The Utah Legislature recently fired an intern coordinator from working with legislative interns in the future due to an “unprofessional” email exchange with a now-former Republican lawmaker.
The email, which is from 2013, came to light after The Salt Lake Tribune filed a public records request.
A spokesperson for the legislature said Nathan Brady, a policy analyst, was removed from his responsibilities as internship coordinator after The Tribune in August requested records on legislative interns.
Those records included an exchange from 2013, when then-Rep. Paul Ray, a Clearfield Republican who served in the Utah House of Representatives from 2001 until December of 2021, responded to an email from then-intern coordinator Brady asking if Ray wanted his own — or a “dedicated” — intern.
“Dedicated please, is Miss Utah Available?” Ray asked on Dec. 17, 2013, around a month before the 2014 legislative session was to begin.
Brady responded, saying, “Ha ha ha . . . . not yet. I’ve been meeting with our interns and most of our female interns would not be mistaken for Miss Utah.”
“... don’t worry, I think I’ll be able to find you a good one,” Brady added.
In a statement provided to The Tribune on Friday afternoon, House Speaker Brad Wilson and Utah Senate President Stuart Adams said, “The Legislature strives to have an exemplary environment and does not condone inappropriate or unprofessional behavior. When we become aware of situations, we take them seriously and address them head-on.
“We recently were made aware of an email thread from 2013 between a former legislator and a current employee that contained unprofessional behavior through a records request. While the comments were made nearly a decade ago, disciplinary actions have been taken, and the employee has been removed from their responsibility as the intern coordinator,” the statement says.
Ray, the former lawmaker, stepped away from the Legislature to serve as the assistant director of legislative affairs for the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.
On Friday, Ray said that various Miss Utahs had come to the Legislature for several years in a row and would sit with him on the Utah House floor. “And each one of those that we had was extremely intelligent,” he said.
Ray continued, saying, “It was just kind of sarcasm. I was just like, hey, I’ll take her if she’s available. Because the impression that each one of them left on me was pretty dang good.”
He explained that a former legislative intern, who later went on to become Miss Utah, had also sat with him on the floor. Ray said the comment was made out of respect for her.
“The way you read it obviously doesn’t look good,” Ray told The Tribune. “But it was in no way meant that way at all.”
In a statement sent to The Tribune, DHHS said it “was recently made aware of the emails between our employee and the former legislative coordinator.
“There are no human resources investigations about the issue,” the statement continued. “Paul is a current employee of DHHS in good standing.”
Brady, who has worked as the intern coordinator off and on since 2013, will continue to work at the Legislature as a policy analyst.
The Tribune tried to reach Brady for comment on Friday through his legislative email and a social media account, but messages were not returned. Phone calls to multiple numbers listed on public records appear to now be disconnected.
Brady’s dismissal from overseeing internships comes a few weeks after Sonia Weglinski, a 2022 intern for Democratic Sen. Gene Davis who later worked as a staffer on his campaign, publicly accused the longtime lawmaker of inappropriately touching her on multiple occasions.
Weglinski said that while she was working as an intern at the Utah Capitol, Davis would put his arm around her waist and once started playing with her toes when she sat in a reclining chair in his office.
In early August, Weglinski told The Tribune that she hadn’t filed a complaint with the Legislature because she felt like she needed to share her story in her own words, without having it “filtered through” other parties. Adams announced on Aug. 5 that the Senate had initiated an independent investigation into the allegations.
Less than an hour after this story was initially published, the Utah House Democratic Caucus released a statement addressing the emails, saying, “As a caucus we are disturbed by the comments between the former representative and the OLRGC staff member who was tasked with managing the legislature’s internship program. The unprofessional banter was inexcusable then and remains distasteful now. It exposes a troubling culture in Utah that contributes to workplace harassment and the demeaning of women.
“The Utah Legislature would not function nearly as well if not for the incredible young people who serve as our interns every year. The Capitol should be a welcoming place for everyone to learn and grow. At the very least our interns deserve our sincere respect and complete professionalism as lawmakers,” the statement continued.
In their statement, Wilson and Adams said, “We aim to create a positive environment where people are treated with dignity and respect, and individuals can feel like they can come forward, raise concerns and know those concerns will be appropriately addressed. As a Legislature, we are committed to evaluating and improving training to help prevent future incidents and promote a professional work environment.”
Update • This story now includes a statement from the Utah House Democrats.
Note to readers • If you have an experience to share as an employee or intern in the Legislature, Tribune reporter Emily Anderson Stern can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, The Tribune wants to hear from you if you’ve worked at the Utah Legislature — whether as an intern, staffer, lobbyist or lawmaker — and have experienced or witnessed any kind of sexual misconduct.
Please fill out the survey below. If you’re comfortable with being interviewed about your responses, a reporter may reach out to hear more about your time working for the Legislature. Your response won’t be published unless we contact you and receive your permission.