SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A Utah legislator says he is moving to “open a bill file to look at impeaching our Attorney General.”
Representative Andrew Stoddard (D-Midvale) released a statment Tuesday morning, saying:
“Utah’s Attorney General, Sean Reyes, has worked shamelessly over the past few months to undermine our country’s election results. As an attorney and a public officer, he has violated his duty to the State. He has put the aims of special interest groups above the voters who elected him. His involvement with RAGA, the Republican Attorneys General Association, has been very concerning given their role in inciting the domestic terrorism that occurred at our nation’s Capitol on January 6th. Reyes has not provided clear answers to his involvement with any of this.
As a legislator, a member of a coequal branch of government, my options to investigate these potentially unethical and impeachable offenses are very limited. I can file a GRAMA request, or I can open a bill file seeking impeachment. The current state code provides no in-between option for the legislative branch to investigate another branch of government. Therefore, after much consideration, I have opened this bill file to impeach the Attorney General. My action is not meant as a display of incivility or partisanship. My decision comes from a desire to make sure that our state is represented ethically and to hold public officers to the highest standard of public responsibility.”
In December, Attorney General Reyes joined 16 other attorneys general in endorsing a baseless Texas petition to invalidate the election results in four battleground states won by President Joe Biden – Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, and Wisconsin, which was ultimately rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. He also reportedly took personal time off to join former President Trump’s unsupported legal challenges to overturn the legal democratic vote in Nevada.
Under Utah Code §77-5, members of the House of Representatives may file a resolution of impeachment against public officers for “high crimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office.”
The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment but requires at least a two-thirds vote to succeed.
Attorney General Reyes made headlines this election cycle when he threw his support behind a lawsuit challenging election results in another state. Reyes has been serving as Attorney General since 2013, recently winning reelection in November after Greg Skordas conceded.
In December, Reyes signed Utah onto a Texas election lawsuit that challenged results in Pennsylvania and other states. Then-Governor Gary Hebert and Governor-elect Spencer Cox released a joint statement, calling Reyes’ decision “an unwise use of taxpayers’ money.”
The Supreme Court later rejected the lawsuit.
Days later, a petition began circling, calling for the impeachment of Reyes. Over 1,300 Utahns signed an open letter demanding Reyes apologize or resign from his position after pledging Utah’s support to a lawsuit to overturn the 2020 election results.
The letter begins by saying, “As concerned Utahns who love both our state and our country, we feel we must speak out forcefully against your unilateral decision to add Utah to the amicus brief supporting the attempt by the state of Texas to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in four states where President Trump lost.
Another state lawmaker, Representative Brian King, wants to keep Reyes from making that kind of move again.
Rep. King brought HB 232 to the session. The bill would require the AG get permission from the governor to participate in legal proceedings outside of our state.
“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,” says Representative King.
HB 232 is still a ways from becoming law; it needs a senate sponsor and a committee assignment before legislators can vote on it.
Reyes released a statement responding to the moves for his impeachment, saying in part,
“Impeachment is a drastic measure, especially if, as Representative Stoddard says, he is simply looking for answers to his questions. If I had questions regarding his bill, I wouldn’t send a subpoena, I’d make an appointment with him.During this session, my team has helped Rep. Stoddard with his criminal justice bills but I don’t believe he has ever asked to meet with me to discuss his concerns. My door is always open.”