Lawsuit filed against Utah over special election to replace Chaffetz

Posted at 8:10 AM, Jun 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-21 15:16:01-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A would-be candidate who wants to be on the ballot to replace resigning Congressman Jason Chaffetz has filed a lawsuit against the state.

The United Utah Party sued Lt. Governor Spencer Cox over Jim Bennett being blocked from being a “provisional” candidate while it waits certification as a political party from the Utah State Elections Office.

United Utah Party Chairman Richard Davis (left) and 3rd Congressional District candidate Jim Bennett outside federal court. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

“Not only has the Utah Elections Office refused to allow Bennett to file, it also has not yet certified the party itself, despite the fact that the United Utah Party party submitted the necessary documentation and signatures to become a qualified political party with the Utah Elections Office more than three weeks ago,” the party said in a statement to FOX 13 on Wednesday.

The United Utah Party complains that Third Congressional District candidates John Curtis and Tanner Ainge were certified quickly.

Speaking to reporters outside the federal courthouse on Wednesday morning, Bennett questioned why the Utah Lt. Governor’s Office was taking so long to certify his party.

“What are they afraid of?” he asked.

They acknowledged the law gave the state 30 days to certify, but party chairman Richard Davis said they were asking the judge to put Bennett’s name on the ballot under the United Utah Party. The party was seeking an emergency restraining order to force that to happen.

This is the second lawsuit to be filed over the special election to replace Chaffetz, who quits on June 30. He has said he is having a bit of a “mid-life crisis,” and wanting to spend more time with his family. He has also been rumored to be considering a job with the FOX News Channel.

On Tuesday, the House Speaker and House Minority Leader held a joint meeting to blast Governor Gary Herbert over the process for the special election, arguing he overstepped his authority.

Read the legal filing here: