Democratic challenger calls for reform at Attorney General's Office

By Glen Mills

Published 06/30 2014 04:46PM

Updated 06/30 2014 06:10PM

SALT LAKE CITY- (ABC 4 Utah) – The race for attorney general is heating up, with the scandal that recently rocked the office taking center stage.

Democratic challenger, Charles Stormont is kicking his campaign into high gear.

"We are serious about making sure the office serves the people and not politicians," said Stormont.

He says reform is desperately needed following allegations of bribery, extortion and even putting the office up for sale against former Attorney's General, John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff.

"So far, I don't think we have seen any change in the AG's office in terms of structure and in terms of the way things are being done."

He is challenging his boss, current AG, Sean Reyes who was appointed by Governor Gary Herbert after Swallow resigned.

Stormont believes Reyes is falling short on restoring public trust...

"He has moved some people around and that's just a shuffling of a few cards without changing the deck at all."

Stormont is rolling out three structural changes he believes will prevent a similar scandal down the road.

First, is the creation of a state ethics office, where employees and citizens can report concerns.

"One of the things we've learned is that a number of public employees wanted to speak up, but didn't have anywhere to turn."

Second, he wants to change the way cases are assigned at the AG's office, to make sure attorneys have back up on every single case and are not left alone.

"Where they can be isolated and intimidated, which has been exploited by prior administrations."

Third, Stormont says he would reverse what he calls a restrictive press policy at the AG's office that may even violate First Amendment rights for certain public employees.

"We need to make sure those employees have the ability to speak up when it's appropriate, rather than being forced to choose between their jobs and speaking up for what's right."

We reached out to the Reyes campaign, but they said he was too busy to respond.

They plan to do so later this week.

Stormont is an employee at the AG's office, but he says by law he had to take an unpaid leave of absence to run for the office.

He does keep his benefits, but has to pay for them.

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