Utah offers $600,000 settlement to ex-A.G. Mark Shurtleff

(Chris Detrick | Tribune file photo) Former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and his daughter Annie talk to members of the media after a committee hearing at the State Capitol on Wednesday June 18, 2014. Shurtleff has agreed to a settlement with the state for $600,000 in legal fees, pending approval by a legislative panel.

Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has accepted a pending settlement with the state for $600,000 related to criminal charges filed against him that were subsequently dropped in 2016.

Shurtleff said Thursday that he agreed to the payment — which requires approval by the state’s Legislative Management Committee — despite it falling short of the more-than-$1 million he owes to his attorneys.

“I just figured it’s time to resolve that and move on,” he said.

But the settlement does not end litigation that Shurtleff filed in federal court against the various state and federal law enforcement agencies that investigated him and his successor, John Swallow, on corruption-related allegations.

“I’ll feel validated when I have a civil rights judgment against the FBI and Salt Lake County and the state officer who perjured himself in search warrant affidavits and so forth,” Shurtleff said. “That’s still some time out; federal court takes a long time.”

While Shurtleff’s case was dismissed, Swallow was tried and acquitted. Last month, during a special session of the Utah Legislature, the state agreed to pay Swallow a $1.5 million settlement.

Because Shurtleff’s proposed settlement is less than $1 million, state law allows for the Legislative Management Committee — made up of House and Senate leadership — to either approve the payment or refer it to the full Legislature for consideration.

“We are aware Governor Herbert has signed off on the negotiated settlement agreement. As required by statute, the Legislature will schedule a Legislative Management Committee to review the settlement agreement and offer a recommendation,” House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, and Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said in a joint, prepared statement.

A spokesman for the Utah Attorney General’s Office — which negotiated the settlement — declined to comment, saying Shurtleff’s terms are not final until they are presented to the Legislative Management Committee. The committee is next scheduled to meet Oct. 16.

Shurtleff said individuals might object to taxpayers picking up the bill for his attorney fees. But he added that an even greater taxpayer cost paid for state and federal agencies to wrongfully investigate and prosecute him.

“Whenever someone is charged by the state or the feds, they have all the power of the government paid for by the taxpayers to go after people,” Shurtleff said. “That’s quite a lot of power you’re battling against, and I had to have the best attorneys I could possibly find.”