Mark Shurtleff vehemently denies allegations, has strong words for district attorney
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Mark Shurtleff appears ready to dig in his heels for an impassioned defense.
A little more than two hours after being released from jail, the former Utah attorney general held a news conference to vehemently deny the charges against him, while delivering strong words against Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.
"I admit that I am not perfect and never professed to be. I have made mistakes and errors in judgment. But I have never intentionally committed any breaches of professional ethics, misused or abused my office of public trust, and certainly never violated the criminal laws of this state or our nation," he said. "The charges of criminal wrongdoing are completely false. I look forward to the opportunity to clear my name."
Shurtleff also made several allegations against Gill, saying he believes the charges against him are politically motivated.
"(Gill) obviously delayed (Tuesday's) charges long enough — two years — in order to ensure that I cannot establish my innocence and obtain justice until after this November's election," he said. "Then again, he probably doesn't care as long as his political aspirations are bettered."
Gill responded by saying that even if he had waited until after the election to file charges, he still would have been accused of having political motivations. He reiterated that "no one single person drove this investigation" and pointed to the contributions made by the FBI, Utah Department of Public Safety, a House legislative committee and the lieutenant governor's office.
Shurtleff said Gill promised at one point that he would have five county attorneys review the case before a decision was made on whether to file.
Gill conceded Tuesday that while that was the original intention, it turned out to be logistically impossible. If that had happened, the case wouldn't have been completed until next year, he said. But Gill pointed to all the other agencies and departments of both political parties that did look at the case.
Shurtleff further noted the many search warrants that have been unsealed in this case contain many "falsehoods and omissions." At one point, Shurtleff claimed he was actually helping with the FBI's investigation by being part of a sting operation to catch Marc Sessions Jenson's head of security in a bribery attempt.
Shurtleff said he was later surprised and dismayed "that the very taping organized and coached by (the FBI) was evidence of my committing the crime of soliciting a bribe."
The former attorney general was also upset with what he called "political sideshow antics" of being arrested in front of his family at home, rather than negotiating a surrender, which he said he would have done. He called being booked into jail "sobering" but thanked the arresting officers and jail staff for being respectful.
Shurtleff said he believes the investigation should never have gotten this far and should have been dropped after the Department of Justice declined to prosecute. The DOJ's resources, he said, far exceed those of any local county prosecutor, and its agenda wasn't political.
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