Comments about ‘In our opinion: With arrest of Shurtleff and Swallow, it's time to consider an appointed attorney general for Utah’

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Published: Wednesday, July 16 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Sandy, UT

The Dnews advocates for an appointed attorney general but this is all on the voters who voted for swallow. The allegations that faced swallow were brought to light before the election but the voters elected him anyway over a seasoned county prosecutor.

Why? Because he had a D next to his name. Law enforcement offices should be non partisan and that is what the Dnews should be advocating.

Salt Lake City, UT

With the departure of Swallow, there was an opportunity to raise heck and upset the apple cart at the AG's office - just what it needs. But because of Utah's Quixotic crusade against SSM we got Reyes, probably a decent guy but not the sort we need to open the doors and windows of the AG's office to fresh air.

I received a lot of laughs and criticisms (from fellow left-wingers) when I proposed that Governor Herbert appoint Libertarin Andy McCullough AG (an office for which he has often run). He would have been just what the doctor ordered (and what fun!)

Now nothing much is going to change - Utah's one party structure will to see to that as the Deseret News says. But the D-News' prescription won't cut it either - it just means more Republicanism piled higher and deeper.

Bob K
Davis, CA

A poor solution.

Since other Utah officials can be called hacks who cater mainly to the church and rich mormon donors, they should not be appointing law enforcement officers.

A better solution would be for the church to make a statement that it wishes Utah to have the best possible Government, even when it means that some Government officials disagree with the church, sometimes. The church ought to state that the Constitution of Utah must come before any religion in running Utah as a secular State of the USA.

I don't mean that Utah should get atheists in office -- most of the candidates will be mormons -- but that the candidates should be encouraged to place the Constitution first.
Of course, they would also have to show good moral values to win election by the voters.

Good officials with good values will naturally please the church and its members most of the time. Hacks who have lds support but poor talents ought to be gone.

Murray, UT

Should we appoint all of our elected officials? Any position in Government can become corrupt.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

I am not sure why these charges are "shocking." The allegations and involvement of both these individuals has been in the news for months. The informed reader should be "shocked" if there were no indictments given the details being reported in a wide variety of new media.

Given the reality that both Shurtleff and Swallow are from the Republican party as is the governor and the vast majority of the legislature, one has to ask how making the office of attorney general a political appointment would guarantee that such misuse of public office would be stopped? Would not the attorney general be even more politicized as an appointee? Responsible only to those who appointed him and not the people of the state of Utah s/he is sworn to protect? Insulating the chief law enforcement officer by making him an appointee is a step in the wrong direction.

Ogden, UT

Appointed A.G.? Would that be like Erick Holder? Sheltered from the voters?

Atlas Smashed
Santa Monica, CA

Why not have stronger campaign finance laws?

Or even better yet, make lobbyists illegal and begin publicly funded elections.

Why not?

seattle, WA

I would love to hear the arguments about why Utah is a one party state. However, I know it will devolve into a LDS bashing or a spate of LDS excuses. Suffice it to say regardless of cause, a vigorous political competition is needed, but will not occur in the near future, whatever the sociological reasons.

I do believe that the DN has a good point on campaign reform. Why not just make full, complete and rapid disclosure the law as a start? The best deodorant in the world is a good dose of sunshine. If people know from whence cometh the $ for candidate A or B, maybe that would inform them better on who A or B is beholden to. Rats hide in the dark, and flourish in dank corners.

Wasatch Front, UT

The AG would be subject to similar conflicts of interest whether elected or appointed. Just look at the issues we have had with Holder at the national level.


This is a terrible idea. For one, this means that whatever side (democratic or republican) wins the governor's race, they automatically win the AG as well. This increases cronyism, allowing the gov to appoint whichever of his buddies he chooses (regardless of merit), and increases the chances of corruption as the gov can now use the AG to shield his buddies. You want to get corruption out of the AG office? Elect Charles Stormont.

Salt Lake City, UT

Bad idea. The attorney general should be independent of the governor, lest he or she be reluctant to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing within the executive branch for fear of losing his or her appointment.

The only viable way to have an appointed AG is to have candidates vetted by an independent, bi-partisan commission. But that's one more step removed from government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Elections certainly have their flaws, and campaign law reform is long overdue in Utah, but at least with elections we only have ourselves to blame when we vote a bad apple into office. The founders of Utah's constitution were wise in requiring the AG to be elected.

Bountiful, UT

JustGordon nails it. These charges are not shocking.

What actually *is* alarming is that this situation is just now considered "shocking".

I would imagine a fairly high percentage of Utah voters still have no idea this is going on, because they're on a cruise control, their electoral choices predetermined long before the candidates are even named.

Everett, 00

I'm not so upset with the arresting of these 2,

as I am with the REPUBLICANS who --
Voted for them,
rather than admitting they were snookered --

Fell on their swords defending the un-defendable,
and when that wasn't enough,
attacked those who WERE investigating as being politically motivated,
and when that wasn't enough,
STILL are defending them for being Republicans and "good" Mormons.

BTW --
We just spent 3 weeks stupdying King David in Gospel Dotrine,
the lesson is sometimes even "good" people make serious mistakes and SINS.

Defending their evil acts, is not what we are supposed to do,
but rather hope, pray and help them "repeant" of their sins...

BTW -- Defending someone because their Political Party is how the Nazis got away with everything they did...

Somewhere in Time, UT

Just Gordon: The point is that an appointed Attorney General couldn't accept campaign contributions that might be misused.

We do need a good two party system. Unfortunately the Democrats have made that almost impossible. Very few people in this state can support the Democrat platform in good conscience or vote for a candidate who does support it. The Democrats have no one to blame but themselves for this.

Tooele, UT

Re: ". . . it's time to consider an appointed attorney general for Utah"

Yeah, that'll fix everything. Then, instead of sucking up to voters and campaign contributors, the AG can suck up to, cover for, deflect criticism of, and legally protect the governor who appointed him -- right or wrong.

That works so well in the federal system -- not. Just look at Obama's Holder, or Nixon's Mitchell. Or, even better, look at the thoroughly politicized federal judiciary.

Removing government officials from accountability to the people -- particularly those with nearly unfettered discretion in matters of importance to real people -- is never a good idea.

DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Officials can go bad regardless of how they get into office, via ballot or appointment. It is important that bad conduct can be detected and punished. The system works.

Appointing powerful state officials accumulates power in the hands of the Governor who would appoint the AG. That is much more likely to be abused than the current system.

Voters need a choice, and they need the power to throw out an AG at regular intervals via the ballot box.

As others have pointed out, the example of Eric Holder's conduct in office is proof that having an appointed AG can prevent prosecution of massive corruption throughout government agencies. That is a far worse disaster than when corruption is confined to a single office, even the AG's office.

We have checks and balances, and still (barely) the rule of law. And, it works. Otherwise two former Attorneys General would not have been arrested.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Usually I would have a problem with this, because I have a fundamental belief that the people should CHOOSE their leaders (through a fair election process). But in a way, the job of AG should not be an elected position (The President APPOINTS his AG for instance).

Who becomes AG should not be determined by who will promise the most goodies, or the most investigations, or the most political attacks (for votes). He's the legal council for the Governor and Legislature (they consult him and his department to determine if a law is legal or not before trying to pass it)... so I'm OK letting the Governor appoint the AG... the same way he appoints the rest of his cabinet. We don't vote on who will head up the DOT, Energy Dept, Education, etc. They are appointed.

The AG works closely with the Governor AND legislature, so it SHOULD be someone they can work well with. Not a political adversary, who's trying to stop everything and make the Governor look bad.

It's in the Governor's interest to appoint an AG with integrity. If AG messes up... they BOTH look corrupt... and get unelected.

Salt Lake City, UT

I disagree that the AG should be appointed. It should be an elected office.

Two party system? We have multiple parties but the people seem to gravitate to the R party. Perhaps a more enlightened electorate would consider what are called the Fringe parties. It is obvious that the D party doesn't fly with most of the state, except for the capitol city and it's east bench.

Folks, this was not done in a vacuum. I am of the opinion that other people in the current and former state government knew of the trips, and the associations yet did or said nothing. Why?

The newspapers were curiously quiet, with the budget constraints on printed media and the desire of media in general not to make waves it appears investigative journalism is on life support. Go along to get along, keeps advertisers happy and buying space and air time.

Open and prompt disclosure of campaign finances and vigorous public debate, without moderator other than to keep time might prove interesting as all candidate could ask any question or speak to any subject and face questions and comment. A republican democracy takes time and involved citizens.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

DN Subscriber has point. "Officials can go bad regardless of how they get into office, via ballot or appointment".

And I think it's important to point out that Officials CAN go bad regardless of the letter by their name. Sorry... just electing Democrats does NOT solve the problem. My watching politics for years has shown me BOTH parties are EQUALLY prone to corruption. There is no political party that is immune. I think that's why the founding fathers gave us FREQUENT opportunities to remove/replace our officials (because TIME in office is also a contributing factor when it comes to "corruption").

We either need a better way for the public to get to know the AG candidates and their personal integrity (not just their legal qualifications, or their political promises)... OR let the person with the most to lose appoint his AG (the Governor).

That puts a LOT of responsibility on the Governor. But that may be a good thing. He is obligated to pick a person he knows intimately and is willing to gamble his whole career on that person's integrity. Because if he messes up... it ends BOTH of their careers.

Parsons, KS

Do people seriously think that the average Mormon Democratic person running for an office in Utah, actually disagrees with the church and agrees with their party platform? I don't agree with all of the GOP or DEM platform. Their platform is also nearly meaningless is most local elections.

What the DN is trying to hint to, is that The man Shurtleff ran against was also LDS, and he wasn't less of a member because he was on the DEM ticket. He's now a Temple President. Does that sound like a man who has issues with the church? At least when Shurtleff first ran, their wasn't a hint of who he truly was. Swallow though is literally embarrassing. He never even made it to election day before his lack of integrity was showing. But Utah Mormons voted for him anyways. Stop voting for the party, and vote for the person instead.

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