The public has no right to see Sean Reyes’ calendars, Utah A.G.’s office argues

The Salt Lake Tribune and KSL-TV have requested his official calendar be available to Utahns.

Lawyers for Utah’s attorney general argue that Sean Reyes’ calendar should not be released because the Legislature explicitly exempts calendars from the list of documents that the public is entitled to access under the state’s open records law.

The argument came in a filing Friday in a case in which KSL-TV requested Reyes’ official calendar for a three-month span. The attorney general’s office denied the request while the State Records Committee ruled that it should be released. The attorney general’s office is now suing the records committee and KSL-TV in an attempt to overturn the committee’s finding and keep his calendar from being made public.

The Salt Lake Tribune made a similar request in October for calendars dating back several years and was also denied. Last week, The Tribune filed a brief in support of KSL-TV, arguing that the calendar reflects Reyes’ official duties, is used by his executive staff to plan his official events and therefore is in the public’s interest to have access to it.

The attorney general’s office, in its argument submitted to the court last week, points to a section in Utah law that says “a daily calendar or other personal note prepared by the originator for the originator’s personal use” is not considered a record subject to public release under the state’s Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA).

“The distinction between what is a record and what is not a record cannot be ignored,” Assistant Attorney General Vanessa Walsh wrote in the brief. “The Legislature has exempted daily calendars from GRAMA. Because they are not records subject to disclosure at all, they are not ‘kept secret’ from the public.”

The solution, if the news media objects, is to persuade the Legislature to change the law, Walsh contends.

While both KSL and The Tribune argue personal appointments should be redacted, Reyes’ calendar entries that relate to the public’s business or meetings in an official capacity should be available to the public.

The Tribune also asked the attorney general’s office Friday if Reyes would be willing to make his calendar available voluntarily but have not received a response.

Based on Reyes’ campaign finance disclosures, The Tribune identified at least 30 trips — many to luxury resorts in the United States, Europe and Mexico — taken by the attorney general between his reelection win in November 2020 through December 2022. That includes an expedition where Reyes and guests shot feral hogs from a helicopter in Texas.

The Tribune is seeking the official calendar to get a fuller picture of travel done outside of the campaign setting.

The Utah Legislature also launched an audit last month that, in part, will look at travel within the attorney general’s office.