LOGAN – The primary race here in Utah’s 1st Congressional District is heating up, with Republican challenger Paul Miller raising speculation about an alleged quo pro quo deal between incumbent U.S. Rep. Blake Moore and employees of a military defense contractor based in Clearfield.

“Usually, where there is smoke, there is fire,” Miller said in an e-mail distributed to 1st District media outlets on May 26. “This is highly concerning behavior.

“It is also the exact behavior we need to get rid of in Congress.”

But the Moore campaign is just shrugging off Miller’s speculation as that of a candidate desperate for attention.

“If there was any issues or concerns with contributions to Congressman Moore’s campaign,” said Matt Lusty, a campaign spokesman, “you would be hearing about it from the Federal Election Commission or the House Ethics Committee, not his challengers.”

Miller’s concerns focus on campaign contributions from ES3, a defense contract that operates more than 200,000 square feet of customized office, laboratory and production facilities in seven locations including Clearfield, Utah; San Diego, California; Warner Robins, Georgia; Midwest City, Oklahoma; and Vienna, Austria.

The mission of ES3 is to improve the performance, maintenance and supply of mission-critical and safety-of-flight components while reducing the environmental impact of aerospace production processes and the hazardous exposures of aviation maintenance crews.

Miller has raised questions about the timing of more than $150,000 in campaign contributions to Moore from ES3 employees, their spouses and other family members since February of 2022.

For example, he says, The House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2022 on Dec. 8, 2021. Moore was then a member of the House Armed Services Committee that worked on that bill. Some two months later, ES3 employees and family members donated $43,200 to his re-election campaign.

A similar series of events took place in 2022, when the House passed the NDAA for 2023, followed by a combined $54,300 donation by ES3 employees and their families.

That series of events reoccurred in 2023, when the House passed the NDAA for 2024, followed by a combined $56,100 donation from ES3 employees and their families.

Miller acknowledges that his concerns about those series of events are only speculation “… without seeing some communication between Congressman Blake Moore and ES3 employees” for which the Federal Bureau of Investigation would need a search warrant.

But Moore’s campaign staff assures 1st District constituents that Miller’s alleged concerns are groundless because those contributions were completely legal under federal statutes.

At the state GOP convention in April, the incumbent congressman failed to cinch this party’s nomination, coming in second to electrician Miller who earned nearly 55 percent of delegates votes to Moore’s 45 percent.

Having experienced a similar disappointment in 2022 – when convention delegates threw their support to conservative hard-liner Andrew Badger – Moore had also collected signatures to guarantee him a spot on the ballot for the Republic primary in late June.

In the same situation as Gov. Spencer Cox and other moderate Utah Republicans, Moore is now hoping that his popularity and record of bipartisan cooperation with congressional colleagues will carry him through the primary balloting to the general election in November.

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