Special session called in connection with Swallow investigation

Posted at 5:22 PM, Jul 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-13 00:03:11-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Governor Gary Herbert has called a special legislative session to deal with the Utah House of Representatives' pending investigation into Utah Attorney General John Swallow.

The July 17 special session was called at the request of the Speaker of the House to look at some legal issues they may face going forward with an investigation into Swallow's conduct.

"You voted to create an investigative committee, and in order for that investigation to be successful, there are a couple of things that need to be addressed in statute," Rep. Rebecca Lockhart, R-Provo, said in an email to lawmakers.

House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, is running the bills to make changes to the law. One grants the committee power to issue subpoenas and grant immunity to those who may testify.

"As they come in to testify, there may be some that would require immunity for the testimony they give to us," Dee told FOX 13 on Friday. "Obviously, we can't give immunity for federal statutes but we can do some things at a state level."

Another would give the committee the authority to close some portions of its meetings. In her email, Speaker Lockhart said that she had consulted with attorneys representing the news media about the closures, who had concurred with the suggested law changes.

"For the most part, we've committed to have much of this committee be an open process," Dee said. "The public, as well as the media can have the opportunity to see what we're doing and watch the investigation as it proceeds. But as with any personnel matter, the statutes allow us to declare portions of that meeting private."

In a statement, Utah Democratic Party Executive Director Matt Lyon demanded transparency.

"Utah Democrats hope that the changes that will be made next Wednesday to our open meeting laws will not create loopholes that allow the investigation to occur in the backrooms of the Republican caucus," he wrote.