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Legal twist: Candidate must take leave to run against boss

Published June 25, 2014 5:58 pm

Attorney general • Law requires assistant AG to take leave to run.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

As Democrat Charles Stormont seeks to become Utah's top law-enforcement officer, an arcane part of Utah law is about to cost him some money and create an extra handicap in his uphill race to challenge his boss, Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes.

Stormont, an assistant attorney general, will begin a required leave of absence on Wednesday.

"It's a statutory requirement because I'm a merit employee of the state," Stormont explains. Elected officials, of course, need not take leaves as they seek re-election.

"The leave is required after the primary election," which occurs Tuesday, he said. So Stormont officially begins his leave on Wednesday.

At that point, "I'm not allowed to use any vacation time," he says.

"I lose my paycheck. I'm able to keep my benefits, but I have to pay for them out of my pocket."

He adds: "So it's certainly a financial impact to me. That's how serious we are about this, that we're willing to do that in order to bring some change to the attorney general's office."

So with his extra time on Wednesday, Stormont plans the official kickoff to his campaign at 10 a.m. at the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City — and will begin full-time work on his run.

Disclosure forms show Stormont has raised just under $40,000 so far this year, compared with $154,000 raised by Reyes.

Stormont said that's enough "at this early stage to allow us to make it interesting."

He adds: "Especially never having run before, I have to work to get my name out. So we will be doing a lot of groundwork to meet voters and talk to them about their concerns, and let them know how we would do things differently."

State law requiring his leave will make sure he has plenty of time to do that in the coming months before the Nov. 4 election.