Plagiarism, allegations of domestic abuse plague some candidates ahead of Republican conventions

Mar 20, 2024, 8:29 PM | Updated: Mar 22, 2024, 7:13 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — This weekend will mark the start of convention season for political parties in Utah. Specifically, Washington and Kane counties have their Republican county conventions on Saturday.

And for some candidates who didn’t gather signatures, their pasts are catching up with them as they try to win delegate support to find a spot on Utah’s primary ballot.

AG candidate admits to plagiarizing in 2005 BYU Law Review

Trent Christensen is running for attorney general against Derek Brown, Frank Mylar, and Rachel Terry.

An article written by Christensen from the 2005 BYU Law Review is now redacted by BYU for plagiarism.

The article was titled “From Direct “Public Use” to “Indirect “Public Benefit”: Kelo v. New London’s Bridge from Rational Basis to Heightened Scrutiny for Eminent Domain Takings heightened scrutiny for eminent domain.”

A redaction notice states that the editorial board of the BYU Law Review did an independent review of it.

“From this review we have concluded that there was substantial, systemic plagiarism in the note, including extended excerpts that directly reproduced or closely paraphrased materials that were not cited or attributed,” it states.

“It happened,” Christensen said. “There was a problem with an article that I published, and it’s one of those stories that I’m actually, when you look back on it, I actually look back at it, and I’m grateful for it because it taught me a lot,” he said.

“I wrote the article, published it. It was published for a time. And then, you know, a year later, they came back and looked at it and said, ‘Actually, there’s been some problems with it.’ So they decided to retract it,” Christensen said.

But he’s now putting his future ballot access in the fate of delegates asking them for “redemption” to move him to a primary anyway.

“Then, I worked with BYU and I worked at the law school, and then I graduated in the top 10% of my class magna cum laude. And I went back east, I passed the bar and I was accepted into the Massachusetts bar, even though they had all that information.”

Chistensen said he hopes delegates will give him a chance.

“That’s how this country ought to work, is people get second chances and people can go on and do a lot of good things. Right. And that’s what I want to do as the attorney general, protect people’s individual rights by being that voice against the powers of the current structure and in the Capitol,” he said.

The other issue facing Christensen is he doesn’t have a current Utah bar license. He said the Utah State Bar is in the process of approving his application.

“It’s currently March. It was submitted in October of last year, so it’s been a little while, but it’s in the process and the bar has told me that they’re moving it through the process.”

The Utah Constitution requires an attorney general candidate to be “25 years of age or older, at the time of election, admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the State of Utah, and in good standing at the bar.”

Washington County race for state Senate

Meanwhile, around 400 delegates in Washington County will decide the fate of longtime sitting Sen. Don Ipson. Ipson failed to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, meaning he now has to get on the ballot via the convention route.

“I’m not sure what happened,” Ipson said. “I had a group gathering for me and the county notified us at 4 (p.m.) on the last day that they were throwing out enough of them that we didn’t have enough signatures.”

Ipson said they were about 150 signatures short. He was involved in the controversial name change of Utah Tech from Dixie State, a hot topic for many in Washington County.

While Ipson battles his record, his convention challengers — Chad Bennion and Corey Green — are fighting off attacks about their histories.

In a letter to delegates recently, Bennion addressed previous allegations of domestic abuse.

“I was involved in a contentious divorce,” Bennion wrote. “I am innocent of this accusation.”

Bennion pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in the case and after completing an anger management class, the charge was dismissed.

“I did step down from the Salt Lake County GOP chair to protect my minor children and the GOP while I fought to clear my name. And I did clear my name,” he wrote.

“When all was said and done, the court awarded me sole custody of my minor children. This would not have happened if I were found guilty of abuse,” he said.

Meanwhile, Greene has previously run for Congress and at the time had to defend a charge of sexual battery.

*CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated Sen. Don Ipson was the sponsor of the name change bill for Utah Tech, it has since been corrected. 

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Plagiarism, allegations of domestic abuse plague some candidates ahead of Republican conventions