U.S. Attorney Brent D. Ward announced Monday he is resigning effective Feb. 6 to go into private law practice - and he left the door wide open for an eventual run at office.
"One of my fundamental goals is to return to full-time public service again some day," Ward said responding to a question about elective service.He will be a partner in the Salt Lake law firm to be known as Rogers, Ward & Anderson. Rogers and Anderson will lose partner Ronald S. Poelman to another firm.
"By joining this firm I am giving my vote of confidence to Utah's economic future."
He said the firm focuses on corporate and growth financing, including the aerospace industry. He said the move will allow him to broaden his scope and "stretch some new muscles."
Among his main accomplishments, he cited helping to facilitate cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. He frequently telephones his state and local counterparts and they work together "without a sense of conflict or turf battles."
Speaking of his many public pronouncements against white-collar crime, drug abuse and mailing of obscene material, "I've used this (job) as a bully pulpit."
He does not mind being called a crusader but warned his successor there are "no easy victors and you better enjoy the fray."
He said he loves the job and with the election of George Bush he could serve another four years after his present term expires in July.
"Nevertheless, in a job like this, which is not a career position, there comes a point when it is time to move on."
He was accompanied at the press conference by his wife and four of his seven children.
In his prosecutorial swan song, he said he believes prosecution decisions made since he was in office have been just. He wanted people to know when crimes are committed "there was somebody ready to cut them off at the knees."
Ward was easily Utah's highest-profile federal prosecutor in recent memory. Yet his achievements go back even further than that.
While attending Highland High School in the early 1960s, he was student body president, a forward and co-captain of varsity basketball, a pitcher on the baseball team and a member of the a cappella choir.
Ward graduated from the University of Utah, where he was president of the LDS Student Association. He served an LDS mission to Germany from 1965 to 1967. At the U. College of Law, he was an editor of the Utah Law Review.
Ward was a member of the Utah Air National Guard. He earned his law degree in 1972 and worked as an assistant U.S. attorney for Utah from 1976 to 1978, prosecuting major criminal cases.
Ward was a law clerk for then-Chief Judge Aldon J. Anderson of the U.S. District Court. He served on the staff of former Sen. Wallace F. Bennett, R-Utah, and worked for the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.> He was appointed U.S. attorney in September 1981 and sworn in on Dec. 5. President Reagan reappointed him to a four-year term in July 1985.
One of his first public statements as Utah's top federal prosecutor was to crack down on the white-collar crime that made Utah infamous as the country's scam capital. He warned that if church affiliation is any part of a sales pitch, watch out - a fraud might be in the works.
He crusaded against mail obscenity and branched out to help draft state legislation to protect children from sex abuse. Last year, he fought against a bill supported by some Utah bankers and others that Ward thought would have reduced their responsibility to pay for financial misconduct.> In further assistance to the Legislature, he worked with lawmakers to strengthen rules against criminal fraud.
In Washington, D.C., Ward led the fight to ban obscene telephone services, called "dial-a-porn." The result was new legislation to curtail the pandering of obscenity.
He served as chairman of the United States Attorneys' Committee on Obscenity, Child Pornography and Organized Crime. He was also vicechairman of a 15-member advisory committee of U.S. attorneys.
He prosecuted such fraud artists as Grant Affleck. Last week he announced a new indictment resulting from an undercover "sting" operation aimed at penny stock manipulation.
Ward was active in the day-to-day prosecution of other Utahns. In 1988, these included the Singer-Swapp defendants and two Navajo Indians who murdered a pair of tribal police officers on the Utah portion of the reservation.
His continuous high visibility led many to wonder whether he was running for office. As the Deseret News' then-political editor, LaVarr G. Webb, reported in a 1983 column, "Is U.S. Attorney Brent D. Ward running for something? "No, he's not, he says, refusing to add even add the qualifier, `Not at this time.' He's just flat out not interested."
Now Ward will be in a position where lining up political support would not be a conflict of interest. Whether he is still not interested remains to be seen.>