GOVERNMENT

Group looking into Utah AG’s involvement in ‘bogus’ 2020 election lawsuit

Mar 9, 2022, 5:11 PM
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes speaks with legislators prior to Gov. Spencer Cox’s delivery of ...
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes speaks with legislators prior to Gov. Spencer Cox’s delivery of the 2022 State of the State address at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (Laura Seitz/Deseret News)
(Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A group called the 65 Project says Utah’s Attorney General, Sean Reyes, is among hundreds of lawyers it’s looking into for allegedly helping to peddle post-2020 election lawsuits that had no merit.

“We’re going to look not only in Sean Reyes’ involvement in the Texas litigation, but also his involvement in using himself and other members of his government staff to go to other states like Nevada and conduct what they consider to be audits, or to engage in false and bogus efforts to undermine the election in other states,” said Michael Teter, the 65 Project’s managing director. 

Teter actually worked for Reyes’ office for a time and is also a former University of Utah professor.

More Utah ties

Former Utah Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham has also signed on to the group’s board, who according to its website is trying to hold accountable “Big Lie Lawyers who bring fraudulent and malicious lawsuits to overturn legitimate election results and deter them from doing so in the future.”

“They [lawyers] can’t use fantasies and misstatements and downright lies and take them to court,” Durham said. “They have an ethical obligation to have a reasonable belief in the legitimacy of these claims.”

What we know about the amicus brief Sean Reyes signed

Reyes signed on to the Texas suit — which sought to throw out the election results in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia — in the month after the 2020 election. In December of that year, the Supreme Court dismissed the suit saying it doesn’t have a judicial interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections. 

At the time, Reyes said he signed on “because all Americans need clarity and confidence in our national elections.”

His decision drew criticism from then-Gov. Gary Herbert and then Gov.-Elect Spencer Cox. 

Other lawyers

And it’s not just attorneys general the group is looking into.

They have identified 111 lawyers across 26 states who signed onto lawsuits to overturn the 2020 elections. And they’ll mostly be focusing on cases in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  

“Included in that is the Texas v. Pennsylvania lawsuit and the way other public officials signed on to that and brought forth claims that were just as much fraudulent and bogus as the other litigation.”

Sean Reyes reaction

In a statement, Reyes office said this: 

“The office joined the Texas case because there were, and still remain, fundamental constitutional questions not answered by the Supreme Court, including who controls the time and place of voting and whether executive or judicial branches can nullify legislative authority and long-standing separation of powers doctrines. Our efforts stopped after the Supreme Court rejected the case.”

As for the Nevada trip, Reyes’ office maintains it “involved no office expenses or resources.”

Democratic ties

The 65 Project’s website says they are a “bipartisan effort to protect democracy from these abuses.”

Axios reports the group has ties to Democratic heavyweights like David Brock, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Paul Rosenzweig, and former senior Clinton administration official.

“The group has ties to democratic heavyweights, and republican heavyweights,” Teter said. “Even today we were reached out to and we’re going to be adding a republican member to our advisory board. This is truly a bipartisan effort.”

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Group looking into Utah AG’s involvement in ‘bogus’ 2020 election lawsuit