On the EDge: Noel bill is payback to the feds

OPINION – Paybacks are, well, you know how the rest of that goes.

And, few people are better at dishing out what they believe to be grievous paybacks than a politician with grudge.

That’s why a bill proposed by Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, really isn’t that surprising.

Noel has authored a bill that, according to a report in UtahPolicy, would fix it so that law-abiding people who live a polygamist lifestyle no longer fear prosecution under Utah law.

“We don’t want to punish anyone anymore (polygamists) who are obeying all other laws,” Noel told the publication.

Forgive me for pointing out the contradictory nature of his statement, but Utah, in case anybody has forgotten, has a statute on the books that expressly bans the practice of plural marriage, as practiced by fundamentalist Mormons or anybody else.

The thing is, Noel would lead you to believe that there are good polygamists and bad polygamists.

The bad polygamists, to his thinking, are those who follow Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who is serving a life-plus sentence in a Texas prison for child rape after taking two underage girls – one 12, the other 14 – as his spiritual wives.

Noel says Jeffs and his cult are the bad guys.

“This new bill applies more to groups like the Davis County Kingstons, who have long had acceptable businesses and lifestyles, rather than the ‘Warren Jeffs’ of the world,” Noel told UtahPolicy.

Apparently Noel hasn’t done his homework.

You see, the Kingston Clan, as they are called, believe in a form of genetic purification that includes incestuous marriages – illegal under Utah law – to perfect the Kingston bloodline.

There have been a number of men from the Kingston Clan who have been convicted of such crimes, including a man who was convicted on incest charges for marrying his 16-year-old niece, a man who married and impregnated his half-sister, and a man who married a woman who was both his cousin and aunt. Yes, things are complicated in the polygamous cultures.

The Kingston Clan has also been a proponent of placing girls into marriage as soon as they become fertile – some as young as 13 – and financial fraud against the government, known in polygamist circles as “bleeding the beast.”

Yet, these are the kinder, gentler polygamists that Noel would like to protect.

It must be remembered that the area Noel represents includes the FLDS stronghold of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, twin cities located on the state line. The Kingstons are based just near Salt Lake City.

It must also be remembered that this bill does little more than put a stamp on the policy set by former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and his successor, John Swallow, who both refused to prosecute anybody for practicing polygamy.

Of course, Shurtleff and Swallow are cooling their heels right now as they await separate trial dates to answer a series of serious criminal charges filed against them.

It must also be remembered that Noel’s behavior as an elected member of the Legislature is also not beyond reproach, stemming from at least one clear-cut conflict of interest issue.

The conflict occurred in 2007 when a legislative committee was discussing a bill regarding funding for two nuclear reactors near Green River.

The committee was headed by Noel. The Vice-Chairman of the committee was Rep. Aaron Tilton, R-Springville.

The committee was debating whether a utility would be allowed to charge its customers for the development costs of the project.

Meanwhile, Noel, who was executive director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District – he maintains that position today, by the way – and Tilton, who headed Transition Power Development, which is now part of Blue Castle Holdings, the company overseeing the project.

Neither Noel nor Tilton disclosed direct interest in nuclear power or that they were working on any kind of deal.

It wasn’t until late in the year that the story broke and the public became aware of the back-room dealings.

Tilton is no longer a part of the Legislature. Noel, unfortunately, retains his seat.

The grudge part of it all is that Noel is also one of those guys who takes any opportunity to oppose the feds.

He was a supporter of the militia that seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He supports the Lake Powell Pipeline, a highly contested and controversial project that would cost taxpayers an extravagant sum of money for no good reason other than it would end up in the pockets of a select few.

I’ve gone a few rounds with Mike Noel in the past, so I am not surprised by this latest bit of legislation.

I see it as his way of dishing out a little payback to the federal government for forcing the Mormons to give up the practice of plural marriage in exchange for statehood. I see it as his way of dishing out a little payback for the myriad imagined sins committed by the federal government in the most current dustup over grazing rights. I see it as a little payback to the federal government for the Affordable Care Act, the raging public lands dispute in the West, for social policies ranging from immigration to wages that the extreme right is ready to go to war over.

It’s all part of a mob mentality that seems to have overcome the nation, even those who, before being seated in office, swear an oath to support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Utah, and discharge the duties of their office with fidelity.

Of course, to do so, they must first read and understand the Constitution and not interpret it like the radical neo-con extremists who are twisting it to suit their own wants, needs, or desires.


Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • Brian February 9, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Gay marriage good, plural marriage bad? Got it. Seems consistent.

    If you want them to prosecute incest / underage marriage / molestation / child abuse, etc, say so. Go after those crimes. But to be all things rainbow at the same time you’re opposing polygamy, which has all of the same defenses, seems pretty inconsistent.

    And to say that Utah has a law that expressly forbids polygamy without pointing out that the federal government expressly required that for statehood seems convenient.

    The second the supreme court ruled that gay marriage was legal and constitutional they essentially did the same for polygamy, assuming all other laws (age limits, consenting, etc) are followed. What argument is their supporting gay marriage that doesn’t also apply to polygamy?

    • mesaman February 10, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Sometimes history is most inconvenient. Rewriting the history books, ala Bammie Bojangles, is an example.

    • Rainbow Dash February 10, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      “What argument is their supporting gay marriage that doesn’t also apply to polygamy?” There is none actually. Marriage is a legal; institution between TWO people. First, a man and woman. Now, Man/Woman or Woman/Woman or Man/Man. I’ll say it again, Marriage is between TWO PEOPLE. No more, no less. Despite what your Bishop told you or what you read on some crackpot right-wing extremist blog, the fight for gay marriage was, in reality, a fight for EQUALITY under the laws of the United States. Gay people said, in a sense, Jill and Jack are TWO consenting, informed and capable adult people. They can get a married and enjoy over 1000 legal benefits but if Jack was Jane, they would be denied those same benefits”. Why? Because it’s Jane and Jill instead of Jack and Jill? I have Polygamist (No I’m not talking about the MORMON kind of “Polygamist”) and Polyamorous friends and am against them getting married because in doing so, they would be asking for special benefits not afforded to everyone else. It’s fair now because EVERYONE has the right to marry ONE other person at a time and EVERYONE is entitled to the same benefits as everyone else

  • beacon February 9, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Noel is definitely one of a kind. Hallelujah to that! People don’t challenge him because they’re afraid of him. One of these days someone who’s stronger than Noel and who actually stands up for real values and fairness will take him on, but it remains to be seen when that will happen. For people who haven’t seen him in action in meetings, it’s a scene to behold.

    • anybody home February 10, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      Yeah, what is it with Utah. Nobody challenges anybody because they’re afraid. What do people think he’ll do to them? Come on, Utah, get some guts and stand up to these yahoos. Make the world safe for everybody else.

  • anybody home February 9, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Sending the link to this to the folks in Oregon who tend not to believe the Utah wackiness that plays into the Malheur Refuge Occupation. This guy supported them…enough said.

    • Cameron February 10, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Show me where he supported them. Show the rest of the readers any proof that he has ever once stated he supported what they did in Harney County. You can’t and you never will, because Mike Noel never said it. Before you start hammering on Rep. Noel get you facts straight you moron. I know your used to writing on the bathroom stalls, but this blog requires facts.

      • Rainbow Dash February 11, 2016 at 10:50 am

        he may not have expressly stated he supported Vanilla ISIS but he did say:

        “What is going on in Utah has to be stopped. You are the men we have elected to stop that. Without your help, without your support, without your recognition of what’s happening, there will be bloodshed,” Noel told Stewart and congressional colleagues Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz. “People will not be pushed against a wall, they will not have their lands taken from them, their rights taken from them. Their access their rights as citizens of this state, I see it coming now. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen in the 40 years I’ve lived in this area. I represent 10 counties. Every one is impacted by an entity that doesn’t represent me. It doesn’t represent any of those citizens. They are here under false colors, they are here under false jurisdiction.”


        To me, his statement says that while he didn’t mention them by name, he does support them and what they did.

      • Rainbow Dash February 11, 2016 at 11:05 am

        Here he is at the Western “Freedom” Festival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zhj5wphj3nc

        Here he is on red meat radio supporting Phil Lyman and his illegal ride on recapture canyon.

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