Top Republican Orrin Hatch tweets that he's 'grateful' for editorial that said he had an 'unquenchable thirst for power'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesOrrin Hatch.
  • Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah highlighted that he was named The Salt Lake Tribune’s “Utahn of the Year,” tweeting that he was “grateful” for the honour.
  • But the editorial said he had an “utter lack of integrity” and called on him to not seek office again in 2018.

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah tweeted Monday night that he was “grateful” for the honour of being named The Salt Lake Tribune’s Utahn of the Year.

“Grateful for this great Christmas honour from the Salt Lake Tribune,” Hatch tweeted. “For the record, I voted for @SpencerJCox and @rudygobert27.”

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee followed up his tweet with one highlighting another editorial from the publication praising tax reform.

While on the surface that honour would seem to be one worth highlighting for the senator, a quick read of the Tribune’s editorial shows that the publication did not bestow him with the recognition for positive reasons.

“These things are often misunderstood,” the editorial began. “So, lest our readers, or the honoree himself, get the wrong impression, let us repeat the idea behind The Salt Lake Tribune’s Utahn of the Year designation. The criteria are not set in stone. But this year, as many times in the past, The Tribune has assigned the label to the Utahn who, over the past 12 months, has done the most. Has made the most news. Has had the biggest impact. For good or for ill.”

As reasons Hatch was chosen, The Tribune cited “his utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power” and what it called an “anti-environmental, anti-Native American and, yes, anti-business” move to scale back two major national monuments in the state.

Though the publication wrote of Hatch’s major role in passing Republicans’ tax overhaul in a more positive light, the editorial board wrote that the legislation’s passage was all the more reason for him to retire from office after serving for more than 40 years.

“But perhaps the most significant move of Hatch’s career is the one that should, if there is any justice, end it,” the board wrote. “The last time the senator was up for re-election, in 2012, he promised that it would be his last campaign. That was enough for many likely successors, of both parties, to stand down, to let the elder statesman have his victory tour and to prepare to run for an open seat in 2018.

“Clearly, it was a lie,” the board continued. “Over the years, Hatch stared down a generation or two of highly qualified political leaders who were fully qualified to take his place, Hatch is now moving to run for another term – it would be his eighth – in the Senate. Once again, Hatch has moved to freeze the field to make it nigh unto impossible for any number of would-be senators to so much as mount a credible challenge. That’s not only not fair to all of those who were passed over. It is basically a theft from the Utah electorate.”

Hatch’s office told Business Insider that the senator’s original tweet “was very tongue-in-cheek,” noting that the publication had expressed similar sentiment on multiple occassions in recent years

“Everyone celebrates Christmas differently,” Matt Whitlock, Hatch’s communications director, told Business Insider. “We all sincerely hope 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, just to satisfy their unquenchable thirst for clicks.”

Twitter, however, was still quick to jump on Hatch for the tweet:

This post has been updated to include comment from Hatch’s office.

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