The Utah Supreme Court Friday denied a state treasurer candidate's request that Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert be forced to make a decision on an elections complaints before the June 24 primary election.
Justices heard arguments in the case filed by state treasurer candidate Richard Ellis, who wanted the court to order Herbert to decide now whether his complaints against his primary opponent, Rep. Mark Walker, R-Sandy, merits further investigation.
Ellis has alleged that Walker offered him the opportunity to keep his job as chief deputy state treasurer at a higher salary if he dropped out of the race. Walker has denied the allegations.
In a single paragraph ruling issued less than two hours after the hearing, the court stated the lieutenant governor must "gather information and determine if a special investigation is necessary."
Herbert, the ruling stated, "has no discretion to refuse to do so within a reasonable time" but does have "broad discretion over the methodology used in the process and the factors considered.
He also has "considerable discretion over the timing of his decision, subject to the reasonableness requirement," according to the ruling written for the court by Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham.
Ellis said he was disappointed to learn of the ruling. Not being able to let voters know whether the lieutenant governor believed the complaint warranted further investigation by the attorney general's office "maybe will have some impact" on the election, he said.
"I guess we'll never know. I've always tried to say this was not done for political means. The issue to me is my personal integrity," Ellis said. Now, he said, he may take his complaint directly to prosecutors.
Walker said Ellis needs to forget about his complaint."His mudslinging and schoolyard antics have gotten out of hand. I think that was shown today," Walker said. "I'm calling on him to pull this and start a real campaign."
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