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Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes declined Monday to file charges against Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, as sought by GOP gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Johnson who alleged illegal dirty tricks by Weiler and Gov. Gary Herbert's campaign.
Reyes asked a panel of prosecutors to review the case. His office wrote to Johnson that each "agreed independently and collaboratively this case lacks a reasonable likelihood of conviction. For this reason, the Utah attorney general's office is declining to prosecute."
Johnson asked for an investigation earlier this year after Weiler posted on Facebook a copy of Johnson's voter registration form, and questioned why he had not checked the box affiliated with the Republican Party.
The form included some personal information such as his birth date and last four digits of his Social Security number that should have been redacted in any public release of the record, but was not.
Johnson later would say that the GOP box wasn't checked because he already registered as a Republican and his secretary filled out what was a renewal form. Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen, a Democrat, later said voting records showed Johnson has been a registered Republican since he first registered in Utah in 2000.
Weiler acknowledges that he posted an image of the form on two Republican Facebook groups after someone texted him a copy, but said he thought it was a public document when he did so.
"I apologized to Jonathan Johnson on Jan. 9 of this year for making an innocent mistake," he said Monday. "I'm really disappointed that he tried to make an election issue out of this."
Last month, Herbert's campaign manager, Marty Carpenter, said the campaign came across the record while researching Johnson's history as a Republican.
"We heard a rumor Jonathan Johnson was not a registered Republican," he said then. "Rather than spreading a rumor, we requested a copy of a public document from the county clerk, which did, in fact, verify he did not register as a Republican."
The records request was part of a broader opposition research effort commonplace in political campaigns conducted by an outside consultant.
Dave Hansen, Johnson's campaign manager, said Monday, "We saw a potential problem, and brought it to the attorney general's attention. We asked him to investigate it. He has investigated it and come to his decision on it."
He added, "We're satisfied that he took a look at it and investigated it."
In an interview last month, Johnson said, "I think the person that accessed [the form with personal information] and anyone who is part of that daisy chain that gave it to Todd needs to be prosecuted, because it was done purposefully."
He added, "I'd like to see [Weiler] prosecuted. I'd like to know where this came from. ... I know campaigns are bare-knuckle and fisticuffs. I get that. I'm trying not to run that kind of campaign."
Johnson, chairman of Overstock.com, faces Herbert on Saturday at the Utah Republican convention, along with Republicans Nate Jensen and Carlos Tavares Jr.
Herbert has already qualified for the primary election by collecting 28,000 signatures. The others, however, could be eliminated from the race on Saturday if they fail to receive at least 40 percent of votes in a final round of delegate voting that day.