AG Reyes revamps senior staff, brings in two outsiders
Published: January 11, 2014 07:09PM
Updated: January 10, 2014 09:35PM
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Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes holds a brief press conference at the Utah State Capitol on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014.

New Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes named his executive leadership team Friday, bringing in former federal defender Parker Douglas to serve as his new chief of staff and general counsel.

Reyes also announced he is appointing Spencer Austin as his new chief deputy over criminal matters, replacing longtime chief deputy Kirk Torgensen.

And Reyes named Brian Tarbet, who had been acting attorney general and was general counsel under former Attorney General John Swallow, as his chief of civil matters. Bridget Romano will remain solicitor general for the state, but Reyes elevated the position to be part of his leadership team, and appointed Missy Larsen as the office spokeswoman.

Reyes has also asked all of his division chiefs to resign from their posts and to reapply for their jobs, meaning more shakeups in the leadership of the embattled office are likely.

Douglas is a former public defender and has practiced civil and criminal law at several firms.

He served as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell and 10th U.S. Circuit Court Judge Michael McConnell.

Austin has practiced law for nearly four decades, working on commercial, environmental and white collar matters at Parsons Behle & Latimer. He has been an adjunct professor at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law and taught in numerous conferences and seminars.

Both Douglas and Austin worked at Parsons Behle & Latimer, the same Salt Lake firm where Reyes spent years as a partner.

Tarbet spent years handling tax matters in the attorney general’s office before becoming adjutant general of the Utah National Guard. He returned to the office as Swallow’s general counsel last January.

Romano has been the state solicitor general since July 2011 and head of the civil appeals division. She joined the attorney general’s office in 1996, leaving for two short periods to work in private practice.

Larsen was a press secretary for the late U.S. Rep. Bill Orton and founded The Intrepid Group, a Salt Lake public relations firm, in 1994.

She started MWL Communications in 2004, co-founded the Utah Refugee Coalition in 2009 and ran unsuccessfully for the Salt Lake County Council in 2012.

Reyes was appointed attorney general by Gov. Gary Herbert last month after Swallow resigned amid allegations of favoritism, pay-for-play fundraising and evidence destruction.