Gay marriage, polygamy, public trust big issues in Utah AG’s race

Posted at 5:51 PM, Mar 19, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- Restoring public trust and defending marriage are big issues that will take center stage in the race for Utah Attorney General.

On Wednesday, Sean Reyes officially filed for the job he has already held for several months now. Reyes was appointed by Gov. Gary Herbert to fill the term of former Utah Attorney General John Swallow, who resigned amid corruption investigations.

Reyes, a Republican, is facing a Democratic challenger from within his own office: assistant Utah Attorney General Charles Stormont. Civil rights attorney Andy McCullough has also filed in the race, running as a Libertarian.

"I think that the idea of having a little bit of balance in state government is something that's very important," Stormont said. "That's why I'm stepping up now to give the folks a choice."

The scandal surrounding Swallow is expected to be front-and-center in the race. Both Reyes and Stormont said they were focusing their campaigns on restoring public trust in the state's largest law firm.

Reyes pledged more transparency in his campaign contributions, and said that if a donor was under investigation by the attorney general's office -- he would reject the money.

"Scrutinizing the money that's coming in, being very transparent about it as we accept it, and making sure that if there are any conflicts or even appearances of conflict that we're public about it and we take care of it quickly," he told FOX 13.

Stormont said he would like to meet with Reyes to see if both campaigns would make transparency pledges and set contribution limits.

In an interview with FOX 13 on Tuesday, Stormont said that if he were elected attorney general, he would abandon Utah's defense of Amendment 3, the same-sex marriage ban.

"I think I would definitely get out," he said. "I think that's the right thing to do under the law. Marriage is an incredibly personal and important thing. The state has no business telling you or me, or anybody else, how we should structure our families or our marriages. I believe the law is very clear on that."

Stormont said he would also not appeal a federal judge's ruling that essentially decriminalized polygamy in Utah.

"I certainly think the taxpayer dollars could be better spent on our children, better spent in education, better spent on things the people of our state hold much more important," he said.

Reyes disagreed.

"When I swore an oath to support, obey and defend the laws of the state of Utah, I have an obligation -- regardless of how I feel about an issue -- to stand up and protect the laws of the state," he told FOX 13.

"I think it's a very dangerous precedent to allow an attorney general, regardless of how strongly he or she may feel on a particular issue, to pick and choose which laws to defend."