The opinions stated in this column are solely those of the author and not of The Davis County Clipper.
In her best-selling novel “The Thirteenth Tale”, author Diane Setterfield has the lead character comment on human frailty:
“I have written about people who don’t care for money,” says the character, “but I never expected to meet oneЙPeople whose lives are not balanced by a healthy love of money suffer from an appalling obsession with personal integrity.”
Personal integrityСand that brings us to the sordid legal drama of our two former state attorneys general.
Since I’m not a lawyer, I’m not certain whether Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow will be found guilty by a jury of their peers.
The O.J. Simpson trial left most of us with a healthy skepticism that jury members have ears and brains. But whether convicted or not, Shurtleff and Swallow will certainly be viewed by most Utahns as high-flying scoundrels, and their future influence in Republican Party politics has evaporated faster than applause for Brazil in the World Cup.
Even more telling than the multiple chargesСsoliciting bribes, evidence and witness tampering, falsifying government recordsСwas the response of the two.
Swallow was the wiser of the pair, generally keeping his mouth shut; Shurtleff embarrassed himself by claiming a political witchhunt by a Democratic prosecutor, ignoring the fact that leading Republicans from county attorney Troy Rawlings to Rep. Jim Dunnigan to Gov. Gary Herbert voiced ranging measures of disgust over what they discovered.
Shurtleff also dropped points when he whined about the “sacrifice” his family suffered when he took a public service job.Hey, Mark, we don’t feel sorry for a guy pulling in a six-figure income plus a load of government benefits.
I’ll save my sympathy for the thousands of Utah families who don’t have medical insurance, not the now declining bank account of Mark Shurtleff.
As mentioned at the beginning, the issue here is not only the law but personal integrity. A state attorney shouldn’t be investigating a suspect, then sleeping in the man’s posh condominium and driving his Ferrari.
All of us are guilty to a degree of not “raising a fuss” about an incident, a deal or a person surrounded by a foul odor. We shake hands with people we don’t respect and close our eyes to things we wish were different. Personal integrity
doesn’t demand we “call out” everything we don’t like.
But sometime in our life we will face at least one moment when we truly need to place personal integrity over monetary gain or even friendship. I still remember my father, a salesman, telling me one day that he had “fired a customer.”
“The man buys a lot of stuff from me,” he said, “but the guy says things that are just cruel and unethical. I went to the boss this afternoon and told him to put another salesperson on the account. The commissions I receive from his purchases are not worth it!”
It’s a lesson I hope I never forget.
Too bad John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff never met my dad.