Utah’s most prominent newspaper urged Sen. Orrin Hatch — the longstanding senator from the state — to “call it a career” for his “utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power.”
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In a blistering editorial published Monday, the Salt Lake Tribune explained that "Utahn of the Year" was not necessarily a compliment, with the recipient having “done the most. Has made the most news. Has had the biggest impact. For good or for ill.”
Another story published by the paper detailed the accomplishments that led to Hatch's designation, including his advocacy for "sweeping changes to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments" and his contributions to Republican tax reform efforts.
The editorial subsequently characterized his advocacy for changes to the national monuments, which the Trump administration severely curtailed, as a "dismantling."
As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the editorial board wrote that Hatch’s "fingerprints" were all over the GOP's tax bill, which passed the Senate and House last week and was signed by President Donald Trump on Friday.
After achieving his longtime goal of overhauling the federal tax code, the editorial board added that it is time for the senator to leave his post.
“It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career. If he doesn’t, the voters should end it for him.”
Hatch responded to the newspaper's decision on Twitter, writing that he is “grateful for this great Christmas honor from the Salt Lake Tribune.” The senator's office later explained that he was responding to the editorial and meant for the message to be read with sarcasm.
In a statement Tuesday, Hatch's office further expressed its hope that "the members of the Salt Lake Tribune editorial board find joy this holiday season in something beyond baselessly attacking the service and integrity of someone who given 40 years for the people of Utah, and served as one of the most effective lawmakers of all time."
The senator also tweeted another editorial from the newspaper “lauding” the Republican effort to shepherd in a new tax code for the American people.
Since Trump's election, the Salt Lake Tribune has often criticized Hatch for aligning with the President. In 2012, the newspaper endorsed Hatch in his re-election campaign for his current Senate seat.
Additional reporting by Mariam Khan.