When Gov. Herbert appointed sometime political blogger Holly Richardson to the Utah State Records Committee — the entity that hears appeals of public records denied under GRAMA — one might have thought we were getting a knowledgeable veteran thoroughly versed in the operations of government.
After all, Richardson had served as a member of the Utah House of Representatives for Pleasant Grove and other northern Utah County communities. She voted to gut GRAMA with HB477, later backtracking and voting for repeal. She served on the governor’s GRAMA task force last year, a blue-ribbon talk-a-thon that churned up every imaginable GRAMA issue, including the functions of the State Records Committee. After that, she ran Dan Liljenquist’s campaign for U.S. Senate.
You’d think that with all that inside experience, combined with years of political blogging, Richardson would be an expert in government organization and process. And you’d think she’d be quite familiar with the body to which she was being appointed, including the statutory moment at which she could legally begin to function. But no. She jumped the gun. After being named by Herbert, Richardson immediately took a seat, participating in a hearing and voting. Her confirmation hearing isn’t until mid-October.
Only three of the committee's seven members are exempt from Senate confirmation, and only because they are current state officials (or designees). Richardson would have known this had she simply read the statute. Confirmation is required for one citizen, one elected official representing a political subdivision, one news media person and one person from the private sector whose profession requires him to create or manage records that if created by a governmental entity would be private or controlled. Richardson is the appointed citizen member.
Richardson’s misunderstanding of process reminds me of Alexander Haig, who was U.S. secretary of state when President Reagan was shot. Haig didn’t know the process either. During the crisis of the assassination attempt, when it was not known whether Reagan would survive, Haig stepped up to reassure the American people that “I am in control here.” “Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the president, the vice president and the secretary of state in that order ...” Wrong. After vice president comes the speaker of the House. Or maybe Holly Richardson.