The Utah House unanimously passed and sent to the governor Wednesday legislation aimed at preventing conflicts of interest in investigations of election misdeeds.
SB11, which sprung from the scandal leading to the resignation of former Attorney General John Swallow, would prevent officials accused of election violations from investigating the charges themselves or taking on other probes that present a conflict of interest. The legislation also outlines how such an investigation would proceed and what happens if any wrongdoing is found.
The bill is similar to a measure lawmakers passed in 2013 in response to the allegations of campaign-disclosure violations against the then-attorney general.
“It became clear to us that there was a problem with filing complaints dealing with those alleged violations because the individual who would be investigating those allegations of wrongdoing on behalf of the attorney general was the attorney general,” said bill sponsor Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City.
The legislation also sets out the process by which a voter can file complaints of elections violations as well as defines a “significant” election violation. King said it is important that allegations have substance beyond “just a ticky-tack violation of an aspect of the elections code that is easily going to trip up just about anybody.”
The Senate previously approved the measure unanimously. .