As members of the Utah House of Representatives, our power originates with the people. As a body, it is our responsibility to be the intermediaries of a continual public process that holds the interests of our constituents above all else. As members of the legislative branch of our government, we have the constitutional authority and responsibility to hold fellow elected officials accountable.
It is for these reasons, and for others that have become increasingly apparent in recent weeks, that our caucus has determined it is time for the Utah House of Representatives to initiate an investigation regarding the alleged ethical indiscretions of John Swallow, prior to and after his election as Utah's attorney general.
As members of the House Democratic Caucus, we believe the body should take one of two courses of action: 1) Appoint a special investigative committee to review and evaluate the allegations against the attorney general to determine if impeachment proceedings should commence, or 2) formally begin impeachment proceedings by appointing a special impeachment committee to investigate and make recommendations to the House as a whole.
We do not come to this position lightly. During our May interim caucus meeting, open to all, we considered the potential for investigation, the processes involved, and the public resources that may be required. In the weeks that followed, we resolved that because the attorney general asserts that he is innocent of any wrongdoing and has declined to resign, we now believe the only reasonable course of action is to initiate a formal investigation.
We understand that this process may be a long and arduous one.
As such, we have refused to be hasty in reaching this decision. Candid and deliberative conversations with our constituents and within our caucus have informed our decision to move forward in an effort to restore the public's trust in their public servants.
Our constituents have counted on the House Democrats' multi-year track record of sponsoring rigorous good-governance legislation, and we intend to bolster that trust. We will continue to run bills related to reform so we foster an environment that doesn't encourage questionable behavior in the first place, and we will continue to demand greater accountability and integrity within our state and local governments. It is important for this process to have a lasting impact on Utah politics.
In order for this process to be effective, it must be bipartisan. It is imperative that we have the backing of our Republican colleagues. Quite frankly, it is impossible to continue forward without their support. Although we may not see eye-to-eye on the role of our government as a force for public interests, we must agree that it should not be a source of favors for private interests. We are not looking for the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but simply the right answer.
We must commit to earning the public's trust and respect, one day at a time, and we must start today.
Jennifer Seelig represents District 23 in the Utah House of Representatives, where she is the Democratic caucus leader.