Weiler works to close loophole brought to light by Swallow investigation

Feb 27 2013 - 1:24am

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Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross

SALT LAKE CITY -- A local lawmaker says all state employees should sing from the same songbook when it comes to employment opportunities outside their state position.

A bill to close a loophole limiting political appointees from doing outside consulting that would conflict with their state job cleared a Senate government operations committee Tuesday.

SB 83 is sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross. Weiler admits it is an investigation into the actions of Attorney General John Swallow that exposed the loophole. Swallow engaged in outside consulting work while a top deputy in the attorney general's office.

State career service employees are already limited from those potential conflicts in state law.

"This is exactly what it purports to be," Weiler said of the measure. "I was surprised to learn that employees in the same state agency are working side by side and living by a different set of rules."

He said the bill will level the playing field for all state employees.

Weiler acknowledges some state employees are underpaid and are forced to work at other jobs on weekends, but he said those jobs don't conflict with their regular jobs. He blasted those who have done political consulting and other kinds of work that conflict with their state responsibilities.

The bill moves to the Senate for further consideration. Weiler said he expects to make technical changes to some of the wording in the legislation as it is debated on the Senate floor.

Pressed on the legality of his bill, Weiler said he would prefer state executives not have outside work, but he said when there is a potential conflict of interest, he wants to close those loopholes.

Swallow has been linked to a deal by indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson to quash a federal investigation into a $350 million software scheme. Johnson claims Swallow set up a deal in 2010 for Johnson to pay $600,000 to people connected to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

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