(KCPW News) Two Republicans in the Utah House have joined three Democrats in filing an ethics complaint that won't likely earn them any brownie points from Republican leadership. Representative Steve Mascaro wants the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether Mark Walker offered his rival, Richard Ellis, a raise to drop out of the treasurer's race.
"I guess the adage is, if there's smoke, there very well may be fire, and we felt a very real sense of responsibility to find out, to clear the question, to see if there is," said Mascaro. "If there isn't, hey, that's fine, we just move on, but in the meantime, we feel like there's an obligation to find out if there is a problem there."
The group is asking for a special prosecutor to investigate. Mascaro says he wants the public to know there will be no conflicts of interest, given that Republican leadership endorsed Walker in the race. He says he made sure the complaint was not filed before the primary in order to avoid influencing the election.
Democrat Neil Hansen, who joined in the complaint, says his chief concern is: if Walker offered his rival a raise, who in the legislature would have helped him secure that appropriation?
"My question is, who did he talk to, to be able to substantiate the raise that he would give Mr. Ellis should he have dropped out of the race?" said Hansen. "I think there's some collusion to the whole issue that's at hand, and I think we need to get to the bottom of who that person is, or persons, and find out exactly all the truth of the matter of this issue."
Walker did not return a call for comment today but previously denied that he ever offered Ellis a raise. He told the Deseret News that this complaint is a political cheap shot. Hansen and Mascaro were joined by Republican Sheryl Allen and Democrats Roz McGee and Phil Riesen in filing the complaint Wednesday.