Utah politicians react to arrests of Shurtleff, Swallow

Posted at 10:45 PM, Jul 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-16 09:47:21-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Gov. Gary Herbert called it a sad day in Utah and a black eye for the state -- but at least one high-ranking Republican disagrees.

Rep. Jim Dunnigan helped spearhead the Special House Investigative Committee, which ultimately led to what unfolded Tuesday, the arrests of Utah's former Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow.

Dunnigan said it should send a strong message to politicians and the public.

"Several of the charges that were brought forth today were straight out of our report," Dunnigan said, who chaired the Special House Investigative Committee.

Speaker Becky Lockhart commented on the arrests of Shurtleff and Swallow.

"No one takes any pleasure in what's happened today but what you see is the result of Utahns wanting to find the facts, wanting to find the truth," she said.

The Department of Justice decided not to pursue charges against the two Attorneys General but that didn't stop local investigators from continuing their work.

"When the federal government decided not to investigate any longer, when they said there was nothing there, there was a lot of pressure on the Lt. Governor's office to stop their investigation. We decided that was not the right way to go," said Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox.

The Lt. Governor's probe alone led to new campaign finance laws, but some say it's not enough. Peter Corroon, the chairman of the State's Democratic Party, said power leads to corruption and right now Utah's Republican stronghold is too strong.

"What happened today is endemic of something bigger that we need to tackle, which is campaign finance reform and ethics in the State of Utah," Corroon said.

The House investigation cost nearly $4 million and was funded by taxpayers.

Dunnigan said it was worth every penny.

"I hope the perception that Utahns take away from this is this: their legislators listened to their concerns," Dunnigan said.