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SALT LAKE CITY — State senators are being criticized for not holding a confirmation hearing for former lawmaker Holly Richardson, Gov. Gary Herbert’s nominee to the State Records Committee.
The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on Richardson’s nomination, despite a call from the politically progressive Alliance for a Better UTAH to delay action until a confirmation hearing is held.
“This isn’t any ordinary committee,” Maryann Martindale, the alliance’s executive director, said. “The vitality of our open records law depends on how these men and women handle requests for information.”
Richardson is being nominated to serve as the citizen member of the records committee, which handles open records appeals under the state’s Government Records Access and Management Act.
The “Holly on the Hill” blogger served as a Republican in the Utah House until stepping down to run former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist’s unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate.
In a letter to senators, Martindale pointed out Richardson supported HB477, a controversial bill widely seen as gutting GRAMA that was passed despite massive protests, then was later repealed.
There is no requirement that the Senate hold confirmation hearings before voting on the governor’s appointments. Typically, hearings are held only for appointments to a top post, such as a judgeship, or if there is ongoing controversy.
Herbert’s deputy chief of staff, Ally Isom, said Richardson is “well qualified to represent the public” because of her blogging and participation in a working group that studied GRAMA in the wake of HB477.
“Most importantly,” Isom said, Richardson “supported the repeal of HB477 and understands the importance of public transparency and accountability.”
Not on the Senate’s confirmation list for Wednesday is Francine Giani, nominated by the governor to fill one of the two newly created spots on the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.
Giani, executive director of the state Department of Commerce, was named the temporary head of the DABC last year by Herbert after legislative audits found mismanagement and possible criminal behavior.
She remains at the helm of the Commerce Department, but stepped down from the DABC post in June. Senators have questioned whether a member of the governor’s cabinet should serve on the commission.