Beckham’s campaign has also frustrated other Republicans for the unauthorized use of photos in campaign mail.
One of the most contentious races of the 2022 election cycle is the contest for the Republican nomination in Orem’s Senate District 23, where State Senator Keith Grover is trying to take on the challenge of fellow Republican Brandon Beckham. .
Shortly after Beckham asked to appear, Utah County prosecutors charged him with one count of forcible sexual abuse. According to court documents, he is accused of assaulting a woman last summer.
As Beckham battles to avoid elimination from the race at Saturday’s Utah County convention, his supporters argue the felony charge is a ‘political stunt’ and part of a campaign to assassination. At the same time, Beckham’s campaign frustrated two Utah Republicans in Congress by posting their photos on campaign mail.
An email circulating with delegates claims that Beckham is “Kavanaughed”, a reference to the sexual assault charges brought against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings in 2018.
“We all saw the political blow that was done to Brett Kavanaugh when he was appointed to the Supreme Court. I believe we are seeing the same thing now,” delegate Andrew Knaupp wrote in an email sent to delegates this week.
To back up his argument, Knaupp said Utah County Attorney David Leavitt filed the charges on March 8, the same day as Utah’s Republican caucus meetings. He also maintains that Beckham was not made aware of the accusations until they surfaced in the media.
“Instead of focusing on the issues Brandon brings to the table, it’s now about character assassination,” Knaupp wrote.
The Utah County District Attorney’s Office vehemently denied that politics played a role in the charges or their timing. Public Information Officer Sherrie Hall Everett said prosecutors were unaware Beckham was a candidate until asked by members of the media.
“Our office does not notify any defendant of charges in court until the Court issues a court date or a subpoena or warrant. No one in our office had any idea that the accused was running for office, and it took us several hours to confirm it. Mr. Leavitt was later informed of the media interest, but did not know any details about the case,” Everett said.
Knaupp did not respond to a request for comment for this story. A spokesperson for Beckham’s campaign said he was unaware of the email and declined to comment.
Beckham is scheduled to make his first appearance in a Provo courtroom on April 20.
The charges against Beckham appear to have slowed his campaign fundraising. By March 8, he had raised just over $13,000 from more than 30 donors, including former state officials Kim Coleman and Steve Christiansen. After the charges became public, he raised an additional $7,000 from three donors.
Another controversy surrounding Beckham’s campaign erupted in the days leading up to the convention over the unauthorized use of photos in a campaign direct mail. The Mail features a photo of Beckham posing with Sen. Mike Lee and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem at a recent fundraiser. Another photo shows Beckham giving the ‘thumbs up’ sign alongside Rep. Burgess Owens.
Although the sender didn’t mention Lee or Owens, the implied endorsement elicited a strong reaction.
“Mike Lee in no way endorses Brandon Beckham, nor have we given him permission to use this photo,” said Matt Lusty, Lee’s campaign manager.
The incumbent Grover campaign recently sent out a letter touting Owens’ official endorsement in the race.
Dana Robinson, spokeswoman for Beckham’s campaign, said the mail was not intended to imply that Lee or Owens had offered their endorsement.
“It’s very common for them (Congressmen) to take a picture with someone who was helping them with their campaigns. People just assume that because they see it in the picture, they feel like they have to approve of it. Brandon never gave any indication that they approved of it,” Robinson said.
Grover took a different view of the sender from Beckham, accusing his opponent of political chicanery.
“It’s unfortunate that my opponent is trying to mislead voters by implying that elected officials, including the one who supported my campaign,” Grover said.
Beckham’s campaign must garner at least 40% delegate support to qualify for the June primary election. Failure to meet this threshold will end his campaign. Grover is safe from elimination, grabbing a spot in the June primary thanks to Utah’s signature-gathering path.
This is Beckham’s first run for political office, but he is no stranger to Republicans in Utah. He was the director of “Keep My Voice,” the group that unsuccessfully tried to repeal the Utah law allowing candidates to collect signatures. He drafted a resolution to censure Senator Mitt Romney following his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump in his first impeachment trial. The resolution also called on Romney to support Trump’s agenda or resign from his seat.
More recently, Beckham has been embroiled in the controversy surrounding how race and history are taught in public schools. He produced an alarmist film warning of the alleged dangers of critical race theory and Marxism in public education, reported the Standard-Examiner. The film was financed by Senator John Johnson, who distanced himself from Beckham after the allegations against him became public.