Legislature

Utah Legislature intern coordinator fired for ‘unprofessional’ emails about intern appearances

The Utah Legislature recently fired an intern coordinator who would work with legislative interns in the future because of an “unprofessional” email exchange with a former Republican lawmaker.

The email, which is from 2013, came to light after the Salt Lake Tribune filed for public record.

A spokesman for the legislature said Nathan Brady, a policy analyst, was removed from his responsibilities as internship coordinator after The Tribune in August requested records of legislative interns.

Those recordings included a 2013 exchange, when Rep. Paul Ray, a Republican from Clearfield who served in the Utah House of Representatives from 2001 to December 2021, responded to an email from then-intern coordinator Brady asking if Ray wanted his — or a “dedicated” intern.

“Dedicated please, is Miss Utah available?” Ray asked on December 17, 2013, about a month before the start of the 2014 legislative session.

Brady responded by saying, “Ha ha ha. . . . not yet. I have met our interns and most of our female interns would not be mistaken for Miss Utah.

“…don’t worry, I think I can find you a good one,” Brady added.

In a statement provided to The Tribune on Friday afternoon, House Speaker Brad Wilson and Utah Senate Speaker Stuart Adams said, “The Legislature strives to have an exemplary and does not tolerate inappropriate or unprofessional behavior. When we become aware of situations, we take them seriously and tackle them head-on.

“We recently became aware of a 2013 thread between a former lawmaker and a current employee that contained unprofessional behavior via a log request. a decade, disciplinary action was taken and the employee was removed from his position as in-house coordinator, the statement read.

Ray, the former legislator, retired from the Legislature to serve as deputy director of legislative affairs for the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Former Rep. Paul Ray makes a comment during the special legislative session, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. A thread obtained by The Tribune showed that in 2013, when Ray was when asked about his preferences for a legislative intern, he replied, “Is Miss Utah available?”.

On Friday, Ray said several Miss Utahs have come to the Legislature for several consecutive years and will sit with him on the floor of the Utah House. “And every single one we had was extremely smart,” he said.

Ray went on to say, “It was just kind of a sarcasm. I was just like, hey, I’ll take her if she’s available. Because the impression that each of them left on me was pretty good.

He explained that a former legislative intern, who later became Miss Utah, also sat with him on the floor. Ray said the comment was made out of respect for her.

“The way you read it obviously doesn’t sound right,” Ray told The Tribune. “But it didn’t mean that at all.”

In a statement sent to The Tribune, DHHS said it “recently became aware of emails between our employee and the former legislative coordinator.

“There is no human resources investigation into the matter,” the statement continued. “Paul is a current DHHS employee in good standing.”

Nathan W. Brady in a staff photo of the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel of the Utah Legislative Assembly

Brady, who has worked as an intern coordinator on and off since 2013, will continue to work at the Legislative Assembly as a policy analyst.

The Tribune attempted to reach Brady for comment Friday via his legislative email and a social media account, but the messages were not returned. Phone calls to several numbers listed in public records now appear to be disconnected.

Brady’s dismissal from overseeing internships comes weeks after Sonia Weglinski, a 2022 intern for Democratic Sen. Gene Davis who later worked as his campaign staffer, publicly accused the longtime lawmaker of having him repeatedly touched inappropriately.

Weglinski said that while working as an intern at the Utah Capitol, Davis would put her arm around her waist and once start playing with her toes when she sat in a reclining chair in her office.

In early August, Weglinski told The Tribune that she had not filed a complaint with the Legislative Assembly because she felt she had to share her story in her own words, without being “filtered” by other parties. Adams announced Aug. 5 that the Senate had opened an independent investigation into the allegations.

Less than an hour after this story was originally published, the Utah House Democratic Caucus released a statement addressing the emails, saying, “As a caucus, we are troubled by the comments between the former Rep and member OLRGC staff responsible for administering the Legislature’s internship program. Unprofessional jokes were inexcusable then and remain unpleasant now. It exposes a troubling culture in Utah that contributes to workplace harassment and the debasement of women.

“The Utah Legislature wouldn’t function as well without the incredible young people who serve as our interns each year. The Capitol should be a welcoming place where everyone can learn and grow. At the very least, our interns deserve our sincere respect and our complete professionalism as legislators,” the statement continued.

In their statement, Wilson and Adams said, “We aim to create a positive environment where people are treated with dignity and respect, and individuals can feel they can speak up, raise concerns, and know that those concerns will be addressed. appropriately. As a legislature, we are committed to evaluating and improving training to help prevent future incidents and promote a professional work environment.

Update • This story now includes a statement from Utah House Democrats.

Notice to readers • If you have any experience to share as a Legislature employee or intern, Tribune reporter Emily Anderson Stern can be reached at [email protected]

Additionally, The Tribune wants to hear from you if you have worked in the Utah Legislature – whether as an intern, staffer, lobbyist or legislator – and have experienced or witnessed any type of misconduct. sexual.

Please complete the survey below. If you are comfortable being questioned about your answers, a reporter can contact you to inquire about your time working for the Legislative Assembly. Your response will not be published unless we contact you and receive your permission.