Sean Reyes, former 2012 Republican candidate for Attorney General, was appointed to the office of Attorney General by Governor Herbert on Monday.
Reyes replaces Attorney General John Swallow, who resigned in November after almost a year of turmoil and scandal surrounding allegations of misconduct before and during his 2012 campaign. Currently, Swallow is under investigation for allegedly forging and deleting documents, mishandling and not disclosing campaign funds, as well as soliciting bribes.
Reyes was the clear favorite among Republican Central Committee members charged with replacing the seat, receiving the first of three recommendations from the Utah GOP by a wide margin. Herbert was required to choose between Reyes, Brian Tarbet and Robert Smith. Tarbet is currently the acting Attorney General while Smith was a favorite among conservative Republicans. Reyes received the appointment from Herbert based on his service in the public and private sector and the fact that he was not currently involved in AG business.
Reyes, who lost to former Attorney General John Swallow by more than two to one in the 2012 Republican Party primary, originally ran on protecting families, drug law enforcement and fighting the Affordable Healthcare Act. Reyes will serve out his term until 2014, where he is expected to campaign for a full term.
Under Utah law, if a seat is vacated by an office holder prior to serving half of the expected term, the office is up for reelection during the next even year’s election. Swallow vacated the office less than a year into his four year term.
“I am humbled by the responsibility and the weight of this office. I respect what it stands for and I’m deeply appreciative again, for the trust Governor Herbert has shown in me. My hope is to win the trust of all of the citizens of our good state over the next year to come,” said Reyes. Reyes also said that while the office of the AG did need to regain the trust of Utah citizens, he did not believe it required any sort of internal audit.
Democratic Party Chair, Jim Dabakis, said his was disappointed in the Governor’s decision. “The governor had the opportunity to select a strong person, a dedicated person who could have exclusively devoted a year to restoring the integrity of the office,” said Dabakis. “The governor could have picked a steward to clean up the mess left by [former Attorney General Mark] Shurtleff and Swallow. Instead, Herbert has decided to play politics-as-usual and again put his rabid GOP delegates ahead of the people of Utah.”