Former Rep. Craig Frank says he may still be a lawmaker

Published: Friday, Jan. 14 2011 8:12 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY – Embattled former Rep. Craig Frank said Friday it’s not clear if he still represents Cedar Hills in the Legislature, even though he apparently lives outside his district.

"There seems to be a question about that right now — enough of a question for me not to step away from that title just yet," the Republican said.

That's a reversal of his acknowledgement earlier this week that a boundary difference between Utah County and state precinct maps cost him a seat he's held since 2003.

Now Frank is saying that decision should be left up to his fellow House members, who must ratify a roster at the start of the 2011 Legislature on Jan. 24.

Gov. Gary Herbert also said Friday there's uncertainty over the situation and that he wanted to review it further before ruling out another remedy.

"Right now, there are no plans to call a special session," Herbert said. "I think it is a little unclear on some of the issues out there."

House Democrats issued a statement later Friday calling Frank "not legally qualified to serve" and asking Utah County Republicans to name his replacement.

But House Republican leaders were reluctant to weigh in on Frank's change of heart since their Monday announcement that the District 57 seat was vacant.

Legislative attorneys told them Frank could no longer serve because two years ago he moved just outside the boundary on the state map and the Utah Constitution requires representatives to live in their districts.

There was the suggestion that Frank, an ally of new House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, could get his seat back if the governor called a special session to redraw the boundaries.

But the majority of House and Senate Republicans aren't supportive. Herbert said Friday there aren't the votes to pass a fix in a special session, and neither House nor Senate leaders have asked that one be called.

Usually when there is a legislative vacancy, the political party of the former lawmaker holds a special election among district delegates.

Utah County GOP Chairman Taylor Oldroyd, however, said even though a Jan. 22 election has been tentatively set, there's too much confusion to proceed.

"We're kind of in a hurry-up-and-wait kind of a thing," Oldroyd said. "We're in uncharted waters here."

Frank said waiting until the start of the session would encourage lawmakers to resolve the boundary issue, which resulted in some 2,500 residents voting in the wrong legislative and congressional districts for a decade.

He said because his election results were certified and not challenged, his name should appear on the official House roster as the District 57 representative despite the controversy.

Frank said he would step aside if House members chose not to accept him in that role. 

The difference between the state and county precinct maps surfaced when Frank entered his address into a new House website last Friday and another lawmaker appeared as his representative.

He said the portions of Cedar Hills left out of his district by the state were actually annexed into the city before the state map was completed. He is not going to petition the lieutenant governor to accept the county designated boundaries, however, because the process would take too long.

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com

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