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Statesmanship, not partisanship, required in Attorney General selection

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In a May 18 Salt Lake Tribune Op Ed, I made a number of recommendations for identifying a replacement for John Swallow in the event that he left office before the end of his term.

Since that time, the extent of the nearly 13 years of apparent misdoings under the Shurtleff/Swallow regimes has been further exposed but we still do not know just how deep the problems run in the Attorney General’s office and how many attorneys and other staff members may have been tainted.

Now that both Shurtleff and his handpicked successor, John Swallow, are no longer in office, it is imperative that a process be put in place to ferret out any unethical or illegal practices in the AG’s office, to hold the former Attorney Generals accountable for any inappropriate activities that they may have been involved in, and to rebuild the office’s reputation, capabilities and effectiveness.

Members of the Republican Party Central Committee have the opportunity to put aside the routine partisan games played by “church ball rules” that normally surround the candidate selection process and to put the interests of the people of Utah first.

In order to restore confidence in the Attorney General and the Attorney General’s office, Central Committee members should seriously consider applying the following four principles.

1. The Attorney General appointee must be a person of impeccable reputation and have proven management experience.

2. The Attorney General appointee must agree in writing not to run for the office after his/her appointment ends.

3. The Attorney General appointee must be fully committed to cleaning out and rebuilding the Attorney General’s office in order to replace what may well be a culture of corruption with a culture of honorable, impartial enforcement of the laws.

4. Perhaps most importantly, the Attorney General appointee must be committed to immediately turning over all information he or she discovers about any potential unethical or illegal actions that either Shurtleff or Swallow may have been involved in to the county attorneys investigating these two former office holders.

Although this will require statesmanship in place of routine partisanship it can be accomplished if the will truly exists to do what is best for the people of Utah by cleaning up the Attorney General’s office and sending a strong message that unethical or corrupt office holders and civil servants will not be tolerated in Utah.

Hopefully, the candidates for Attorney General will not turn this selection process into a circus atmosphere complete with free meals, campaign signs, volunteers and swag.

Will the members of the Republican Central Committee do a better job than the Republican delegates and Utah voters did when the selected Shurtleff and Swallow to serve as Attorney General? And, will the Attorney General appointee make the citizens of Utah proud?

Only time will tell.

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