Despite early confusion as to whether Thompson or bill sponsor Rep. Mike Morley deserved credit for dreaming up HB 353, the bill quickly gathered momentum. The Utah House and Senate passed the measure overwhelmingly and it was known to enjoy the support of Utah power broker - and Thompson ally - Gayle Ruzicka, head of the ultra-conservative Utah Eagle Forum.
Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman pulled the rug out yesterday, however. Huntsman vetoed the bill, citing constitutional concerns and the potential for "unintended consequences."
For his part, Thompson went on the offensive. A letter from the disbarred attorney to the Governor took a harsh tone and threatened even more restrictive legislative action in the future:
You got suckered [by the video game industry]. Further, there is no constitutional, First Amendment problem...
If your veto is not overridden, then we will be back with a bill to ban the sale of these products altogether, in light of the recent massacres in Germany and in this country directly caused by these murder simulation products that are being copycatted by teens who are being fraudulently sold them.
GP: The threat to ban violent games for players of all ages - including adults - would appear to be highly suspect, in light of the First Amendment. We asked Thompson about that, but he did not respond.
Thompson also circulated public records showing a May, 2006 campaign contribution of $500 from video game publishers' lobbying group the ESA to Huntsman. In an e-mail, Thompson accused the industry of buying Huntsman's veto.
We have verified that the $500 contribution from the ESA was received on behalf of Huntsman's 2004 campaign fund. But for Thompson's assertion to be correct, the ESA would have been prescient, indeed, to forsee - and pay for - a gubernatorial veto three years in advance. One would also have to accept the premise that the Guv could be bought. We asked Thompson about this, but again did not receive a response.
UPDATE: Some GP readers have requested the Thompson letter to Gov. Huntsman. It follows after the jump.