Reaction to former Utah AGs Swallow/Shurtleff arrests

Posted at 10:33 AM, Jul 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-15 15:59:06-04

SALT LAKE CITY — FOX 13 has received the following statements regarding the arrests of former Utah Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow:

Governor Gary Herbert
“This is a sad day for Utah. The entire situation, regardless of how the legal process plays out, is a black eye for our state. While we respect the rule of law and due process, this serves as a reminder that nobody is above the law and, if anything, public servants must be held to a higher standard.”

Attorney General Sean Reyes
“This is a difficult day in the long and distinguished history of the office of the Utah Attorney General. Sadly, two men who served as leaders of our office have been charged with crimes alleged to have taken place during their administrations. I do not prejudge them and fully recognize that every defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Neither do I defend or condone any of the alleged conduct. I have faith in our judicial system and confidence that, ultimately, justice will be served. I encourage the public to have patience and confidence in the process as well.

While our office will continue to cooperate with agencies investigating and prosecuting these cases, my chief concern today is to recognize the hundreds of outstanding public servants who work as attorneys, staff, and investigators in the Utah Attorney General’s Office. Each is diligently working to do the people’s business with excellence and great professionalism. They could be earning much higher salaries in the private sector but choose to serve the people of Utah, often without the positive acknowledgement they deserve. The House Special Investigators took great care to recognize and draw distinction between the professionals in the Utah Attorney General’s Office and any allegations or conclusions regarding former office-holders.

Since my appointment in late December, my new executive team and many respected leaders throughout our office have worked unceasingly to create a culture change and restore public trust. Today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office has new and renewed leadership teams throughout the Criminal, Civil and Appellate Departments. Divisions and sections have been refocused and even reorganized based on exhaustive research and careful assessment. The professionals on our team will continue to roll up our sleeves, stay hard at work, and defend the laws of our state while protecting Utah citizens and businesses against violent crime and white collar fraud.
Despite strong and differing opinions, and valid disagreement regarding important cases we are handling on behalf of the State, one area where all Utahns can agree is the need for the highest level of integrity in public service. We have and will continue to implement policies, protocols, and practices that demand such an elevated standard for the Attorney General’s Office.”

Sen. Jim Dabakis
“Former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff have been arrested. It is a day of great sorrow and shame for Utah.
But, the problem remains. ‘Pay for Play’ is still the name of the game, it is the heart of the problem. And nothing has changed.
Utah still has no limits on contributions to campaigns! This needs to end. If the arrest of two Attorneys General does not motivate such a change–it is hard to understand what will.

In Utah, no amount of money from PACs, Corporations, Labor Unions or special interests is too much. No amount of contributions from people or corporations doing business with the state is too much. Utah is only one of three states with such a gaping hole in campaign contributions.

It is a disappointment that the multimillion dollar Dunnigan Special Committee avoided serious solutions to the broader issue by failing to recommend serious campaign finance reform. Unfortunately, so far, the ‘honey pot’ cash allure of unlimited tainted money is greater then staying clear of, at least, the appearance of conflict.”

Kirk Jowers, The Hinckley Institute of Politics

Charles Stormont
“I am disappointed and saddened by the arrests today. A cloud continues to hang over the Attorney General’s Office. Fundamental structural reforms in the office are long overdue, yet nothing has been done to ensure these problems never happen again.

The ongoing investigation is a distraction for the people of this great State and the staff in the Attorney General's Office. I'm worried that we're not doing enough to change the structures left by Swallow and Shurtleff. It is imperative that the next Attorney General restore public faith and trust in our top law enforcement official.

There are solutions and steps we can take to restore the public trust and to fix the structure that allowed this to happen. I have called for the creation of a State Ethics Office, which this situation, more than any other, has demonstrated is desperately needed. We should also implement best practices that encourage collaboration and communication in the Attorney General's Office. We must make real changes in the way to Office is structured -- shuffling a few cards in the deck is not the answer.”

Department of Public Safety
"In May of 2012, the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS), State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) was asked by representatives in the Utah Attorney General's Office to conduct a criminal investigation into the alleged criminal activity of Timothy Lawson. Lawson's activities appeared to be related to the investigation of Marc Jenson by the Attorney General's office. The case was referred to the Utah Department of Public Safety due to an alleged relationship, and potential conflict of interest, between Marc Jenson, Timothy Lawson and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

Utah DPS assigned an SBI investigator along with support personnel, and identified the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office as having prosecutorial jurisdiction. As the case progressed, DPS became aware of a related FBI investigation. The federal and state agencies shared information and worked in a coordinated effort looking at state laws designed to address public corruption and other crimes. To date, the joint investigation has led to charges against Timothy Lawson, Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow."