Sean Reyes timeline — From rising Republican star to Utah A.G. to cloud of scandal

He won multiple honors early in his career but will bow out as attorney general amid multiple questions about campaign spending and his ties to Tim Ballard and OUR.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes speaks to lawmakers in 2014.

Feb. 16, 1971 • He is born in California. According to Reyes, his father is half Filipino and half Spanish (he immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines); his mother is half native Hawaiian and half Japanese.

1994 • Reyes graduates from Brigham Young University.

1997 • He graduates from the University of California law school in Berkeley.

2006 • The Utah State Bar names Reyes — then working at Parsons Behle & Latimer — the state’s young lawyer of the year.

2008 • The American Bar Association names him its National Outstanding Young Lawyer.

June 26, 2012 • Reyes is trounced by John Swallow in the Republican primary for attorney general, receiving 32% of the vote.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) A negative ad about Sean Reyes was discussed as the House Special Investigative Committee reported on its findings in the John Swallow probe at Utah Capitol in December 2013.

Dec. 30, 2013 • Reyes is sworn in as attorney general, replacing Swallow, who resigned amid a scandal. Reyes becomes the first person of color to be Utah’s attorney general.

November 2014 • Reyes wins a special election to fill out the remainder of Swallow’s term, garnering 63% of the vote.

2014 • Reyes appeals a ruling legalizing gay marriage in Utah to the U.S. Supreme Court. He joins other Republican state attorneys general in a battle against same-sex marriage, arguing that allowing such unions will lead to “any group of adults” seeking that status and the “tragic deconstruction” of marriage. They eventually lose.

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gov. Gary Herbert, left, and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes at a news conference Oct. 6, 2014, regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to hear the state's argument in a defense of marriage law.

February 2014 • Reyes becomes aware of Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad. Six months later, he posts on Facebook that he “definitely will be collaborating and supporting (OUR’s) extraction missions.”

2015 • The Republican National Committee names Reyes one of the party’s national rising stars.

Feb. 3, 2015 • Reyes tells a group of Rotarians about his participation in a Colombia sting and promotes OUR. He says the operation saved more than 120 children in a single day.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Attorney General Sean Reyes speaks at the launch of a campaign to raise awareness of child sexual abuse in 2015.

Oct. 30, 2015 • Ballard and Reyes are guest speakers at the World Congress of Families IX at Salt Lake City’s Grand America Hotel. Reyes says he is on OUR’s advisory board.

January 2016 • Reyes goes “undercover” — wearing a T-shirt and black beanie — at the Sundance Film Festival, looking for human traffickers. He does not find any.

July 13, 2016 • Reyes holds a news conference to announce human-trafficking and child-exploitation arrests as part of Operation Broken Heart III, resulting in 71 arrests in Utah.

Nov. 8, 2016 • Reyes is elected to a full term as attorney general, winning 65% of the vote.

December 2016 • A child pornography investigation is scuttled because Reyes was allegedly taking photos on his cellphone.

Sometime in 2017 • The attorney general’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force receives a $250,000 grant from OUR — the first of several that will, by 2019, total $950,000. In 2021, a spokesperson says the attorney general’s office stopped taking OUR money when it learned that OUR was under investigation.

Sometime in 2018 • Reyes writes a scene for a proposed Ballard movie — a scene about the anti-trafficking exploits of Utah Attorney General “David Reyes,” who is described as “early 40s — energetic — Hawaiian/Hispanic/Asian of larger build — former MMA fighter now elected official.”

Aug. 27, 2020 • Reyes speaks at the Republican National Convention, where he recounts an OUR mission and calls Donald Trump a “warrior against human trafficking”

(Susan Walsh | AP) Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes walks on stage to tape his speech for the fourth day of the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020.

Nov. 3, 2020 • Reyes is reelected to a second full term, capturing 61% of the vote.

November 2020 • Reyes, a strong Trump supporter, goes to Nevada to investigate alleged voting problems there. He asserts “irregularities” were found.

Dec. 9, 2020 • Reyes throws his support behind a U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit challenging Trump’s election loss. It fails.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes in his office in 2021.

Sept. 8, 2021 • SECURE Strike Force and other police departments bust six massage parlors. The attorney general’s office says it saved human-trafficking victims and led to three arrests.

Nov. 25, 2022 • Reyes attends a World Cup soccer match paid for by the government of Qatar, the host nation.

June 26, 2023 • Reyes attends the premiere of “Sound of Freedom” with Ballard. On his social media bio, Reyes lists himself as an associate producer on the film.

July 20, 2023 • Appearing on Ballard’s short-lived podcast, Reyes compares Ballard to the great abolitionists in history. Ballard calls Reyes “one of my best friends” and says he provided indispensable support by vouching for OUR’s credibility.

Sept. 23, 2023 • Reyes posts on X, formerly Twitter, that he won’t run for Utah’s U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mitt Romney and teases a potential Ballard campaign, saying, “a dear friend of mine who is a great conservative, patriot, and warrior” will soon make an announcement.

Oct. 9, 2023 • Five women sue Ballard accusing him of sexual assault. The lawsuit alleges that Reyes’ close ties to Ballard and OUR provided assurances to donors that the nonprofit was credible. In response to the lawsuits, Reyes says allegations against Ballard “ought to be taken seriously.”

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Attorney Suzette Rasmussen, representing former employees and contractors of Operation Underground Railroad, makes a statement affirming the assertions by her clients of alleged sexual misconduct by Tim Ballard, the anti-human-trafficking activist, at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023.

Oct. 11, 2023 • State Sen. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, suggests that, on the heels of the Ballard allegations and his ties to Reyes, the Utah attorney general should be appointed rather than elected. Other lawmakers are exploring potential audits into OUR’s donations to the attorney general’s office and Reyes’ ties to Ballard.

Nov. 12, 2023 • The Salt Lake Tribune reveals the depth and breadth of Reyes’ campaign travel since his 2020 reelection, with donors supporting dozens of stints at high-end resorts across the country, in Mexico and in Europe — along with a Texas excursion to shoot feral hogs from a helicopter.

Nov. 14, 2023 • A bipartisan group of 26 legislators requests a sweeping audit of the office, including how legal decisions are made, details of trips taken by Reyes and whether staffers believe the office is being run effectively.

Nov. 15, 2023 • Reyes is elected chair of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Nov. 27, 2023 • Reyes is sued for allegedly using his official position to try to silence a woman critical of OUR and Ballard, who are also named in the suit.

Dec. 7, 2023 • The Tribune reports that Reyes will not seek reelection in 2024, becoming the third consecutive Utah attorney general who will leave office tarnished by scandal.

Dec. 8, 2023 • Reyes announces he will not run for another term and that the attorney general’s office will launch a criminal investigation of Ballard and OUR.