STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
COMMITTEE ON JOINT RULE 36 COMPLAINT
|Bills Addressed: ||Action Taken:|
|Call to Order and Election of Chair|
Discussion of Role of Committee and Future Proceedings
|Senator Morse elected Chair|
09:04 AM -- Call to Order and Election of Chair
The meeting was called to order by Senator Morse. Senator Morse explained that the committee would need to elect a Chair. Representative A. Kerr suggested that a committee member from the Senate be elected Chair of the committee since the complaint involves matters related to the House of Representatives.
09:05 AM -- Discussion of Role of Committee and Future Proceedings
Ms. Jennifer Gilroy and Ms. Sharon Eubanks, Office of Legislative Legal Services, came to the table to address the committee. Ms. Gilroy provided an overview of what Joint Rule 36 provides with regard to how the committee may proceed. She referred the committee to a packet of information provided to them containing a copy of the complaint dated December 16, 2008, from Representative-elect Cindy Acree; a letter dated December 19, 2008, from President Groff and Speaker Romanoff to Richard Kaufman, attorney to Erik Groves; an affidavit by Erik Groves dated December 17, 2008; and a copy of Joint Rule 36 (Attachment A).
Ms. Gilroy explained the provisions of Joint Rule 36, saying the Executive Committee of the Legislative Council did not dismiss the complaint and directed the President and the Speaker to appoint a committee to interview the parties involved, and to present their findings to the Executive Committee. She described the role of the committee, including its authority to interview individuals and to gather documentation. Ms. Gilroy explained that the committee would present its findings to the Executive Committee. She noted that it is precedent that the committee would provide a recommendation to the Executive Committee.
Ms. Gilroy responded to a question from Senator Morse about the scope of recommendation to the Executive Committee. Senator Cadman asked for information about activities occurring concurrently with the committee's work, specifically inquiring whether the committee would receive information from the House Ethics Committee regarding a complaint filed by Representative May against Representative Balmer. Ms. Eubanks described the House Ethics Committee's work to date, noting it had met on Wednesday, January 7, 2009. She explained the role of the House Ethics Committee as it compares with the role of the committee. She clarified the committee's role in investigating the actions of Mr. Groves.
Ms. Gilroy commented on Senator Cadman's question as well, noting that the committee should focus on subsection (b) (4) of Joint Rule 36. She outlined a number of items that the committee should consider in light of the provisions of the rule, noting that the scope of the work of the House Ethics Committee may be broader. Senator Morse commented on the issue as well.
Senator Morse indicated that the committee should interview Representative Acree, Mr. Brent Jones, and Mr. Groves. Ms. Gilroy noted that the complaint also mentions a Mr. Tory Brown, and suggested the committee might want to interview Mr. Brown as well. The committee discussed the interview list, and decided to interview Mr. Brown as well. Senator Morse said the committee should review any documentation the interviewees can provide. The committee discussed what the documentation might include. Senator Cadman suggested that there may be other people with whom Representative Acree discussed the matter. Ms. Eubanks noted that Representative Acree says in her complaint that she spoke to Representative Bradford. The committee discussed whether there may be other members of the House Republican Caucus who should be interviewed.
Ms. Eubanks said there could be advance requests for documentation so that the committee could review the documentation prior to the interviews.
Ms. Eubanks said the committee might consider requesting a written response from Mr. Groves. She said this is based on her conversations with Mr. Groves' attorney, Mr. Richard Kaufman. The committee discussed the issue. Senator Morse called Mr. Kaufman to the table. Mr. Kaufman said Mr. Groves would like to submit a written response in addition to his interview with the committee. The committee discussed what the written statement would entail. Mr. Kaufman said the statement could be produced by the middle of next week. Senator Morse asked for the statement by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 14, 2009.
Mr. Kaufman asked if he could ask questions of Representative Acree. The committee discussed this possibility. Ms. Eubanks said she does not believe there is precedence for Mr. Kaufman questioning Representative Acree. She noted that the committee's work is not a judicial preceding. Committee discussion on the topic ensued. After its discussion, the committee decided that Mr. Kaufman may ask questions through the committee, but not question Representative Acree directly. Mr. Kaufman agreed to this course of action.
Senator Morse suggested that the committee next meet at 7:00 a.m. on Friday, January 16, 2009, in Senate Committee Room 352. The members agreed to this date and time.
Representative Kerr asked for direction related to his communications with the parties who would be interviewed. Ms. Gilroy responded to this inquiry and offered to prepare a "no-contact letter" to be delivered to members of the General Assembly, similar to one provided to the House Ethics Committee. The letter would respectfully request that members of the General Assembly not contact members of the committee with regard to the committee's work. Senator Morse directed staff to prepare and distribute the letter.
The committee adjourned.