It’s been nearly two years since all charges of public corruption against former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff were dismissed after one of the most sweeping political scandals in state history. Now, he’s suing everyone who was involved in the investigation against him.
And he’s asking for $60 million.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday comes after Shurtleff’s request to have taxpayers cover his $1.1 million legal bill was denied last fall (though it can still be challenged with a pending breach of contract argument). This one focuses instead on collecting damages for emotional distress from his arrest, the search and seizure of his property, and his prosecution. It cites “humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and other pain and suffering.”
“I don’t think it’s outrageous,” Shurtleff told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It will be difficult to recover from, no matter how hard I work.”
The criminal case against the three-time attorney general, who was charged in 2014 with bribery, corruption and other charges stemming from his time in office, was dropped in July 2016. Shurtleff said since then he’s lost job opportunities because employers Google him and see the allegations. He and his family — his wife, son and daughter are named plaintiffs in the case — also face medical bills for the therapy they sought to process the police raid on their home.
“We’re in serious debt,” he said, noting they might need to file for bankruptcy soon.
Shurtleff intends to represent himself in the case, filed in U.S. District Court. He said he calculated the damages based on loss of income, reputation and hospital costs. It’s also about “trying to hold them accountable,” by which he means the many defendants named in the case — including Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, the Utah Department of Public Safety, the Utah State Bureau of Investigation, the FBI and some police agents.
Gill, who had not seen the lawsuit Wednesday night, said he “trusts the process” and would comment after he had time to review the case.
Shurtleff doesn’t plan to serve the complaint until he files an amended version within a week. (Right now, there’s a hole between the statement of facts and the claims for relief that jumps from No. 22 to No. 175 where he intends to insert more detailed grievances.) “Stayed tuned,” he joked.
Shurtleff and his successor, John Swallow, were arrested in July 2014 amid an investigation into allegations that the two accepted bribes and favors. Together, they were charged with a combined 23 counts. Both maintained their innocence and walked away without a conviction.