Lawsuit seeks records tying Utah's Sean Reyes to GOP group
By MICHELLE L. PRICE
Jul. 18, 2017
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A left-leaning advocacy group has filed a lawsuit against Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes that seeks documents from his office detailing his ties to one of his chief political donors, the Republican Attorney Generals Association.
The Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy said Tuesday that it filed a lawsuit in Utah against Reyes' office. The lawsuit filed Monday seeks emails and other documents about the Republican official's dealings with the Republican attorneys general group and its partner organization, the Rule of Law Defense Fund.
The Republican Attorneys General Association, which has given more than $250,000 to Reyes' campaign since 2015, has come under scrutiny from newspapers and watchdog groups in the past for taking money from corporate sponsors to pay for attorneys general to attend conferences at resorts in Michigan, Miami and California and other locations. Lawyers representing clients under investigation by various state attorneys general use the conferences to socialize with elected officials.
Center for Media and Democracy said it filed a public records request with Reyes' office in March and received 19 documents in response. But the group says it was not given records related to more than a dozen interactions that the group knew Reyes and his staff had had with the attorneys general group, including their attendance at several conferences and a fundraising ski summit offering private meetings with Reyes.
Reyes' office said it had released all records required under the request and the additional interactions involved "unofficial political/campaign activities that were not conducted within the office," according to court documents.
David Reymann, a Salt Lake City lawyer representing the Center for Media and Democracy in the lawsuit, said in a statement that "the public has a right to know what special interests are seeking to influence our state's top law enforcement officer, and whether they have been successful."
Reyes' spokeswoman Missy Larsen said in an emailed statement Tuesday that the office disagrees with "politically-motivated lawsuits and press releases" but does not comment on open cases.
A message seeking comment from the Republican Attorneys General Association was not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.
The Center for Media and Democracy had filed a similar lawsuit in Oklahoma to get records of Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt's communications with energy companies while he served as that state's attorney general. The Oklahoma attorney general's office released the records in February, following a judge's order to do so.