Utah’s Republican governor and governor-elect condemned Attorney General Sean Reyes’ decision Wednesday to join a court brief supporting a lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court challenging election results in Pennsylvania and other states that President Donald Trump lost.
Gov. Gary Herbert and Gov.-elect Spencer Cox said in a joint statement that Reyes, also a Republican, did not consult them before signing onto the amicus brief, “so we don’t know what his motivation is.”
“Just as we would not want other states challenging Utah’s election results, we do not think we should intervene in other states’ elections. Candidates who wish to challenge election results have access to the courts without our involvement. This is an unwise use of taxpayers’ money,” Herbert and Cox said.
Reyes said Utah joined with more than a dozen states in the brief because there are questions about the election process and constitutional integrity that need to be answered nationally. He said the high court must decide whether state legislatures or the courts determine the time and place for voting.
“If the election was fair, the Supreme Court should say so. If not, it should say that. Either way, it should say something and not avoid the question,” Reyes said in a prepared statement.
The lawsuit filed by GOP Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton contends that the four states’ actions raise serious concerns about election integrity and “undermined the liberty of all Americans.”
The suit demands that the 62 total Electoral College votes in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin be invalidated. If set aside, that would be enough to swing the election to Trump. It repeats a litany of false, disproven and unsupported allegations about mail-in ballots and voting in the four battleground states, according to The Associated Press.
The four states must file a response to Texas’ lawsuit by Thursday afternoon.
Democrat Joe Biden won the Nov. 3 election by more than 7 million votes and has a 306-232 edge in the electoral vote.
Republican attorneys general in 17 states Trump won last month joined Paxton in urging the Supreme Court to hear the lawsuit less than a week before presidential electors meet in state capitals to cast their ballots on Dec. 14.
In addition to Utah, the states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Trump on Wednesday called the 2020 election the “greatest election fraud” in U.S. history.
“Wow! At least 17 States have joined Texas in the extraordinary case against the greatest Election Fraud in the history of the United States. Thank you!” he tweeted.
Twitter tagged the president’s post: “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”
Wow! At least 17 States have joined Texas in the extraordinary case against the greatest Election Fraud in the history of the United States. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2020
Trump bested Biden in Utah with 58.2% to 37.7%, taking the state’s six electoral votes.
Reyes, who is a presidential elector, said the Supreme Court needs to decide who controls the time, place and manner of elections in the states.
“Is it the legislature, as it appears the Constitution commands? Or can that power be delegated or usurped in certain circumstances?” he said.
The answer, he said, affects not only the 2020 election but potentially every future election.
“This case is not only about one candidate or election cycle, as important as they may be, but the fairness of all elections — current and future,” Reyes said. “It is about assuring the process is fair and uniform today and becomes so or remains so tomorrow,” he said in a prepared statement.
Trump also asked the Supreme Court to let him join the Texas lawsuit.
“We will be INTERVENING in the Texas (plus many other states) case,” Trump tweeted before the high court filing. “This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory!”
We will be INTERVENING in the Texas (plus many other states) case. This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2020
Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson released a statement late Wednesday saying she was “disheartened” to see Reyes continue to politicize the election now that it has been decided for weeks. Now is a time to work across party lines on issues of real concern, she said.
“Our health systems are in crisis, so many lives have been lost, and our community is shaken,” Wilson said. “The last thing we need is more gamesmanship and manipulation from elected officials using public resources to perpetuate partisan schemes. We have all had enough.”
The left-leaning Alliance for a Better Utah said Reyes’ partisan intervention in the Texas case “embarrasses” Utah.
“Sean Reyes’ continued effort to delegitimize a democratic election — one the federal government has deemed the ‘most secure in American history ’— by throwing out people’s votes is beyond the pale for a state attorney general,” Chase Thomas, Better Utah executive director, said in a statement.
“Escalating this partisan warfare to the Supreme Court can only be regarded as one final desperate Hail Mary in an attempt to maintain party control at the expense of the people.”
Last month, Reyes traveled to Las Vegas to weigh in on anticipated election-related legal action in several states. He said he saw evidence of voting irregularities in Nevada that may have resulted in improper votes being counted or proper votes being rejected.
Democratic Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford called Reyes’ involvement in the Silver State a “disrespectful slap in the face” and said that Reyes should “mind his own business.”
Reyes said the Texas lawsuit is not about the propriety of Utah elections. He said he has confidence in the bipartisan work to assure fair and reliable elections in the Beehive State. He joined Cox, the state auditor and the state treasurer in certifying Utah’s election results.
Cox tweeted last month that he is “deeply troubled” at the general acceptance of unproven allegations that undermine the electoral system.
“Sometimes our team just loses,” he said then. “It doesn’t mean the other side cheated, it just means we have to work harder next time to convince more voters.”