New bill would limit Utah Attorney General power over Election Lawsuits


 SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Attorney General Sean Reyes made headlines this election cycle when he threw his support behind a lawsuit challenging election results in another state. Now, one of our state lawmakers wants to keep him from making that kind of move again. 

Representative Brian King brought HB 232 to the session; it would require the AG get permission from the governor to participate in legal proceedings outside of our state. 

Back in December, Attorney General Reyes filed an amicus brief, essentially an opinion in writing meant to encourage the court to see a case one way or another. In this case, Reyes wanted the Supreme Court to weigh in on election results in other states–not in Utah. 

Representative King said, “I was particularly concerned when I saw that Governor Herbert and Lt. Gov. Cox, at the time, were also troubled by this and neither one of them had been consulted.”

Both the Governor and Lt. Governor released a statement saying, “The Attorney General did not consult us before signing on to this brief, so we don’t know what his motivation is. Just as we would not want other states challenging Utah’s election results, we do not think we should intervene in other states’ elections. Candidates who wish to challenge election results have access to the courts without our involvement. This is an unwise use of taxpayers’ money.”

Now, Rep. King wants to keep this from happening again in the future. 

“He’s got to demonstrate the extent to which the involvement in the lawsuit is protecting legitimate state interests under our statutes, under our regulation, under legislative resolution, ” King said. 

HB 232 is still a ways from becoming law; it needs a senate sponsor and a committee assignment before legislators can vote on it. 

King said, “Sometimes we can get more concerned about what’s going on in the national level than what’s going on in Utah. I don’t want that to happen.”

ABC4 reached out to the Attorney General’s office for comment and have not received a reply. 

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