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Keep voters picking AG

Published June 5, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In "Appoint Utah's AG" (Opinion, June 1), state Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, makes an unconvincing argument that the attorney general should be appointed, not elected.

He starts by saying that the AG's constitutional mandate is to represent state officials only, not the people. In the same paragraph though, he calls the AG the state's "chief law enforcement officer" and blows by the irony without comment.

Weiler is right that elections politicize the AG, but he's wrong in suggesting that politics were the problem in the controversies about attorneys general John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff.

Careless citizens who reflexively marked the box next to the "R" elected those two. Since the voters did a lousy job of choosing the AG, Weiler argues we should take the responsibility away from them. This is an argument for eliminating democracy in general, and it suggests an embarrassing retreat.

Fundraising is the real problem. Shurtleff's and Swallow's flagrant abuse of it has undermined the credibility of the AG office and embarrassed Utahns. The solution is to improve the transparency of fundraising in AG campaigns.

While we're wiping the egg off our faces, let's include fundraising reform for all elected Utah offices.

Scott Endicott

Salt Lake City