Paul Rolly: More questions on Utah Legislature forgery
Besides the "whodunnit" suspense surrounding the alleged forgery of Utah Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham's name on a ballot initiative petition for an ethics reform law, unanswered questions include "who knew what" and "when did they know it."
Just a few days before a Supreme Court hearing on issues to determine whether signatures should be allowed to count to get the initiative on the ballot, the Utah Attorney General's Office filed a motion to have Durham recused because she had signed the petition.
Then, a couple of days later, David Irvine, a lawyer for the petitioners, Utahns for Ethical Government, says he was asked by a Provo Daily Herald reporter about Durham signing the petition. Those queries went away after Durham signed an affidavit stating that she did not sign the petition, and the query shifted from having her recused to who forged her name.
The Lieutenant Governor's Office found Durham's name while checking signatures against voter registration forms. But UEG advocates wonder how the Provo Daily Herald got wind of it about the same time as the A.G., then lost interest when it was deemed to be a forgery. Later, the forged electronic signature was traced to a member of the Utah House of Representatives.
And why did House Speaker Becky Lockhart, who clearly is making preliminary moves to run for governor in 2016, refuse to return my six voice messages and three text messages to her cellphone and my call to her receptionist at the House when I was first working on the forgery story that ran in my column May 31?
After all, Lockhart earlier had told me to call her any time.
The speaker, who represents a district in Provo, has had a cozy relationship with the Provo Daily Herald. She and other Utah County Republicans were treated favorably by that paper when they were under scrutiny for having a taxpayer-funded technical college build a float for the Utah County Republican Party for Provo's July 4 parade.
She later hired Daily Herald political reporter Joe Pyrah to be her House chief of staff when she was elected speaker.
Former Rep. David Clark, R-Santa Clara, was the House speaker in March of 2010 when the alleged forgery took place. But Lockhart was the speaker last summer when Durham's purported electronic signature was discovered.
The A.G.'s office initially began an investigation into the alleged forgery, but it eventually was turned over to the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office, and the FBI eventually joined on.
Members of the Republican majority in the Legislature were vociferous in their opposition to the efforts to get a comprehensive ethics reform law on the ballot. Lawmakers passed a bill in the middle of the petition drive that required more signatures than were required when the drive began.
And state attorneys engaged in heated legal battles with UEG over several issues to determine the legitimacy of many of the signatures.