The House of Representatives has decided to create a committee that will investigate the actions of our sitting Attorney General, it is vitally important that the representatives who make up this committee are selected with great care.
Utah Policy managing editor Brian Schott has suggested that the only qualified Democratic members to serve on this committee are the Democratic Lawyers, Representatives Brian King and Patrice Arent. Although I believe both Representatives to be thoughtful and would do a good job, Brian Schott is wrong in asserting that only Lawyers are qualified to serve on this committee.
This is not the committee to stack deep with lawyers. The Federal investigation will be run exclusively by lawyers. Any investigation by the State Bar Association will also be run by lawyers. This committee, run by the People’s House, needs to be stacked with people. They will determine whether the Attorney General acted ethically as judged by the people.
I would hate to see this committee bogged down in a legal quagmire because the Speaker felt that only attorneys could serve on it. I would be equally disappointed to see this committee grind to a halt over partisan bickering.
The best qualified candidate for this committee would be me. However, I’m not elected to the House of Representatives so in lieu of my service, I would like my representative, Representative Briscoe, to serve on this committee as he represents me. I believe that every person in Utah should feel exactly the same way. As a person of color, I would also like to see a person of color serving on this committee. In the interest of justice, I would like to see a member from a rural area serve on the committee. Since Utah’s population is over 50% women I would like to see the committee’s membership be over 50% women. Since all Representatives can’t serve, I think Speaker Lockhart has some very difficult committee appointments to make.
The investigation of an elected official should never be entered into lightly. Impeachment proceedings, and to some degree even this committee, could have the effect of overturning the popular vote. Any time that we want to override results of an election we should only do so if there is a clear and compelling reason. An Attorney General who acts outside of ethical expectations is a clear and compelling reason. This committee, through its investigation, is going to have to determine whether or not the Attorney to General acted within accepted and expected boundaries of ethics.
The resolution allows this committee to take up to 18 months to return the findings. That is too long!
Any member who sits on this committee should work diligently and efficiently to return to report within the next six months. This committee should use the full weight, power, and influence of the Utah State House of Representatives to get this job done as quickly as possible. Any stonewalling by this committee, its members, any witnesses or anyone else involved, must not be tolerated by the public. We all need to hold this committee accountable!
Although this is uncharted water for Utah, we cannot let our fear of the unfamiliar impede swift justice. Because I have faith in our system of government I also have faith in the committee formed by our elected house members. I have faith in the Speaker’s ability to put the best possible investigators, regardless of their “day job,” on this committee.
I encourage the speaker to swiftly appoint members to this committee and once that is complete, I encourage this committee to move swiftly and responsibly to its own conclusions.
-Ernie Gamonal, SLC
Democratic Volunteer and Supporter
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