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Former House Speaker David Clark submitted his resignation Monday in order to campaign for Utah's 2nd Congressional District.
The Santa Clara Republican has not formally announced his congressional bid but told a gathering of Washington County Republicans last month that he planned to resign to seek the seat. His resignation takes effect Jan. 5.
Utah law bars legislators from fundraising for any office during the 45-day legislative session starting in late January. The blackout period, which comes just weeks before the Republican nominating convention, poses a major obstacle to candidates.
The ban was reinforced last month in an advisory letter from Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, the state's top elections official, who said that it applies to raising money for any office a lawmaker may be seeking.
"A legislator is always a legislator, regardless of any other office for which he or she may be campaigning," Bell wrote in the letter, which came in response to inquiries from several lawmakers.
It is a class A misdemeanor for donors to give money to legislators, but not for legislators to accept funds.
Last week, state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, R-Bountiful, resigned, which is a strong indication that he will challenge six-term U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch for the Republican nomination. State Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, has indicated he also will likely resign before the session starts to run for the new 4th Congressional seat.
Clark began his legislative career in 2001. In 2006, he was elected to serve as House majority leader and in the next term was chosen to be speaker. He was defeated by a single vote two years later by current House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo.
Clark is the southern Utah regional president for Zions Bank. He was the point man on Utah's health reform efforts and the establishment of the Utah Health Exchange. He also pushed through changes to the Legislature's ethics rules while speaker.
He was criticized at the end of the 2009 session, when he praised a fellow lawmaker who admitted to impropriety with a teen in the late 1980s.
He joins a crowded field of Republican candidates seeking the GOP nomination in the 2nd District, which stretches from Davis County, through Salt Lake County and down the west side of the state to Washington County.
The Republican field includes conservative activist Cherilyn Eagar, author and former Air Force pilot Chris Stewart, former Air Force official Chuck Williams, businessman Howard Wallack and Navy and commercial pilot John Willoughby. Former NFL defensive lineman Jason Buck also may join the race.
The district's incumbent, Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, said last week he plans to run in the 4th District.