DOJ: Utah isn’t handing over documents for grant probe

Stock image, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah attorney general’s office has failed to turn over documents for a federal probe into allegations that state officials lied about budget cuts during the Great Recession to get federal grants, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

The department has asked a federal court to compel the state to comply with subpoenas from its inspector general’s office, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday.

The state “has failed to produce a single document” despite numerous requests since April to state Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office, the DOJ said in its court filing.

It also claims the state has not given a reason for the noncompliance.

Reyes’ office disputes the claims, noting in a statement that it is limited on what it can say because of a secrecy order.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes speaks in St. George, Utah, Feb. 17, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Utah has cooperated to the “maximum extent allowable under legal and ethical rules and has been following strict orders of this court not to disclose anything publicly,” Reyes’ office said.

The allegations involved a prior administration, Reyes’ office said. The state agencies involved “will provide defenses of their conduct at the appropriate time when instructed by the court,” it said.

The DOJ is investigating if state officials falsely represented that budget cuts eliminated state jobs so they could obtain grants to restore those jobs from 2009 to 2013. Grants were awarded to the attorney general’s office, state courts administration, Juvenile Justice Services and the state Department of Public Safety.

The DOJ has requested documents and communications on job creation and replacement, personnel records for grant-funded workers, and information about employee transferring practices.

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