Lyman sues over signatures gathered by Cox campaign

Posted at 9:34 AM, Jul 08, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Lyman has filed a lawsuit against Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson, demanding to see information of people who signed on to get Governor Spencer Cox on the GOP primary ballot.

The lawsuit, filed in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court late last week, suggests impropriety in the company the Cox-Henderson campaign had hired. That has been dismissed by the Davis County Clerk, who issued a statement declaring the signatures were valid upon inspection.

But the Lyman campaign wants to inspect those records and is suing to see them. Natalie Clawson, Lyman's Lt. Governor pick, filed a public records request for them.

"The LG’s Office partially granted and partially denied Plaintiffs’ GRAMA request. The LG’s Office produced a redacted version of the Signature Packets, with numerous names and other information about the signors redacted. In effect, the redacted Signature Packets preclude any other campaign or individual from challenging Signature Packets submitted by another candidate for state or local office. To ensure a fair and transparent process, this information must be disclosed to other candidates or political campaigns," Lyman campaign attorney Douglas Farr wrote.

Lyman overwhelmingly won the state Republican party convention in April, earning 67% of the delegate vote. Cox was booed and jeered by party hardliners and came in with 32% of the vote. But Utah law allows a candidate to gather signatures to earn a spot on the primary ballot. That's what the Cox-Henderson campaign did.

The lawsuit suggests improprieties and now the Lyman-Clawson campaign wants to see those signatures and voter information.

"Signature-gathering in Utah and elsewhere has been rife with issues of fraud, deception, and forgery, particularly due to monetary incentives where signature gatherers may be paid upwards of $15 per signature," Farr wrote in the court filing.

In 2020, the Utah State Legislature passed a law that allows for signatures on those packets to be considered "protected information." (Coincidentally, legislative voting records show, Lyman voted for that bill while serving in the Utah House of Representatives.)

Unofficial election results show the Cox-Henderson campaign won the primary by nearly 10% with Phil Lyman and his running mate, Natalie Clawson, receiving 193,476 votes to Spencer Cox and Deidre Henderson's 231,242. The official canvass is Tuesday, when ballots for races are certified in counties across the state.

The governor quickly responded to Lyman's lawsuit in a statement.

“Phil lost with Utah Republican voters, and it wasn’t close. He’s already lost once with a judge during this election cycle, and he’ll lose again with this lawsuit and the others he says he intends to file,” said Cox.

Court records show no request for an injunction had been filed as of Monday morning, nor had a judge scheduled a hearing. Lt. Governor Henderson's office declined to comment on the litigation.

Lyman previously sued after his first Lt. Governor pick, Layne Bangerter, was rejected because he did not meet the residency requirement under Utah law. A judge ruled against Lyman and Bangerter.

Read the lawsuit here: