legal advice and staffs committees.

John Q. Cannon’s nomination to head up the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel drew no public debate or questions from lawmakers or government watchdog groups in Utah, and a bipartisan group of dozen lawmakers unanimously and quickly recommended him for the job.

It’s a non-partisan position and — who knows — he may be a fine candidate for it once he’s approved. But his ability isn’t the concern here. It’s the idea that the Mormon Church has a direct line to the government in a way that no other religious (or non-religious) group has.

“I will answer to and be completely loyal to the Legislature and the people that they represent,” he said ahead of the hearing. After his recommendation, Cannon said was honored to get the job.

The Mormon church has a right to address issues it believes are important, Cannon said, adding that he thinks “people will be surprised at how little the church actually lobbies.”

Right… Because if there’s one thing we learned from Proposition 8, it’s that Mormons never get too involved in politics.

This was an interesting little detail, too:

Four members of the six-person hiring subcommittee, including [Democratic Rep. Brian] King, said they are members of the Mormon faith but said religion was not a consideration and that Cannon’s experience made him the best choice.

Of course it wasn’t… but I’m guessing it didn’t hurt.

To be sure, Cannon doesn’t propose or pass legislation in this position. But it’s hard to imagine someone with the same credentials but of a different religion, or no religion, getting the speedy green light from government officials. There’s plenty of reason for people who aren’t Mormon to keep a close eye on what he does and how legislation will help the Church in the future.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)

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