The other day I posted on our Facebook page, “You’ve got to be freaking kidding!” I wrote the statement to go along with an article I posted that talked about the potential conflict of interest with the newly appointed legislative investigative committee chair. Let me recap.
After months of what seems like almost daily allegations against Attorney General John Swallow, the Legislature finally decided to convene an investigative committee. They could have voted to convene for impeachment proceedings, but they couldn’t quite find the fortitude, no doubt hoping one of the other many investigations will do their dirty work for them. After all, the Lt. Governor, Salt Lake and Davis County District Attorney’s, the FBI, and the Department of Justice are all investigating various aspects of the claims.
Once the House decided to form a 9-member committee, the responsibility fell to the Speaker, Becky Lockhart, to determine who would be on the committee. Much was made about the possible makeup with Democrats hoping for an even split (with the chair being a non-voting role), some Republicans wanted it to reflect the current split in the House which would make it a 7-2 Republican/Democratic split. The Speaker settled on a 5-4 split with power to decide on the assignments.
Exactly two weeks later, the House met again and the Speaker held a press conference announcing the nine members of the committee:
- Lowry Snow, Chair, R-Washington County
- Brad Dee, R-Ogden
- Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville
- Lee Perry, R-Perry
- Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork
- Jen Seelig, D-Salt Lake City
- Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City
- Lynn Hemingway, D-Salt Lake City
- Sue Duckworth, D-Magna
Great, right? All good. Committee in place, investigation can begin. Progress.
Not so fast there little voter.
One day after the announcement the Tribune broke the story that the new chair, Snow, had previously represented Jeremy Johnson, the man who is accusing Swallow of facilitating bribes. In fact, he had also somehow represented clients against Johnson. One would think he was the only attorney in St. George.
This is what is commonly referred to as a conflict of interest. And that’s where the voice started in:
YOU’VE GOT TO BE FREAKING KIDDING ME! Over and over again. Seriously. Can this clown car get any crazier?
Apparently (according to Snow) Speaker Lockhart didn’t think to ask any of the committee members if they had any potential conflicts. And while we’re at it, Snow didn’t bother mentioning it. It is not just a head scratcher, it actually makes you want to pull some hair out in frustration.
After several more days, Lockhart finally announced that she was removing Snow from the committee, naming Dunnigan as chair, and appointing Representative Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton to the committee.
All of this begs the question-is Speaker Lockhart really that ignorant to the realities and necessities of leadership in the midst of this type of scandal? Or, perhaps she isn’t ignorant but rather does not actually care whether or not the investigation is thorough and above board. All indications seem to point to her eventual run for Governor, but is this really the kind of leadership this state needs?
Speaker Lockhart–Willfully Negligent or Woefully Naive? Either way is a lose/lose for Utahns.