Buttars could be removed from Senate Judiciary Committee

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Team coverage Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, could face an official reprimand for a string of negative comments about gay people made public this week.

The nature of that reprimand will be officially released at a news conference Friday morning. Sources close to the Senate told KSL's Richard Piatt that a reprimand will include at least being removed as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers react to Buttars' anti-gay comments

Both Senate Republicans and Democrats say they're outraged at Buttars comments, which included his belief that the radical gay movement is "the greatest threat to America today."

Democrats say they made it clear that if Republican leadership didn't express their outrage over Buttars' comments, they would press the issue. In fact, some senators had already prepared to publicly denounce Buttars from the Senate floor.

"People are very, very unhappy, and they feel like this happened last year, and they feel like ti was a hand slap. And this year, I think they're ready for something strict to happen to him," said Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones.

Senate President Michale Waddoups said earlier he counseled Buttars to stand up for his issues when it's appropriate, and when it's not, not to get trapped.

"It wasn't in an official Senate meeting. It was an interview in his own home, and we still live in America, and we still have the First Amendment," Waddoups said.

He says he thinks Buttars was speaking as a citizen, but he also says Buttars is doing his job, representing his constituents. Buttars' constituents react to his anti-gay statements

This isn't the first time Buttars has made controversial comments, drawing attention not only to himself, but to the suburban area he represents.

The KSL.com comment board exploded with over 700 comments about Buttars on Wednesday. Many of those commenters, however, were on Buttars' side.

"Most of us stand with him on this issue," one commenter wrote.

But in person, everyone we asked strongly disagreed with the comments.

"Insert foot and shut mouth! That's about the best way I can put it," Rebecca Preece said. "To a point, I agree with some of it. But how he said it, and the extent of it, is a bit harsh."

Marhall Duffield said, "He should keep his personal beliefs out of it and do what's best for this city and for his district. What he's saying and doing is not best for his district."

"It gives us a horrible name. People would expect it, actually, from Utah because that's what they think goes on here, that we're really close-minded and un-accepting. So, it would fit right into the stereotype of us," said Chantel Lichtenfels.

Josh Ewing, with the public relations firm Love Communications, says these comments create an image nightmare for Utah. "It just cements the reputation that Utah is kind of a backward place with incredibly conservative people," he said. Filmmaker responds to Buttars' accusations

Meanwhile, the filmmaker who released Buttars' comments to the public says both Waddoups and Buttars are lying in their responses to the media.

Reed Cowan says his interview with Buttars took place in Buttars' office, not in his home as he believes Waddoups suggested. He also says that Buttars was made fully aware that the video would be released this summer, not in a year.

Cowan believes comments from both senators are part of an effort to "divert attention away from the substance of Buttars' comments." [Click here to read Reed Cowan's entire statement]

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com
E-mail: ngonzales@ksl.com
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E-mail: aadams@ksl.com

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