Lee and McMullin: Separating fact from fiction

Nov 4, 2022, 5:00 PM | Updated: 6:58 pm
McMullin and Lee are pictured...
Sen. Mike Lee and Evan McMullin will face off for the seat currently held by Lee. Photo credits: (left) Spenser Heaps/ Deseret News, (right) Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY — The fight for the US Senate between independent challenger Evan McMullin and Republican Sen. Mike Lee has grown nasty across about every medium possible. But how much truth is in the charges leveled by both sides?

Amelia Powers Gardner, Utah County commissioner and campaign chair for Lee, joins KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic.

McMullin addresses what he calls lies from Lee’s campaign. 

Does McMullin owe millions to Utahns?

“We literally have small businesses here in Utah that Evan McMullin’s presidential campaign [from 2016] owes hundreds of thousands of dollars to,” Gardner said.

She further charged that a PAC ad had accused McMullin of paying himself millions of dollars out of his nonprofits.

“Is it true, Evan?” Debbie asked.

“It is absolutely not true. First of all, I did not pay — I have never paid myself millions of dollars. My finances are a matter of public record. Anyone can go to the Senate’s website and look that up,” McMullin said. “In fact, my political work over the last several years is coming to great financial sacrifice to me and my family, so that is a lie.

“The other part of that is that I owe hundreds of thousands of dollars to Utah businesses. That is also a very big lie, very incorrect,” he said.

McMullin acknowledged that his 2016 failed president campaign accumulated debt.

“Most of it is owed to a Florida law firm that worked on ballot access for us across the country. And we’re committed to paying that down,” he said. “But the [Mike] Lee campaign and its allies have been lying about all of these and other issues for the entire campaign, and it’s disappointing.”

Does McMullin have three homes?

“I don’t think Evan represents Utah’s voice. I mean, he owns three homes — I know your average Utahn can’t afford three homes — and only one of them is in Utah. And he bought that home when he decided he wanted to run for the Senate in Utah,” Powers Gardner said.

“Do you have three homes or does it even matter how many homes you have?” Dave asked.

“Another lie. I have — my wife and I have a home here in [edited out] where we live. We do have a couple of investment properties, condominiums elsewhere that are our investments, and that’s what they are. They’re not homes. We have one home,” McMullin said.

 Will Utah be the next power state?

Vowing to be an independent voice for Utah, McMullin said party bosses and special interests are now asking what this will mean for the Washington, D.C.. power dynamic if he replaces Lee.

“Because I’ll be a swing vote between the parties and not beholden to the party bosses or special interest groups, it will make Utah the most powerful state in the nation,” McMullin said. “You will read in the news, if we prevail, every single week the question, ‘What does Utah think?’ Because nothing will get through the Senate without the vote of Utah’s one or two senators on an issue.”

“[McMullin] plans not to caucus with either party, which he thinks will make Utah matter more,” Debbie said. “What’s Senator Lee’s campaign response to that?”

“Well, the truth of the matter is that the Senate runs by certain rules, and if you choose not to caucus with either party, you actually have significantly less sway,” Powers Gardner responded. ” . . . I think that there are ways that we can work together, we can work across the aisle. You don’t have to be an independent to do that.”



Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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Lee and McMullin: Separating fact from fiction