Mon July 15, 2013
Utah House Democrats Unsure of Role in Special Investigative Committee
House Speaker Becky Lockhart says she will announce on Wednesday the names of the people she’s appointed to the special investigative committee of Utah Attorney General John Swallow. In the meantime, Utah House Democrats are left waiting anxiously to see what kind of role, if any, they’ll play in the investigation.
When the House met a few weeks ago to officially create the special investigative committee they defeated several attempts from House Democrats to require the body to consist of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats. In the end, the House ultimately voted to give Speaker Becky Lockhart the authority to choose the makeup of the nine-member committee. That means she could technically choose nine Republicans, although she has said that she won’t. House Minority Leader Jennifer Seelig was among those pushing for the committee to be split evenly. She says at this point even a 5-4 split would be fair.
“But ultimately, we must remember that in order to make sure that we appear, and that people have the confidence that the decisions that we are making are based on fact and not politically motivated, that party affiliations, that variable, needs to be canceled out,” she says.
Seelig also says she’s spoken to speaker Lockhart and while she doesn’t know how many democrats will be assigned, she feels confident the speaker will do what’s in the best interest of the body.
“I have had a great working experience with this particular speaker," she says. "I believe that her ultimate goal is to maintain the integrity of the house. It is my expectation that we will have a fair committee.”
Governor Gary Herbert has also called a special legislative session beginning Wednesday to allow lawmakers to make legal changes to allow the special investigative committee to subpoena witnesses, grant immunity, and close their meetings under certain circumstances.