Utah House Speaker Mike Schultz, who has made increasing trust in government a focus of his tenure as a legislative leader, is giving conflicting reasons for keeping his calendar of speaking engagements from the public after speaking at a Christian nationalist event last month.
While the Utah House of Representative staff claim Schultz’s calendar is not a public record, a response to an open records request from The Salt Lake Tribune seeking a copy of Schultz’s schedule now says the elected leader’s calendar does not exist.
In January, Schultz was a featured speaker at an event sponsored by “Patriot Academy,” a far-right group that offers “biblical citizenship” training programs that encourage the Christian nationalist belief that government should be run according to Christian values.
“Utah Speaker Mike Schultz will share his thoughts on Utah’s agenda to restore Constitutional Order,” a website about the event advertised.
The event, branded as “Just Say Know” — appearing to play on the Reagan-era “Just say no” campaign that encouraged kids to not use drugs — was hosted by Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, and former congressman Chris Stewart was also scheduled to speak.
Rick Green, who headlined the event, is a close ally of pseudo-historian David Barton, who, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, claims the authors of the U.S. Constitution did not intend for the separation of church and state and wanted to create an explicitly Christian country. Barton has held several speaking engagements in Utah and headlined a Constitution Day event last September.
When asked about his participation in the January event, Schultz said it was just one of many speaking engagements in which he has participated as a legislative leader.
“It’s no secret that I’m passionate about states’ rights and appreciate efforts made to push back on the federal government’s overreach,” Schultz said in a text message. “Rep. Ken Ivory invited me to speak on federalism and provide my perspective. I’m invited to speak at numerous events by countless of organizations each year and always appreciate the opportunity to share my insight.”
In response, The Tribune asked Schultz if he would share his calendar to show what other groups had asked him to speak. Schultz refused, instead offering a list of approximately a dozen recent public appearances, including a television interview.
Following that text exchange, The Tribune submitted an open records request under Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act — or GRAMA — seeking access to Schultz’s calendar events related to his public role as a legislator.
“The House of Representatives has no records that are responsive to your request,” they replied.
A few days before the claim, House Chief of Staff Abby Osborne requested a meeting with a Tribune reporter about the request for Schultz’s calendar. During that meeting, Osborne said that the speaker’s calendar “is not a public record.”
The Tribune has filed a formal appeal to the House’s decision to deny access to Schultz’s calendar.
Schultz’s refusal to not release his schedule comes as several news organizations, including The Tribune, seek to gain access to the calendar of embattled Attorney General Sean Reyes.
The Utah State Records Committee has ruled that the calendars of public officials are public records, but the A.G.’s office has disagreed. Despite that determination, Reyes’ office has continued to claim his schedule is not subject to Utah’s public records laws and has gone to court seeking to prevent its release.