Rep. Dionne Halverson, who on Christmas Eve pleaded no contest to a charge of shoplifting, says she will not resign from the Legislature and will call for an ethics investigation when lawmakers open their regular session next week.
The decision of Halverson, D-Ogden, followed a 90-minute meeting Monday in Ogden with the House Democratic leadership and top party officials, including state party chairman Peter Billings Jr.Halverson, 43, says she feels she can still be effective as a state legislator and plans to carry out her duties as usual. She said she has received widespread support to continue in the Legislature.
House Minority Whip Kelly Atkinson, D-West Jordan, who has been assigned the Halverson question by Democratic legislative leaders, said they respect Halverson's decision.
"We never asked her to resign," said Atkinson. "We're concerned about her personally and her family."
He added that Democratic leaders, who support various ethics reforms to be considered by the Legislature, "never were going to sweep this under the rug; we were going to ask for an ethics investigation first."
Halverson was re-elected on Nov. 6 to a second two-year term from House District 10, which includes the southeast corner of Ogden.
She was stopped outside Mervyn's Department Store in Ogden on Dec. 20 and cited with shoplifting $196 worth of clothing, a Class A misdemeanor. She entered the no-contest plea four days later in 2nd Circuit Court and was sentenced to a 30-day suspended jail term, placed on 18 months' probation, fined $350 and ordered to undergo counseling.
On Tuesday, Atkinson said the Democratic leadership may call for an ethics probe jointly with Halverson.
"We have no desire to make her look bad or leave her out there on her own," said Atkinson, the leadership's designated spokesman.