Utah leaders react: From ‘sad day’ to step to restoring trust
Published: July 16, 2014 07:03AM
Updated: July 15, 2014 09:14PM
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Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert, left, listens as Attorney General Mark Shurtleff speaks in 2012

Tuesday’s arrest of Utah’s two former top law-enforcement officers — former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and his handpicked successor, John Swallow — on multiple felony and misdemeanor counts involving public corruption brought swift reaction from the state’s political circles.

Gov. 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.”

Reyes also hopes Utahns will continue to have faith in the office’s employees.

“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 acknowledgment they deserve.”

Charles Stormont, Democratic candidate for attorney general • “I don’t really want to pile on, but I want to talk about how we can make sure we will never see this again.” Stormont is calling for a state ethics office to give state employees a place to go when they have concerns about the actions of their co-workers and supervisors. He also wants to ensure state prosecutors have backup on each case.

House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo • “It is very sobering. It is unfortunate. I don’t find great satisfaction in any of this, in seeing other people experience pain. But in Utah, as the House did, when we find instances of misbehavior and corruption, we expose them and hold people accountable.” Lockhart helped lead a bipartisan House investigation into the allegations, which cost about $4 million.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy • “It highlights some of the troubles that were obviously in that office. Mr. Swallow was a staff member for Shurtleff. Of course, all of this will be adjudicated, but it is unfortunate, I think, for Utah that it has to be highlighted in such a fashion.

State Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City • “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.”

Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah • “Ultimately, what is important is that we hold people accountable for their actions. We expect more from our elected officials than what we have seen transpire in these cases, and there is no doubt this is an embarrassment for our state.”

Matheson argued that none of this would have happened if voters had picked Democrat Dee Smith over Swallow in the 2012 election.

State Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville • Dunnigan said the charges filed Tuesday justified his special House committee’s $4 million probe of Swallow. And when asked how Utah’s should respond to these actions, he said: “They can be saddened, but they can certainly take some comfort that the process worked.”

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox • “This is nothing to be celebrated in any way. ... If there is a silver lining, it is, as elected officials in Utah, we took this very seriously even when the feds did not, and we are grateful we were able to work toward restoring that public trust.”

The lieutenant governor’s office examined accusations of wrongdoing involving Swallow’s campaign, issuing a report that assisted the investigation leading to Tuesday’s arrests.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah • “I want justice to prevail.”

Former Utah Attorney General Jan Graham • “It is a terrible injustice to the great staff and more importantly to the people of Utah. I was always so proud and so protective of the office. I was honored to be its leader, even for just a few years.”