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State Rep. Craig Frank has lost his District 57 House seat after serving in the Utah Legislature for two years while living outside the district, a violation of the Utah Constitution.
His ouster leaves a vacancy in the district he was scheduled to be sworn in Tuesday to represent for the next two years.
House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said it is a Republican seat and GOP delegates in House District 57 will pick the replacement.
But there could be a twist: Lockhart, a close ally of Frank's, said she has discussed with Gov. Gary Herbert's office the possibility of a special session to quickly redraw the district boundaries to include Frank's home in the district before delegates pick the replacement.
That means Frank could ultimately be chosen as his own replacement.
It appears that such a move would be unprecedented.
Herbert has the sole authority to convene a special session and his spokeswoman, Ally Isom, said on Monday that the governor is meeting with legislative leaders and attorneys to decide the best course.
Legislators are scheduled to meet on Jan. 19 in pre-session meetings, the day the special session would likely be held.
Lockhart would not say what recommendation she was making to the governor, but hopes to have the issue resolved by the time the 2011 Legislature convenes in two weeks. "I need a representative from District 57 in two weeks," she said.
"I would tell [the governor that] the Legislature is willing to consider all options at this point," she said.
Democrats were outraged that legislators would consider the move.
"A special session to move the boundaries around is absurd. That makes a pure mockery of the election process," said Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party.
Frank said he would "entertain any option" that would allow him to serve in his House seat.
"My intention is to represent the people of House District 57, as I was elected to do," he said.
Utah County Republican Party Chairman Taylor Oldroyd said the party plans to have delegates meet on Jan. 22 to pick Frank's replacement, so there can be a representative in place by the time the Legislature convenes on Jan. 24.
"I talked to the Governor's Office and they said they need a little more time to study all of the options and legal ramifications," Oldroyd said. "That's a factor for Representative Frank, mostly. We'll have a special election either way and the special session determines whether or not Representative Frank is a candidate."
Frank said he discovered the discrepancy when he typed his address into a new tool on the Legislature's website that is designed to help constituents find their members. Frank said he typed in his name to test it on Friday.
"To my surprise, my picture didn't come up on that site," he said.
Instead, Rep. John Dougall, who represents the adjacent House District 27, showed up as Frank's representative.
Frank was appointed to serve in House District 57 in 2003 and lived in Pleasant Grove.
In 2007, Frank purchased land in Cedar Hills to build a home. Frank said that he believed, after consulting a map at the Utah County Clerk's Office, that his new home would be within the legislative district.
That map, however, was in error and, as a result, so were ballots issued to voters in those areas.
Frank moved into the home on Jan. 1, 2009, he said.
"It was news to me," Dougall said of the boundary error. "I always joked that in a heavy rainstorm he'd end up in my district."
Dougall, who first ran for office in 2002, said he never campaigned in Cedar Hills, because, according to the information provided by the clerk's office, nobody in those neighborhoods could vote for him.
State law requires all candidates for office to certify that they have lived in the district boundaries for at least six months before holding office. Frank signed declarations last year that he met all of the criteria.
Frank on Friday had spoken to the House speaker, who in turn notified legislative attorneys, who determined Saturday that Frank must relinquish his office.
Lockhart said the period for contesting an election has passed, so it will be up to Republicans to fill the seat.
Richard Davis, the chairman of the Utah County Democratic Party, said he wants attorneys to take a closer look. Frank has not been sworn in as a legislator, he said, and was not eligible to serve in the office or be on the ballot.
Of the two eligible candidates on the ballot, Democrat James Crimson received the most votes although he was nearly 6,000 votes behind Frank.
Frank, who met with the lieutenant governor briefly after Monday's news conference, was introduced to some education officials by his wife, Kim, as they left the office.
"This is my husband, Rep. Craig Frank," she said.
"Former representative," he clarified.