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3 UTA board members resign following unauthorized Switzerland trip

3 UTA board members resign following unauthorized Switzerland trip
3 UTA board members resign following unauthorized Switzerland trip
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(KUTV) Board Vice Chair Christopher Bleak and two other board members, who have not been publicly identified, submitted their resignations at a closed hearing Wednesday afternoon, Utah Transit Authority spokesman Remi Barron confirmed.

The trip -- which took place in September -- involved Bleak, other UTA board members, and some state lawmakers including House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper. They visited Switzerland to look at Swiss mountain rail systems and how they could benefit Utah's ski resorts, according to 2News media partner The Salt Lake Tribune.

Barron said UTA did not know about the trip and did not authorize the board members to take it.

"The UTA board wanted to make it known that they were not briefed on this trip in advance and our staff was not aware of this trip in advance either and we just find that inappropriate."

Barron said no UTA money was spent on the trip.

Today Christopher Bleak spoke with 2News, he says he actually resigned last week, and tendered that resignation, not because of the controversial trip, but because he was taking on a new project that would not allow him to continue in his role on the board. He told 2News, he perhaps didn't use the best judgement when going on the trip.

"I suppose in hindsight you know you're always second guessing yourself; lesson learned I suppose," said Bleak.

The other two board members who resigned have yet not been identified because their resignation letters had not been officially submitted, Barron told 2News.

Through a spokesman, Hughes declined to comment on the resignations or the trip.

Barron said at the same board meeting Wednesday, UTA leaders adopted a new ethics policy designed to prevent similar situations from occurring. Specific details of the policy were not immediately available.

Bleak's released his letter to the board. It read:

Dear Board Members,
Last week, I submitted my resignation from the Utah Transit Authority Board to my appointing authority in Utah County and notified Chair Burton that November 18, 2015 would be my last meeting. I made this decision in consultation with Chair Burton and our General Counsel based on a new client project at my firm. Although the work issue is not in conflict with UTA's vision and mission it does present a problem for me serving on the Board. We looked at possible solutions that would allow me to serve and recuse myself from certain Board decisions but that would prove to be too unwieldy for me and would not allow Utah County, my appointing authority, to be appropriately represented on the Board.
Unfortunately, my resignation coincides with recent media scrutiny and attention around a trip I made to Switzerland. I want to apologize to each of you for creating this issue and distraction.
I have had the opportunity to serve on the Board for 7.5 years and have greatly enjoyed this opportunity. Thank you for your public service and the opportunity to work with you. I know how seriously you take your service and I wish you the best.
Chris Bleak
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Stay tuned to 2News and for updates on this developing story.

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