BOUNTIFUL — The Utah Attorney General’s office has been getting a lot of attention lately, and the democratic nominee for November’s special election thinks it’s all been for the wrong reasons.
Charles Stormont says he wants to take the politics out of the AG’s office and set up a better system that would prevent scandals. He also emphatically declared that as attorney general – he would not defend Utah’s Amendment 3, which outlawed same-sex marriage and has been at the forefront of recent federal legal battles.
“Marriage is a fundamental right,” he said. “The fight to protect Amendment 3 is politically driven to appease delegates, and I think it’s a dramatic waste of taxpayer resources.”
Stormont visited the Clipper office to lay out his plan for non-partisan AG office, and to shed light on what he thinks Utah’s leading legal enforcer should be.
Stormont detailed some of his plans to make the AG’s office less “siloed” and “insulated” from the hierarchy, which he thinks contributed to some of the recent scandals involving former AGs Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow.
“(Current Attorney General Sean) Reyes hasn’t changed the structure in a meaningful way,” said Stormont. “It’s incredibly frustrating to me, and that’s part of why I’m running. Someone needs to set it up so the problems we had with Shurtleff and Swallow can’t happen again.”
Part of his plan to revamp the AG’s office includes measures that would provide “less isolation and more teamwork,” he said.
“You’re more efficient when you have backup,” said Stormont. “There’s a second pair of eyes.”
That plan would also include education for government officials, an investigation division and a safe environment for whistle-blowers.
“One of the issues we’ve seen is that a number of public servants in the AG’s office wouldn’t support what was happening, but they had nowhere to go,” said Stormont.
Speaking of recent scandals involving the AG’s office, Stormont said they have had an indirect effect on the race, but he respects his opponent’s commitment keep real issues in the forefront of the campaign.
“Reyes is as big a believer as I am in the political process,” said Stormont.
Mr. Stormont is also a staunch defender of 2nd Amendment rights and is a gun owner.
“I will stand up for everyone’s constitutionally-protected rights, no matter what they might be,” he said. “I’m a public servant, not a politician.”