A.G. candidate Frank Mylar charged with felony for allegedly bribing challenger with job offer

Mylar, who finished last in the 2024 Republican primary election, allegedly offered fellow candidate Trent Christensen a post in the attorney general’s office if Christensen would endorse him.

Former Republican attorney general candidate Frank Mylar was charged Wednesday for allegedly attempting to bribe opponent Trent Christensen with a job in the Utah attorney general’s office if Christensen endorsed Mylar and Mylar then won the 2024 primary election.

The charge, one count of third-degree felony bribery in elections, carries a potential penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine if Mylar is convicted.

According to the charges, on the morning of April 19, eight days before the Republican state nominating convention, Mylar sent Christensen a text message that included the sentence, “If you could endorse me before the convention I would definitely include you in my office. Think about it for a few days. Thx. Good luck today.”

Mylar followed it up six hours later trying to retract the offer with a text that read, “Please disregard that text. I’m internal. Didn’t mean to send it. Sorry to bother you. It is not an offer etc.” He later sent two more texts apologizing.

Christensen believed the offer was an attempted bribe and filed a report with the Murray City Police Department.

“I didn’t want it to affect the election. I don’t believe in that, but I am a member of the bar and I have an ethical duty to report it,” Christensen told The Salt Lake Tribune in June.

Murray police confirmed in late June that they had completed the investigation and forwarded the case to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill to determine if charges should be filed.

“We appreciate Mr. Christensen coming forward with the information about this alleged crime in a timely manner to law enforcement. We also appreciate the Murray Police Department for conducting a thorough investigation,” Gill said in a news release Wednesday morning. “All persons accused of wrongdoing are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.”

Under Utah law, it is illegal to “give, offer, or promise any office, place, or employment” to any person in order to gain their political support in an election.

Mylar won the most support from delegates at the Republican convention, but finished behind Derek Brown, the winner of the primary, and Rachel Terry. Mylar received nearly 24% of the vote, according to county canvasses.

Brown now faces Democratic nominee Rudy Bautista and United Utah Party nominee Michelle Quist in the November election. (Quist is a former columnist and editorial board member of The Salt Lake Tribune.) The winner will replace Attorney General Sean Reyes, who opted not to seek another term in office amid scrutiny of his own conduct while he was in office.

Mylar did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the charges Wednesday.

He also did not return a phone message or email about the investigation in June, but in May, when Christensen first made the allegation, Mylar told the Deseret News that he had drafted a text before heading to court in which Mylar “asked [Christensen] to endorse me before the state convention and I would find him a place in the office.”

When he realized he had sent the message, Mylar said he “immediately retracted the text to Trent, said it was a mistake, that I was in trial, and it was a mistake and not an offer.”

In 2008, then-state Rep. Mark Walker was accused of offering his Republican opponent, Chief Deputy Treasurer Richard Ellis, a job in Walker’s administration and a significant raise if Ellis would drop out of the race for state treasurer.

Walker resigned from the Legislature a day before a formal ethics investigation was set to begin and he was charged with a Class B misdemeanor in the case. Gill, then a city prosecutor, handled that case as well. Walker entered a plea in abeyance, whereby if he was not charged with any other crimes for a year, the charge would be dropped. The charge was dismissed in February 2010, according to court records.

Help Utahns have access to trusted reporting this election year

The Salt Lake Tribune’s 2024 election coverage is free thanks to the generous support of donors. Give today to help continue this critical reporting.