Swallow headlines spark question: Should Utah attorney general be elected or appointed?

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  • Davis Co. Republican Woods Cross, UT
    May 17, 2013 4:46 p.m.

    Unlike any other elected official, an attorney general decides who get prosecuted criminally and put in jail. Or who doesn't. Although many people believe that the state’s attorney general represents "we the people", the Utah Constitution makes it clear that he is the legal advisor to the governor and other state officials.

    Utah Const. Art. VII, Sect. 16. Utah Code Ann. 67-5-1, provides that the attorney general has an "attorney-client relationship" with the state and shall "prosecute or defend all causes to which the state or any officer, board, or commission of the state in an official capacity is a party, and take charge, as attorney, of all civil legal matters in which the state is interested."

    If you think the attorney general represents you as a citizen and voter, then I challenge you to call his office an ask for legal advice. They won't give it to you, and will explain that they can’t. You are not their "client" but the governor is. This change from election to appointment would allow Utah to have the best attorney -- not just the best politician -- to become the state's chief law enforcement officer.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    May 17, 2013 8:35 a.m.

    The problem in the Shurtleff and Swallow cases is that they were very political persons in that office, anyway. In some places, politics and the law processes are so intertwined that you don’t know where one starts and ends. In Utah, the Attorney General in the past 12 years has become so much more of a political machine. Shurtleffs different offices he was elected to are part of the problem. He was also injured and sick quite a bit of the time, so his machine did a lot of the damage control, even including Swallow, his Chief Deputy and money gatherer or so it appears on Shurtleff's last election. The trips to exotic places with expenses more than paid for the influence that Mr. Jenson got by serving jail time. No good deed goes unnoticed. Shurtleff and Swallow are even better than Batman and Robin. They got their trip and their man Jenson ended up in jail. Now, Johnson is trying to not be in jail with these guys as his friend.

    Very interesting, as Sergeant Schultz in Hogans heroes would say. The Convention tomorrow will have some discussion on the sidelines. Where is FreedomWorks on Shurtleff?

  • Mighty Mouse Salt Lake City, Utah
    May 16, 2013 12:38 p.m.

    How do you spell p-o-w-e-r g-r-a-b? Do Utahn's really want to give more power to Utah's one-party government that already does most of the business of the electorate in closed door caucuses? I just pray that Utahns aren't as indifferent to legislators stilffling their voice as certain members of the legislature seem to hope.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 16, 2013 11:58 a.m.

    Either way, you won't get the best lawyer for the job. You will either end up with a politically connected lawyer who is appointed or else a politician with a law degree. Either way, you are not getting the best person for the job.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 16, 2013 10:32 a.m.

    The Utah Constitution, Article VII, Section 16 lists the duties of the Attorney General. His duty is to the State of Utah, not to a political party. If he were appointed, he would be beholden to a political party. His "judgement" would be tainted.

    The People elect the Attorney General to keep his office from being used by anyone in authority. He is required to prosecute corporations. What happens if a corporation has great influence on the Governor and the Governor has the authority to hire and fire the Attorney General? Who loses? We, the people, would lose.

    Keep things the way they are. Let the people elect the Attorney General. Let the Governor appoint a nominating committee to nominate judges, and let those judges be confirmed by the Senate. The Attorney General is not a judge. He is the CEO of the justice department, just as the Governor is the CEO of the State of Utah. The Attorney General must never be beholden to any elected official.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    May 16, 2013 9:31 a.m.

    Weiler is chasing a wild goose. The problem is not the way the AG is chosen, it's that this particular AG is a questionable choice at best. The voters should have known this, but it's not going to help to have the Governor or the Legislature appoint some crony as AG.

  • RockOn Spanish Fork, UT
    May 16, 2013 8:22 a.m.

    Strange debate here with more heat than light. Attorney General is often an appointed position... like in the Federal Government. The chief executive answers to the voters. If the AG is bad, the president or governor suffers. So a check and balance is there. In states where the AG is appointed the AG is no more "corrupt" than anywhere else. "Good old boys" network is a cheap shot with no proof or answer.

    In the end, I would toss a coin on this. I haven't heard a solid, intelligent reason for NOT appointing him just a lot of emotional ranting. Yet don't mind either way. Appointing him or her would eliminate some of the cronyism created by lobbyists who fund the campaign and make the AG beholden to donors. Electing the AG does provide a tension between AG and Gov. if there from different parties and that can be good.

    May 16, 2013 8:21 a.m.

    The problem with this thinking is that the Legislature probably would have appointed John Swallow.

  • Primary Chorister Salt Lake City, UT
    May 16, 2013 7:48 a.m.

    We teach this song in Primary. The word "honest" must mean something different to John Swallow than it does in my family.

    I believe in being honest;
    I believe in being true,
    That honesty should start with me
    In all I say, in all I do.
    I'll form good habits in my youth,
    To keep my word, to tell the truth,
    To speak up in defending right
    And keep my name and honor bright.
    I believe in being honest;
    I believe in being true,
    That honesty should start with me
    In all I say, in all I do.
    Words by Ruth Muir Gardner

  • isrred South Jordan, UT
    May 16, 2013 7:09 a.m.

    Seriously? There was a candidate in the last election who was MORE qualified than John Swallow, had infinitely more support from the law enforcement and legal communities, and had infinitely more integrity than John Swallow. Dee Smith should be our Attorney General right now. The problem was that he was a Democrat.

    The problem isn't elections, it's the indefinite, blind one party rule that leads to corruption. Do you honestly think that a Governor (who has had his own fair share of scandals and shady dealings) wouldn't be capable of appointing someone worse than what we are dealing with right now?

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    May 16, 2013 5:19 a.m.

    Electing people does have its faults, like separation of powers and out of the box thinking with different view points beyond what a lawyer is capable of. Every time a lawyer thinks he thinks long and he thinks wrong is has no imagination to explore alternative scenarios in a crime.

    No, we do not want to add the AG to the good old boy network of buddy corruption. We have the right to elect our representative and this must not be challenged and if they wish to challenge it they must have a constitutional convention then put it to a vote of the people and not the police department manpower. We cannot allow this much power to be chosen by graft, buddy rules, or the police department or political party oversight.

  • Kevin577 Kaysville, UT
    May 15, 2013 6:27 p.m.

    Let me get this straight. Politicians think the Attorney General should be appointed because raising campaign funds may taint candidates for that office, but apparently that same logic doesn’t apply to other politicians. Hypocrisy at its finest.