The House Special Investigative committee of Utah Attorney General John Swallow held their first meeting today and received a general overview their new responsibilities.
Members of the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel briefed the nine member special investigative committee on several topics including what the process will look like, and how much it could potentially cost. Legislative General Counsel John Fellows says the investigative process will begin once the outside special counsel is selected this Friday. The special counsel will then begin collecting documents such as emails, notes, and audio recordings. After those are collected, the committee will be able to begin questioning witnesses. Fellows then warned the committee that the document collecting step will take longer than they expect.
“It’s not unreasonable for example, and you might all shudder at this, but it’s not unreasonable to think that we might not be prepared to call witnesses until November or December,” he says.
Fellows also says that timeline is a best-case scenario.
“Whatever schedule we adopt, whatever plan we have can be all thrown topsy-turvy if someone files a lawsuit,” he says.
A longer investigation would also lead to a larger price tag. Fellows estimates that it could cost as much as $3 million dollars, if not more. Representative Jim Dunnigan is the committee’s chair. He says they won’t be putting a cap on their spending but that they are well aware of where the money is coming from.
“We are very cognizant of the fact that we are using taxpayer dollars to fund and operate this committee and we want to be very judicious with those dollars and have good accountability,” he says.
The committee will hold their next meeting in three to four weeks.