A recent dust-up over a sitting legislator's letter on behalf of a convicted sex offender raises the question of when a lawmaker should use his title to make a recommendation in a court case, and it shows how one's best intentions often go awry.
Maryann Martindale, executive director of the Alliance for a Better UTAH, recently wrote an open letter to Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, which she shared with the media. It chastised Harper for using his title as a state legislator in a letter of support he wrote for Eric Ray, who was convicted of forcible sex abuse based on his conduct with a then-15-year-old girl.
"We are concerned that you appear to have crossed an ethical line by using your official capacity as a member of the State Legislature to influence the Court's sentencing," wrote Martindale. "While your motives may have been well-intentioned, we believe that Eric Ray's victim, her family, similarly situated victims, your constituents and the citizens of Utah deserve an apology for what appears to be an abuse of the power of your position for the sake of a convicted felon."