Legislator from Perry hits another recall roadblock

Jun 21 2013 - 12:03am

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Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry
Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Top of Utah legislator will pull back from his effort to create a process for recall elections in Utah, which could relieve embattled Brigham City Mayor Dennis Fife and even Attorney General John Swallow.

Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, has been pushing legislation to create a recall process for the Beehive State.

He was unable to get a bill out of legislative review in time for the 2013 regular session and ran into another roadblock Wednesday during an interim meeting, when his bill failed to gain any support in committee, from either Republicans or Democrats.

The Republican lawmaker said there was concern on the committee that a recall election could be too easily hijacked by a group or organization.

Perry still believes there is a place for recalls in the state process but said his bill as written is not worth pursuing. Utah currently lacks any kind of recall election process.

Perry's latest recall effort came on the same day the House Republican caucus voted to initiate a process against Swallow in which the House will set up a review committee with power to call witnesses and issue subpoenas.

It also comes days after Fife was accused of assault after he allegedly grabbed the arm of Councilwoman Ruth Jensen during a Box Elder County Commission meeting.

Fife went public Dec. 3 about an extramarital affair, asking for forgiveness from residents as part of his repentance process of the past seven months. He announced plans to stay on as mayor, although some members of the Brigham City Council advised against it.

State law does include a formal impeachment-style process through the district court if an elected official or judge is charged with criminal behavior, but Perry said the state in 2000 took away the ability of cities and counties to initiate impeachment processes.

He wonders if it might be time to look at restoring that power.

Perry has been careful to avoid expressing publicly a view as to whether Fife should be recalled, but he has admitted that the recall effort is being pushed at the behest of his constituents in the Box Elder community.

He also said the House is taking the right steps in dealing with the pending charges against Swallow. He echoed some concerns about the potential costs of investigating Swallow but said it's important to restore public trust.

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