Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to be investigated for role in attempts to overturn 2020 presidential election

The 65 Project, a newly created dark money group, is going after more than 100 lawyers that participated in lawsuits attempting to invalidate the election, according to reporting done by Axios.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes speaks in his office in July 2021.

As part of a crusade to hold lawyers accountable for trying to overturn the 2020 U.S. presidential election, a newly formed “bipartisan” group is planning to investigate the conduct of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, according to an editorial in The Washington Post.

“As part of that,” Michael Teter, the managing director of The 65 Project, told The Post, “we’re considering filing open records requests to see if state resources were expended to go into other states and look for ‘voter fraud.’”

The 65 Project, named for the number of lawsuits that sought to overturn the 2020 election, has ties to “Democratic Party heavyweights,” according to reporting done by Axios. The dark money group is purportedly ready to spend $2.5 million this year going after 111 attorneys in 26 states, the report said.

Following the 2020 election, Reyes took time off and traveled to Nevada to investigate supposed voting issues and joined a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton attempting to invalidate the election results in four battleground states, all of which were won by President Joe Biden.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected that case in late 2020.

At the time, then-Gov. Gary Herbert and Gov.-elect Spencer Cox condemned Reyes’ move as an “unwise” use of taxpayer resources. Herbert also said he had been caught unawares by the attorney general’s actions.

In Utah, the attorney general is an elected position, unlike in other states where the role is appointed by the governor.

“He gets to make those decisions,” Cox said in Dec. 2020. “In Utah, that’s the way it works. He doesn’t work for me; he doesn’t work for the governor. He’s independently elected and he gets to make those decisions. And I know there are a lot of people that support what he’s doing in inserting himself.”

A Utah bill that would have added additional oversight and restrictions to the attorney general’s power failed to pass out of committee in the State Legislature in 2021, and Democratic State Rep. Andrew Stoddard launched an impeachment probe against Reyes earlier that same year.

“Utah’s Attorney General, Sean Reyes, has worked shamelessly over the past few months to undermine our country’s election results,” Stoddard wrote in a statement at the time. “As an attorney and a public officer, he has violated his duty to the State.”

After his trip to Nevada, Reyes said he would continue his investigations outside of Utah on his personal time and without using taxpayers’ dollars.

Reyes did not immediately respond to The Salt Lake Tribune’s request for comment.

Besides filing complainants meant to expose and even disbar individuals who attempted to overturn the election, The 65 Project will also petition the American Bar Association and state bar associations to establish new rules that would prohibit certain election challenges, according to the Axios article.

Tribune reporters Bethany Rodgers and Bryan Schott contributed to this report.

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