A.G. Sean Reyes’ must turn over his calendars to The Tribune, Utah records committee rules

Because of new law, elected officials’ calendars will be private going forward. The A.G.’s office is considering appealing the State Records Committee ruling in court.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes speaks during the Salt Lake County GOP convention in Murray on Saturday, April 13, 2024. Reyes' official calendars should be made public, the State Records Committee ruled on Thursday.

The State Records Committee has unanimously ruled that Attorney General Sean Reyes’ calendars are public records and should be provided to The Salt Lake Tribune — but due to a newly passed law, such records will be kept private in the future.

The Legislature changed Utah’s open records law in February, making elected officials’ calendars private, but The Tribune had requested three years of Reyes’ calendars in October — months before the Legislature revised the statute — and lawmakers did not make the change retroactive. As a result, the language in effect when the request was filed is the statute that applies.

That law clearly makes Reyes’ calendars public under a ruling in February by state Judge Patrick Corum in a separate case involving a request by KSL. The Legislature gave final passage to a bill making the records secret the same day as the ruling, and Gov. Spencer Cox signed it into law days later. It took effect upon his signature.

Reyes’ office is appealing the ruling in the KSL case and the parties agreed the records do not need to be released while the appeal is pending. A spokesman said Friday that the attorney general’s office is also considering an appeal of The Tribune’s win before the records committee.

While conceding during the Thursday hearing involving The Tribune that the law is not binding retroactively, attorneys for Reyes argued it provides guidance, indicating the Legislature never intended for calendars to be public records.

The committee disagreed and held that guidance given more than 30 years after the law was enacted does not supersede the text of the law and the judge’s ruling. But committee members also said that, going forward, official calendars will not be subject to public records requests.

The Tribune sought the records after reporting revealed that Reyes took numerous trips to Europe, Mexico and various U.S. states — including a trip to shoot feral hogs from a helicopter in Texas — paid for with campaign money. The official calendars were sought to add context to Reyes’ official, taxpayer-funded travel.

Also on Thursday, Corum scheduled a hearing on KSL’s motion to recover $88,630 in attorneys fees from the Attorney General’s office stemming from the failed legal challenge, a tally that could increase if the office pursues and loses further challenges and appeals.