An outspoken conservative in the Beehive State is urging Utahns to contact their legislators and ask them not to start an investigation into scandal-laden Republican Attorney General John Swallow when they meet on Wednesday.
Cherilyn Eagar, the director of the American Leadership Fund and former 2012 congressional candidate, sent an email to her supporters tonight claiming the Legislature’s staff attorney, John Fellows, is biased because he serves at the discretion House Speaker Becky Lockhart. The email also goes on to say Fellows’ intentionally misled lawmakers when he spoke to the Republican caucus two weeks ago, when he said that because Utah has never been through the impeachment process before, legislators have the authority to define what an impeachable offense is.
Eagar concludes her memorandum by calling for lawmakers to hire an independent attorney to advise them, rather than relying on Fellows, and to postpone any decision on whether to investigate Swallow for at least a month.
The full House of Representatives will meet Wednesday at 10 a.m., to decide whether or not to create a committee to investigate the actions of John Swallow both during and before his election to Attorney General in November 2012.
The full memorandum, which was linked to in the email, is as follows:
To: Members of the Utah State House of Representatives
From: Cherilyn Eagar, American Leadership Fund
Re: Resolution and Documentation Regarding Forming a Special Investigating Committee
Today I found new information online to share with you that I urge you to read before Wednesday’s special session.
The first is a proposed resolution to set the rules for a House Special Investigative Committee. To view, click on the link below:
The second file is an additional letter to your legal counsel with a copy of three cases brought before the Utah Supreme Court that document the Court’s interpretation of impeachment. To view it, click on the link below:
I am urging you to do three things at the special session.
- Read these documents before your special session Wednesday, July 3, 2013;
- Support a motion to postpone this proposed resolution for one month and,
- Hire independent counsel to provide a second opinion.
Here are the reasons for this request:
You will notice in the documents citing case law that the Utah Supreme Court defines the terms of impeachment far differently from your in-house legislative counsel, who was hired (or fired) by the same person that appoints the investigative committee, the Speaker of the House. That puts your in-house counsel at a disadvantage, if not under pressure to accommodate his employer.
As such, your in-house counsel erroneously claims that the Utah Supreme Court’s findings do not apply to the Legislature. During your caucus on June 19, 2013, he attempted to distinguish between a legislative impeachment and a judicial removal, yet the language is identical in case law.
The Utah Supreme Court clearly says the House cannot impeach for any acts – or even felony convictions – that occurred in a prior term. It does not define as impeachable any acts that precede the elected term of office.
Meanwhile, with the position the House legal counsel has taken, your legal counsel also presumes that the legislative branch is more powerful than the judicial branch and that it has the authority to ignore the interpretation of the Court.
By so doing, he also presumes that the Utah Supreme Court will admit it ruled incorrectly as charged when this case makes its way to Utah’s highest Court. That presumption is short-sighted at best, if not constitutionally naive.
To support actions that would put the system of checks and balances out of balance is a dangerous precedent to set. It could also prove embarrassing and damaging to you and your colleagues to go down such a path.
In light of this information, I find that your in-house counsel may have a conflict of interest, and I strongly urge you to take action to require a second opinion through an independent counsel. As you know, independent counsel has been used routinely at the federal level. It seems to be a prudent decision at this juncture.
For me, the question being considered has never been about whether the Attorney General (or his predecessor) is guilty or innocent. In fact it’s not really about the Attorney General himself at all.
It’s about the Constitutional process, respecting the definition of impeachment under case law, and the Constitutional scope of the investigation, to the exclusion of political gain or fallout.
In short, it’s about you and what process you want to set forth for yourself, should such a charge be levied against you or those to follow.
Put another way: How you define fairness today for the Attorney General will also decide fairness for you tomorrow. Some elected officials unfortunately do live in glass houses.
Do you want to risk removing your own constitutional protections in order to pass this ill-conceived resolution today should you one day find yourselves the rightfully or falsely-accused target? Please do not follow the example of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. If you have not done so yet, take time to carefully read the proposed resolution as well as the document containing three separate citations of Utah case law set forth by the Utah Supreme Court.
In conclusion, I am asking members of the Utah State House of Representatives to read carefully these documents, to support a motion to postpone this resolution for a month, and to hire outside counsel to provide a second opinion to the legislature.
Thank you for your consideration.
American Leadership Fund