The Utah Legislature will meet in a Special Session in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 17 to discuss the investigation of Utah Attorney John Swallow-R. The session was called by Governor Gary Herbert-R on Friday.
Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart-R, Provo has informed House members via email of the session and changes that should be made to Utah’s Open-Meeting and Records laws that could allow for exemptions to those laws. That could mean some meetings are held without public knowledge, attendance by the public or the media. According to Lockhart, “The committee needs certain records and open meetings exemptions to properly conduct interviews and gather information.” She also wants the committee to be able to vote behind closed doors.
Legislation sponsored by House Majority Leader Brad Dee-R, Ogden includes subpoena power for the committee investigating Swallow and the ability to hire out-of-state attorneys, and as well as immunity for those who testify as part of the investigation.
Lockhart stated, “The people of Utah want answers and information. We are meeting that need. But we must do it the right way, so that everyone can have confidence in the outcome – whatever that may be.”
House Majority Leader Dee also told FOX13 News that because this was a “personnel matter,” some of the information uncovered by the investigation may not be made public. This brings to light questions about what qualifies as “personnel.” John Swallow was elected by the people of Utah, not hired by the State of Utah.
In response, Utah Democratic Party Executive Director Matt Lyon issued the following statement: “To restore the public trust and accountability in our government, we need real checks and balances, and an open and transparent process. The office of the Attorney General belongs to the people of Utah, not the Republican Party, and a balanced, accountable committee, open to public view, is critical for success. Utah Democrats hope that the changes that will be made next Wednesday to our open meeting laws will not create loopholes that allow the investigation to occur in the backrooms of the Republican caucus.”
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Source: Utah Political Capitol, FOX13 News, Utah State Legislature House of Representatives Blog, Utah Democratic Party