Gov. Gary Herbert has called the Legislature into a special session this upcoming Wednesday to address some technical issues with the newly created House committee that is to investigate Attorney General John Swallow.
On Friday, Herbert issued the call for the Legislature to meet in the session to make sure the committee has subpoena and immunity granting abilities as it moves forward with its investigation -- as was originally intended when the committee was created. The second change addresses the committee's compliance to Utah's open meetings act. The Legislature would like to make certain the committee has exemptions in Utah's law to be able to properly conduct interviews and gather information as is done in other investigations.
House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said in a letter to House members on Friday that the House has worked closely with the Utah Media Coalition, the Utah Press Association and longtime open records attorneys to craft the open records amendments being proposed. She noted the groups helped craft the bill and are in full agreement with the proposal.
Lockhart also said the changes will ensure the committee has all the tools needed to conduct a thorough and fair investigation of the allegations surrounding Swallow.
"You voted to create an investigative committee, and in order for that investigation to be successful, there are a couple of things that need to be addressed in statute," said Lockhart in the letter.
One additional tweak that will be addressed is changing state law so the committee can use out-of-state counsel if needed while conducting their investigation. House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, will sponsor the legislation in the House, a senate sponsor was not named for the legislation.
The special session will not come at an additional cost to taxpayers as lawmakers will already be on Capitol Hill next week for their July interim meetings. Members of the committee are expected to be announced by Lockhart on that same day.
House members called themselves into a special House Rules session on July 3 to create the committee that is to investigate Swallow. The committee has no power to suggest impeachment of the embattled attorney general and is only to investigate and find the facts about the allegations surrounding him.
Swallow is currently under investigation from the federal government, the Lt. Governor's office, two county attorneys and the Utah State Bar for various accusations. Swallow has questioned the credibility of those making the accusations against him and maintains that he is innocent of any wrongdoing.