Utah lawmaker’s bill could trash Warren Jeffs’ mail-in revelations

Posted at 5:06 PM, Feb 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-17 09:29:23-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- For years now, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has sent revelations from his Texas prison cell to the Utah State Legislature.

The Fundamentalist LDS Church leader proclaims his innocence and demands that he be set free.

Hundreds of letters fill the inboxes of lawmakers, packed with sermons of the day's events and calls for them to repent for various "sins." Lawmakers have also received massive bound books entitled "Jesus Christ Message to All Nations," a collection of his prison cell proclamations.

FOX 13 first reported on the mass mailings by the FLDS Church last year. At the time, some lawmakers joked about revelations that forbade them from having sex with their spouses.

"I've been called into repentance," joked House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, in a recent interview with FOX 13. "Not just by Warren Jeffs! By others, too."

Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence in a Texas prison, having been convicted of child sex assault for taking underage girls as brides.

A sample of the writings of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs in a book sent to some state lawmakers and obtained by FOX 13.

A sample of the writings of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs in a book sent to some state lawmakers and obtained by FOX 13.

Many lawmakers have simply trashed the letters or refused to accept them. The books, however, are illegal for state lawmakers to possess.

"Under our current law, I have an obligation to actually mail that book back to Warren Jeffs," said Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork.

Utah law currently forbids lawmakers from receiving gifts valued at over $10. Legislators are required to return anything over that level. Rep. McKell said it is on the lawmaker -- not taxpayers -- to pay for the postage to send it back.

"The problem is, when I receive that book it's incumbent on me to go down to the post office, put it in a package, spend $8 to send it back wherever it came from," he told FOX 13. "We're trying to resolve that."

Rep. McKell has filed House Bill 234, which would allow lawmakers to keep books valued at up to $30. They can also donate the publications or trash them. Rep. McKell said it is not just books from the FLDS Church that lawmakers get; they often receive books from constituents seeking to educate them on various issues being discussed on Utah's Capitol Hill.

"The books I receive -- probably not the Warren Jeffs books -- I'm probably going to donate to my local library," McKell said.

HB234 passed out of committee unanimously and is expected to be discussed on the House floor within the next week or so. Rep. King said he believes it is a good bill, but raised concerns about public perception.

"I always worry about how it's perceived by the public," he said. "So I'm going to be listening very carefully to what people out there say, what my constituents say. If they have concerns about raising this from $10 to $30, I may very well vote against it."

Photos: Warren Jeffs and Wives