Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Walker Ethics Probe Moves to Full Committee Inquiry

Ethics committee co-chairs elect to conduct a "full panel preliminary inquiry"

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the House Ethics Committee has taken the first procedural step in the ethics investigation which we discussed on Friday: "Walker Remains in the Hotseat: Criminal and Ethics Investigations Pending." From this morning's Dan Harrie story:
The leaders of the Utah House Ethics Committee have decided to hold a meeting of the full panel to consider allegations of elections-law violations against Rep. Mark Walker.
The Ethics co-chairs will convene a public meeting of the committee next Monday to consider allegations that Walker offered his rival in the state treasurer's race a job and big pay increase if he would withdraw his candidacy.
"The eight members will review the complaint and see if there is enough information to move forward," said Rep. Todd Kiser, R-Sandy.
And for some strange reason, we were not at all surprised by this:
If they [the full 8 member comittee] decide to proceed into a preliminary inquiry, they will go into closed session, in accord with legislative rules, Kiser said.
We spoke this morning however with one of our informed and trusted sources on the hill, who assures us the closed session rule will be confined to the "preliminary inquiry" only, and, assuming that the committee finds sufficient evidence of ethical misconduct on Rep. Walker's part to support further investigation, all subsequent proceedings would occur in full public view, under applicable House rules.

In view of the considerable array of incriminating information in this matter which has already been revealed in the public press, we find it difficult to imagine how the committee could do anything other than to proceed with a full investigation.

We'll be keeping our skeptical eyes peeled on this however, and will post updates and developments here as this matter progresses.


Curmudgeon said...

Republicans turning on each other and devouring each other is always fun to watch. But I'm wondering this: are the establishment Republicans [the governor, the AG, the Lt. Gov, the legislative leaders] so ticked off at Ellis that they will sink his bid for the Treasurer's job, and prefer to see the office in the hands of a Democrat than a Renegade Republican who will not bend his knee and tug his forelock on command of Curtis/Bramble/Huntsman et al.?

OgdenLover said...

"...we find it difficult to imagine how the committee could do anything other than to proceed with a full investigation.

Rudi, this is UTAH, where the depth of not caring about (or not understanding) corruption seems to know no bounds.

RudiZink said...

Ogden Lover:

Walker is dirty as hell in this matter. And it isn't a simple "he said/she said" that's often potrayed here.

The press has reported that Zions's Bank's intermediary Empey sent emails back and forth during the "negotiations" between Walker and Ellis, which we're told from the media, corroborates Ellis's version of the facts.

The question will come up after a proper investigation, whether Ellis and his agents (Empey possibly included) "solicited a bribe," (as Walker seems to now contend) which is also a violation of the Utah Criminal code.

The whole deal will shake out publicly, whether within the House Ethics committe... or in the press.

Once again, Ogden Lover, I don't see any way this story can be "buried" by the House Ethics Committee. It's WAY too public for that.

It's in the public forefront; and the committee will be forced to deal with it publicly.

That's my take, and I'm stickin to it.

Keisha said...

Does anybody know which House legislators comprise the "Ethics Committee?

Maybe we could launch an email campaign.


let the people speak said...

Here is the committee members.

Rep. Todd E. Kiser, Co Chair
Rep. LaWanna Lou Shurtliff, Co Chair
Rep. Douglas C. Aagard
Rep. Stephen D. Clark
Rep. David Litvack
Rep. Karen W. Morgan
Rep. Carol Spackman Moss
Rep. Merlynn T. Newbold

just the facts, mamm said...

Why is Brad Dee and Chief Senator Grenier in the legislature?

Does anyone even care about such constitutional limits anymore?

Here is another great one for you:

Article V, Section 1. [Three departments of government.]
The powers of the government of the State of Utah shall be divided into three distinct departments, the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial; and no person charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments, shall exercise any functions appertaining to either of the others, except in the cases herein expressly directed or permitted.

So why is it that we have government school teachers, police officers, and other executive branch employees being allowed to serve in the legislature?

In all seriousness, you raise a very interesting point and I'll have to do some research to see exactly what Article VI, Section 7 means. I doubt it means to bar legislators for life from any position where they may have voted for a routine salary increase. But it does appear to impose some limit on eligibility.

Have you raised this issue with the Lt. Governor's office?

Curmudgeon said...

Just the Facts:

Counting school teachers or policemen as "executive branch employees" seems to me to be stretching the definition of "executive branch" well beyond the breaking point. Teachers aren't hired in any case by the Utah Department of Education. They're hired by individual local school districts, just as most policemen are hired by local municipalities. [You may have a good point in re: state police though, like the Utah Highway Patrol and state prison employees.]

If you're arguing instead some kind of conflict of interest standard... that teachers should not serve in the legislature because they'd be voting on pay raises for teachers and money for education in general... you'd have to apply it to legislators as well [who vote for their own pay raises], and to any business man... oh, say a realtor or developer or construction company owner or employee... who would, as a legislator, be voting on matters that may directly benefit his bottom line. I'm hard put to think of anyone in business in Utah who is not potentially so affected by legislative actions.

Applying that strict a "conflict of interest" standard would eliminate very nearly everyone from serving in the state legislature.

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