Mark Shurtleff’s version of justice looks a lot like payback

Watching the legal cases against Mark Shurtleff and his hand-picked successor John Swallow collapse was very hard. I was one of the first voices calling for Swallow to resign (which it took him a year to do), and the case by all appearances seemed to have been killed by incompetence, not on its own merits. While I continue to believe that the two of them are guilty as sin, the legal system performed as it should, placing as much emphasis on process as substance. This is the foundation of a…

Sim Gill, you need some wins

I’m starting to wonder what it is that Sim Gill does all day. As the district attorney for Salt Lake County, his job is to investigate crimes and, if sufficient evidence is found, prosecute perpetrators of those crimes. In the last few years it seems like he’s not very successful when it’s a high-profile case. Let’s take a look at a few examples. The first is the now completely botched investigation and prosecution of former Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow. The report compiled by the legislature was extremely…

A sweetheart deal? Unspam Technologies profits from the Utah Child Protection Registry with seemingly little oversight

“In 2004, I asserted that Unspam’s proposed registry would be ineffective at limiting or curbing unsolicited email.  In 2017, this has proven to be true.” – Pete Ashdown, Founder of Xmission The most pernicious of government programs are those that are small and unnoticed. Without oversight, they often deliver questionable value to a very limited audience without being recognized for such. These programs tend to fester for years or decades before getting noticed but are often hard to kill even when they are. By all accounts, the state Do Not…

Skeletons in the Closet: failing to vet candidates

Lately, Utah has seen a rash of candidates win public office while concealing a trouble past. First, John Swallow led the Utah Legislature on the most expensive legislative investigation in Utah history, bringing down both his and Mark Shurtleff’s political career before it was over. The criminal trial is ongoing. In Utah County, Greg Graves earned the Republican nomination before he was discovered to have filed multiple bankruptcies (and much later was implicated in the Ashley Madison scandal). Utah County is still reeling. Then, Utah Democrats watched in horror as Justin Miller, a…

FEC files complaint against Jeremy Johnson for illegal donations to Mark Shurtleff, Mike Lee and Harry Reid

This is why we can’t have nice things. In a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint filed in federal court, Jeremy Johnson is in hot water again, charged with violating federal elections law in 2012 by using  illegal “straw donors” to funnel up to $170,000 candidates for the US Senate, Mark Shurtleff, Mike Lee, and Harry Reid. According to the FEC complaint, first posted by the Salt Lake Tribune, Johnson donated the money in “the hope that doing so would help protect Johnson’s business interests from federal prosecution.” Johnson donated approximately $100,000 to Shurtleff’s…

It’s not a question of if Rep Justin Miller will resign, but of when and how

Utah is no stranger to elected officials forced to resign under a cloud of controversy. There is, however, a pretty stark difference in how they do it. Most recently, we saw John Swallow forced to finally resign as Attorney General as the evidence piled up that he ran a pay-to-play operation inherited from mentor and former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. It took ten full months of near-daily bombshells in the news for him to make this decision. During that time employee morale sank and his office accomplished little. The scandal meant he…

New Idea or A Timely Proposal? Creation of the Office of Inspector General

In his State of the State speech on Wednesday night, Governor Gary Herbert announced that he was working with Representative Mike McKell, Senator Deidre Henderson and Attorney General Sean Reyes on the creation of an office of inspector general for the state. In his speech, the Governor said that the position would be “one that will act as an independent entity to elevate and ensure the highest levels of ethics and official conduct in state government.” But this isn’t the first time that an Office of Inspector General has been proposed…

The HubCap Spin: Who will win the AG race? Stormont or Reyes?

HubCap Spin: Where the Rubber Meets the Road is a collaborative effort of Utah Political Capital (UPC) and Utah Politico Hub (the Hub). One person from each site answers a questions about upcoming races, elections, and issues.  Due to scandals that have left the previous two Attorneys General indicted, the Supreme Court Appeal of Kitchen v. Herbert, and a number of other high profile cases, the race for Utah Attorney General is among the most watched in Utah this year. QUESTION: Who will win the race for Attorney General? Democrat…

Money in Politics: The Wealthy Have Better Lawyers [Hub Debate]

Is it the voter’s responsibility to shift through the lies? Or is there a role for government in regulating speech and money in politics?   A recent editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune titled “Does Money Influence Politics? Oh Grow Up!” makes the argument that no amendment or regulation will keep those with money and power from exploiting any political process to amass more money and power.  The author, George Pyle, is 100% right.  He’s also right that it is we, the (sometimes) voting public, who have the responsibility of seeing…