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Utah governor condemns attorney general joining Texas suit

December 10, 2020 GMT
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Gov. Gary Herbert, right, and Gov.-elect Spencer Cox exchange elbows during a press conference announcing details related to their upcoming transition of leadership at the Utah State Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Cox, who won the governor's race this week, said he is prepared to continue the fight against COVID-19 when he succeeds Herbert in January. He said he hopes to focus on ramping up testing, adding more contact tracers and implementing vaccine distribution. (Steve Griffin/Deseret News, via AP, Pool)
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Gov. Gary Herbert, right, and Gov.-elect Spencer Cox exchange elbows during a press conference announcing details related to their upcoming transition of leadership at the Utah State Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Cox, who won the governor's race this week, said he is prepared to continue the fight against COVID-19 when he succeeds Herbert in January. He said he hopes to focus on ramping up testing, adding more contact tracers and implementing vaccine distribution. (Steve Griffin/Deseret News, via AP, Pool)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah’s Republican governor and governor-elect on Thursday condemned the attorney general’s decision to join a Texas lawsuit to invalidate the presidential race results in four battleground states that President Donald Trump lost.

Gov. Gary Herbert and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who will be taking the governor’s seat in January, said it is not Utah’s responsibility to intervene in other states’ elections. They also said Attorney General Sean Reyes did not consult them before signing onto the amicus brief.

Herbert told reporters that candidates and campaigns are responsible for pursuing election-related legal challenges and called Utah’s involvement “a waste of our taxpayers’ dollars.”

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Cox, who is an attorney, said there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the presidential election and “sometimes we just lose.”

“There is the possibility that voter fraud has happened, but you actually have to have evidence,” said Cox. “I keep waiting for the smoking gun that has been promised. I’ve yet to see it.”

Herbert and Cox were some of the first Republicans to acknowledge Biden’s election win.

Reyes, who is also a Republican, said Wednesday he is filing in support of the lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate 62 Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden from Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“This case is not about the propriety of Utah elections,” Reyes wrote in a statement Wednesday. “I have great confidence in the bi-partisan work to assure fair and reliable elections in our state ... Rather, we join this amicus because of questions about process and constitutional integrity that need to be answered nationally.”

If those 62 electoral votes are invalidated, it would be enough to swing the election to Trump. The lawsuit from the Texas attorney general, Republican Ken Paxton, repeats a litany of false, disproven and unsupported allegations about mail-in ballots and voting in the four battlegrounds.

The courts have already dismissed numerous election complaints as Trump continues to tweet that the results should be overturned. Legal experts have dismissed the Texas filing as a long shot.

Reyes joined several other Republican attorneys general at a “holiday luncheon” hosted by the White House on Thursday, said Ric Cantrell, a spokesman for Reyes.

Reyes has supported Trump’s claims of voter fraud and spent a weekend in November shortly after his own reelection looking for election problems in Nevada, another battleground state that Biden won.

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Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.