Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has thrown his support behind a U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s election loss.
Reyes joined 16 other attorneys general Wednesday in endorsing the Texas petition that seeks to invalidate the election results in four battleground states captured by President-elect Joe Biden. In a prepared statement, the Utah Republican and staunch Trump ally said his legal action is about ensuring faith in the electoral process and not about any one candidate or contest.
“If the election was fair, the Supreme Court should say so. If not, it should say that,” Reyes said. “Either way, it should say something and not avoid the question. That is the only way to settle the constitutional question facing us today and for future generations and elections.”
The petition filed Tuesday by Texas’ attorney general alleges there were “unlawful election results” and “significant and unconstitutional irregularities” in the voting process in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Biden captured all four of these states.
In a joint statement Wednesday evening, Gov. Gary Herbert and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who will become Utah governor in January, distanced themselves from Reyes’ action.
“The Attorney General did not consult us before signing on to this brief, so we don’t know what his motivation is. Just as we would not want other states challenging Utah’s election results, we do not think we should intervene in other states’ elections,” they said. “Candidates who wish to challenge election results have access to the courts without our involvement. This is an unwise use of taxpayers’ money.”
Reyes’ brief supporting the lawsuit drew swift condemnation from the Alliance for a Better Utah, a left-leaning good government group that characterized the court action as a “final desperate Hail Mary in an attempt to maintain party control at the expense of the people.”
“Sean Reyes’ partisan backflips continue to show that he is unfit to be Utah’s chief law enforcement officer,” Chase Thomas, the alliance’s executive director, said in a news release. “Utah leaders from all political parties should condemn his actions on behalf of our state.”
Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, also rebuked the attorney general and a tweet from Reyes’ office suggesting that Utah supported the election challenge.
“I try to be a bridge-builder, but let’s be clear here, @SeanReyesUT is behaving like an idiot. He is embarrassing Utah by pursuing this lunacy,” Williams wrote on Twitter. “No, Utah is NOT seeking to overturn the election. SEAN REYES is. And he won’t do it in our name.”
In an emailed statement, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said, “I am disheartened to see that Attorney General Sean Reyes continues to politicize an election that has now been decided for weeks. Right now is an opportunity for us to work together, across party lines to address issues of real concern. Our health systems are in crisis, so many lives have been lost, and our community is shaken. The last thing we need is more gamesmanship and manipulation from elected officials using public resources to perpetuate partisan schemes. We have all had enough.”
The election has long been called for Biden, and Trump’s legal attempts to overturn the results have failed to gain traction as the clock ticks down to Dec. 14, when members of the Electoral College are scheduled to cast their votes for president.
But the brief endorsed by Reyes asserts that the Texas petition “raises serious concerns about both the constitutionality and ballot security of election procedures” in the four targeted states and questioned the safety of vote-by-mail — echoing Trump’s persistent efforts to cast doubt on the voting method.
“Given the importance of public confidence in American elections, these allegations raise questions of great public importance that warrant this Court’s expedited review,” the Republican attorneys general continued.
In his prepared comments, Reyes expressed no qualms about the election system in Utah, a state that went for Trump and where residents have been voting by mail for years.
“This case is not about the propriety of Utah elections. I have great confidence in the bipartisan work to assure fair and reliable elections in our state,” he said. “Rather, we join this amicus because of questions about process and constitutional integrity that need to be answered nationally.”
Reyes has already spent time looking for election problems in Nevada, another battleground state won by Biden. The attorney general volunteered a weekend in Utah’s neighboring state in November to help Trump’s campaign investigate and asserted, without pointing to any evidence, that the group found “evidence of voting irregularities.”
Afterward, Reyes said he would continue investing his personal time and money to “make sure claims are brought as quickly and accurately” in Nevada and any other state.
Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford later blasted Reyes for casting doubt on that state’s elections and told him to “mind his business.” Ford, a Democrat, noted that no evidence of voter fraud had emerged in his state and said Reyes had not returned his phone calls or texts, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Reyes recently served as co-chair of Trump’s reelection effort in Utah and spoke at this year’s Republican National Convention, where he called the president a “warrior against human trafficking,” the attorney general’s signature issue.