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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, left, and Republican attorney general nominee John Swallow share a laugh at a campaign event.
More punditry on Shurtleff & Swallow ...

Today’s papers bring more commentary on the Tuesday arrests of two former Utah attorneys general.

The Spectrum throws the book at them. Do does the dude from The online St. George News. (It’s really hot down there.)

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The Herald (which writes very few local editorials) urges patience. The Deseret News has a suggested solution which, perhaps surprisingly, bemoans Utah’s status as a one-party state.

Arrests of ex-AGs stain Utah’s image — St. George Spectrum Editorial

"The last two Utah attorneys general elected by the people got a taste of what it’s like on the other side of the prosecutorial process when they were arrested Tuesday morning. Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow — both Republicans — face multiple charges of bribery and obstruction.

"Their arrests stain the reputation of Utah. And while it should be noted clearly that they, like all defendants, are innocent until proven guilty, their arrests show there was enough poor judgment going around in the state’s top law enforcement office to warrant these kinds of investigations.

"Even if the men are found to be innocent of crimes, they are guilty of arrogance in the way they conducted themselves in their offices. And they are guilty of abusing the public’s trust. ..."

Utah’s darkest political hour — Ed Kociela | St. George News

"While it is true that people charged with a crime are innocent until proven guilty, it is also true that where there’s smoke there’s fire, which is why it would be a fool’s bet to wager that former Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow will be exonerated of the 23 charges filed against them this morning by the State of Utah. ..."

Let law, not politics, decide fate of Swallow, Shurtleff — Provo Daily Herald Editorial

" ... We urge all involved in this case to carefully consider the law, not politics, as details about this case roll out.

"We know that won’t be easy.

"Both Shurtleff and Swallow have been a lightning rod for criticism during the last few years and we already have seen many critics rush to judgment. ..."

Onus on ex-AGs’ prosecutors — Ogden Standard-Examiner Editorial

"... At the very least, the lack of ethics displayed by Swallow and Shurtleff is mind-boggling. They will forever remain the epitome of corruption, dirty money, unethical interests and special favors. They have dishonored themselves and disgraced our state. Whether their abominable behavior extends to both donning prison uniforms will ultimately be decided in court. ...

Time to consider an appointed attorney general for Utah — Deseret News editorial

" ... The essence of the ‘perfect storm’ here is the confluence of single-party dominance, no campaign finance rules and an elected attorney general. ..."

ICYMI, here are the two editorials we posted online Tuesday afternoon:

Shurtleff and Swallow will have their day in court — Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

" ... The glass-half-full way of looking at all of this is to note that, once the stink finally rose to public awareness, a state establishment dominated by Shurtleff and Swallow’s fellow Republicans launched multiple investigations into the charges. Even when the U.S. Department of Justice dropped the case, the local prosecutors — and the local office of the FBI — stuck with it.

"The glass-half-empty view, though, is that even after spending so much of their time and our money on a no-holds-barred probe, lawmakers still refuse to do anything to put limits on campaign contributions, the root of all evil in this and so many other government scandals. ..."

Shurtleff’s Bank of America deal deserves more scrutiny — Salt Lake Tribune Editorial


Shurtleff/Swallow: Let the blame game begin! — James Humpreys | Utah.Politico.Hub

" ... The truth is this challenge is a systematic issue with our voting population. It cannot and will not be solved with one simple solution that makes us feel better, just as a placebo can fake us out medically, when the sickness continues to spread in our bodies.

"A large portion of our voting population is woefully undereducated when we step into the ballot box. Another large segment simply chooses not to engage and vote at all.

"We care more about Dancing with the Stars, and it headlines our news and online social media networks far longer than our policy makers do. ..."

Utah Attorneys General Battle State’s Reputation for Being Pious and Boring by Getting Arrested — Ben Mathis-Lilley | Slate

"Two former attorneys general from Utah, one of our most churchgoing states, have struck a courageous blow against stereotypes by getting arrested for (allegedly) bein’ real sleazy. John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff face 13 and 10 counts of corruption-related charges, respectively, for allegedly accepting money and gifts from businessmen who were under legal scrutiny for dumb-sounding Internet get-rich-quick schemes and other boiler-room-style fraud ..."

Swallow, Shurtleff, and a culture of corruption – Paul Mero | Sutherland Daily

" ... The biggest mistake we make in discussing public ethics is to deny that we need ethics laws because nearly everyone holding office is good and decent. We have laws for a reason – not because they stop people from doing bad things, but because they help establish a culture of how we should behave, a culture of high expectations and rule of law. ..."

The 5 Wildest Details In The Arrests Of Ex-Utah Attorneys General — Dylan Scott | Talking Points Memo

" ... 4. Burner Phones And Secret Meetings At Krispy Kreme


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