Utah lawmaker files resolution to impeach Attorney General Sean Reyes

Sean Reyes during a June, 2020 debate. [Media pool | The Salt Lake Tribune]

(KCPW News) A Democratic state lawmaker has opened a bill file to impeach Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, citing Reyes’s efforts to challenge the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election and his involvement with the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which encouraged people to march to the U.S. Capitol in advance of the storming of that building on January 6th.

On Twitter, Rep. Andrew Stoddard said his filing was in response to Reyes’s “ties to RAGA and their involvement in the domestic terror attack on our Nation’s Capitol [and] his work to undermine our election process and results.”

RAGA faced criticism after it was revealed that an arm of the association sent out robocalls encouraging people to march to the U.S. Capitol the same day a mob loyal to President Donald Trump overpowered law enforcement and stormed the building.

Reyes is an active member of RAGA and was, until November 2020, chairman of the association’s Rule of Law Defense Fund, which issued the robocalls.

Earlier this month, Reyes released a statement saying he was not involved in organizing the rally in Washington, D.C.  and condemning “all acts of lawlessness and violence at the Capitol Building.”

In December, Reyes was one of seventeen Republican attorneys general who filed a friend-of the-court brief in support of a lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate Electoral College Votes in four battleground states where President Trump lost. The suit, by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, claimed that pandemic-related changes to election procedures in four states violated federal law.

Before and after the election, Trump repeatedly made unsupported claims of election fraud. The Texas suit was seen by legal analysts as a last-ditch effort to change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. The high court ultimately rejected the suit.

At the time, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and then Governor-elect Spencer Cox issued a statement rebuking Reyes’s actions.

“Just as we would not want other states challenging Utah’s election results, we do not think we should intervene in other states’ elections,” read a joint release from Herbert and Cox.

“This is an unwise use of taxpayers’ money,” the statement concluded.

In November, Reyes also took personal time off to join Trump’s legal challenges to the outcome of the vote Nevada.

Rep. Stoddard said that as an attorney and public officer, Reyes “has violated his duty to the state” and that the current effort was the “best way to investigate” whether Reyes’s actions are worthy of impeachment.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Attorney General Reyes Rep. called Stoddard’s filing “drastic.”

“Impeachment is a drastic measure, especially if, as Representative Stoddard says, he is simply looking for answers to his questions,” Reyes said.

“If I had questions regarding his bill, I wouldn’t send a subpoena, I’d make an appointment with him. My door is always open.”

For his part, Stoddard said that lawmakers’ procedures for investigation are limited.

“As a member of the legislature, our options for investigation of another branch of government are GRAMA (open records) requests or impeachment,” Stoddard said.

“There is no middle ground.”

Utah Code allows members of the House of Representatives to file a resolution of impeachment against public officers for “high crimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office.” At least two thirds of that body must vote for impeachment for the measure to succeed.