Salt Lake Tribune Wins Records Fight With Attorney General's Office
The Utah State Records Committee has ruled in favor of a Salt Lake Tribune reporter seeking records about San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman from the Utah Attorney General’s office.
Salt Lake Tribune Reporter Robert Gehrke says he’s seeking records about an investigation he believes the Utah Attorney General’s office conducted into a potential conflict of interest violation regarding San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman.
“I think it’s important for the public, the citizens of San Juan County, and the state to know how commissioner Lyman was conducting himself as a county commissioner and whether there’s merit to the allegations that were made against him,” Gehrke says.
Representatives from the AG’s office denied his request, but did not give a reason for their decision or confirm whether the records even exist. Thursday the State Records Commission heard Gehrke’s appeal and a request from the AG’s office to hold an unprecedented closed session to allow the state to make their arguments off the public record.
After consideration, the commission denied the office’s request and when it came time for Assistant Attorney General Blaine Ferguson to argue why the records should remain private, Ferguson chose not to comment.
“Because the committee has decided not to implement procedures to preserve the confidentiality as requested by the Attorney General’s Office, we are legally constrained from making any further submissions in this public setting,” Ferguson said.
Without an argument and without providing documents, the commission ruled in favor of Gehrke and ordered the AG’s office to release the documents, if any exist.
“It was nice to prevail, I guess, but I think this is just one step in something that’s going to take much longer,” Gehrke says.
During the hearing Ferguson indicated they’ll likely challenge the ruling in Third District Court.