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Qatari government paid for Utah Attorney General trip to World Cup

Posted at 4:46 PM, Dec 02, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes was in Qatar watching the United States play England last week. The ticket, airfare, and lodging were all paid for by the Qatari government.

Reyes left the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and returned on Sunday.

The trip was not part of Reyes' official duties as Utah Attorney General.

Qatar paid for the trip because Reyes had been helping the middle eastern country with cyber security and human trafficking prevention surrounding the World Cup, according to Alan Crooks -- a general consultant for Reyes.

Crooks said Reyes' involvement began approximately one year ago, when Reyes first met with the Qatari government at Stanford University. He said Qatar started the conversation by approaching a group that includes attorneys general across the United States for guidance. Other countries also provided advice to Qatar.

"It makes him a better Attorney General," Crooks said. "You give to some, and some people give to you... Sean is very hopeful that his help allowed them to identify things that, maybe, possibly, it will help save some people who went through human trafficking."

Crooks did not give specifics on the type of guidance Reyes provided to Qatar.

"He tried to treat them with respect, even though he doesn't agree with the way they do some things over there," Crooks said. "They took him around, showed him how they did security, and thanked him for his help. It was good for Sean. He was also able to learn some of the other things they did for security that other countries had taught them."

Crooks said Qatar did not pay airfare for Reyes' wife.

The expensive gift has now raised ethical questions.

Former Utah Attorney General Paul Van Dam, who held the position from 1989 to 1993, said the topic of receiving gifts is "very delicate and very touchy," especially because the position makes it very easy for some to "joyride."

"I think it's important that (Reyes' guidance) is a fact," Van Dam said. "I wouldn't have done it... If you're going to go to some exotic place, and they're going to pay for it, you better be prepared to be criticized."

"You certainly don’t want to be viewed as somebody who’s doing your job because you’re being rewarded outside of your pay," he continued. "You’re doing the people’s business 24 hours a day, whether you like that or not."

This is not the first time Reyes has stepped outside of his official position to engage with other governments.

In 2020, Reyes urged the federal government to acquit President Donald Trump. Reyes is also accused of using his position to amplify false claims about the 2020 election.

"He went to investigate whether there was anything wrong," Crooks said. "If there was something wrong in another state, that would protect the votes of Utahns."

"I don't think he's out to just have a good time with his job, that's not his record," Van Dam said, "but it's a little bit hard to understand why he'd be interested in (Qatar) quite frankly."

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