Utah House GOP won't seat Frank

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 19 2011 11:27 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — House Republicans emerged from a closed caucus Wednesday with what was described as an "extremely strong position" against seating Craig Frank as the state representative from District 57.

But the saga of whether Frank remains a state lawmaker after discovering a discrepancy between state and county district boundary maps likely will continue, at least through the start of the 2011 Legislature on Monday.

Frank said again Wednesday he is not ruling out going to court to resolve the issue of whether he should keep his seat even though for the past two years, he has lived outside the district he's represented since 2003.

"I will be here Monday," he told reporters after the more than two-hour discussion about his fate held behind closed doors. Frank was allowed to make a presentation to his fellow Republicans before being asked to leave.

He said he was told there were 35 votes in the caucus to redraw District 57 to include the portions of his Cedar Hills neighborhood that have appeared on the Utah County election maps draw up after the 2000 census.

House leaders said without the 38 votes needed to pass legislation, they plan on continuing to discuss the issue. Still, House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, said he expects the boundaries to be adjusted this session.

More clear, Dee said, was the caucus decision whether to exclude Frank when the official House roster is adopted Monday.

"I watched people vote their conscience and it wasn't easy," Dee said. "It was an extremely strong position."

House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said there are still questions about how to proceed Monday that will have to be answered by legislative attorneys.

Lt. Gov. Greg Bell released a letter to Lockhart Wednesday stating he has determined Frank is a not a resident of his House district. The House Management Committee reached the same conclusion Tuesday, despite Frank's contention his election in November was certified by Bell.

Lockhart called the situation a tragedy for Frank, a political ally and "a man who I believe is honorable and decent, that unbeknownst to him and his constituency, this has been an error for so many years."

She said, though, it is up to the House to decide whether he can continue to serve.

"It's unfortunate, but we're not going to run from it or hide from it," she said. "The Legislature has constitutional duties to perform and we will perform them."

It would be up to the Utah County GOP to fill a vacancy in District 57. The party has postponed a planned vote of district delegates until Jan. 29.

Frank found out he didn't live in his district according to the official state map two weeks ago, when he entered his address into a new House website and another lawmaker's face popped up on his computer screen.

House Republicans leaders announced a vacancy and Frank seemed to go along with plans to replace him until, he said, residents who have been voting in the wrong House, Senate and congressional districts complained.

e-mail: lisa@desnews.com

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