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Mark Shurtleff

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Mark Shurtleff
Mark Shurtleff.jpg
Attorney General of Utah
Retired Officeholder
In office
Base salary$98,509
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2008
First electedNovember 7, 2000
Term limitsN/A
High schoolBrighton High School
Bachelor'sBrigham Young University
J.D.University of Utah College of Law
Military service
Service/branchUnited States Navy JAG Corps
Years of service1985-1990
Date of birthAugust 9, 1957
Place of birthSalt Lake City, UT
(dead link) Office website
Mark Shurtleff (born August 9, 1957, in Salt Lake City, Utah) is the former Republican Attorney General of Utah. He was initially elected to the office in 2000, and subequently won re-election in 2004 and 2008. Shurtleff did not seek a fourth term in the 2012 election.

On January 7, 2013, he was succeeded by his deputy attorney general John Swallow (R), who won election on November 6, 2012. Shurtleff now works for a federal law firm in Washington D.C.[1]

On July 15, 2014, Shurleff and his successor as Utah Attorney General, John Swallow, were arrested by the FBI and the Utah Department of Public Safety on multiple charges relating to alleged bribery, improper acceptance of gifts and a "pattern of unlawful activity."[2] These charges are thought to stem from the investigations that had followed Swallow into the attorney general's office and led to his swift resignation.[3]


Immediately after receiving his law degree, Shurtleff worked as a Judge Advocate General in the United States Navy, remaining there for four years. In 1990, he joined the private practice law firm of Smith, Smith & Kring as a litigation associate. Two years later, he transferred to the Law Offices of R.Q. Shupe where, as an attorney, he focused on insurance defense, personal injury claims, contracts, financial institutions, and medical malpractice. Shurtleff was named an assistant to the State Attorney General in 1994, a position he held for four years. In 1999, he was elected as Salt Lake County Commissioner where he helped manage a budget in the excess of $100 million.

Besides his professional duties, Shurtleff lends his time and leadership skills to myriad projects and organizations, serving in roles including, but not limited to:

  • Leader, Boy Scouts
  • Executive Committee, National Association of Attorneys General
  • Board of Directors, National Commission Against Drunk Driving
  • Board Member, Police Athletic League
  • Board Member, Rape Recovery Center
  • Honorary Chair, Utah Mentor Network
  • Member, Utah Prosecution Council
  • Board of Directors, Washington Legal Foundation


  • Graduated from Brighton High School
  • Bachelor's degree, Brigham Young University (1981) in political science and international relations
  • Juris Doctorate degree, University of Utah School of Law (1985)

Political Career

Attorney General (2001-2013)

Shurtleff was first elected to the post of Utah's chief law enforcement officer in the 2000 general election. He successfully defended his seat in 2004 and 2008, but did not file for re-election in 2012.

Healthcare reform

See also: State Attorneys General Against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

In the wake of the historic passage of President Barack Obama's health care reform legislation on Christmas Eve in 2009, Shurtleff was one of ten Republican Attorneys General questioning not only the constitutionality of a specific controversial provision within the Senate version of the bill, but also exploring potential legal challenges to the measure as well. The stipulation in question was the back room deal Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid struck with Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to recruit him as the 60th vote needed to pass the measure, an arrangement "dubbed the "Nebraska Compromise" or the "Cornhusker Kickback" by Republican critics." The agreement gives Nebraska exemption from its share of the Medicaid expansion, "a carve out that is expected to cost the federal government $100 million over 10 years."[4]

On the same morning President Barack Obama signed into law his controversial health care reform bill, the one that narrowly passed the United States House of Representatives just two days before, Shurtleff and twelve other Attorneys General, all but one being Republican, filed suit against "the federal government to stop the massive health care overhaul, claiming it's unconstitutional."[5] The Utah Attorney General called the federal legislative measure "one of the biggest federal grabs ever conducted of states' powers" and vowed to do everything within his power "to act in defense of its citizens' rights."[6]


Shurtleff's atypical position on illegal immigration first came to the fore in 2006, when he expressed his support of integration over deportation at a rally attended by thousands of illegal immigrants. At the rally, he chastised members of his own party who he claimed "tell me instead of speaking to you, that as the chief law enforcement [officer] of Utah I should be arresting you. [That's] not going to happen."[7] Shurtleff opposed the Utah Ballot Initiative A passed with 67.2% of the vote in 2000 that made English Utah's official language.[8] Throughout his second term, the attorney general continued to protest efforts to deny driver's licenses to illegal aliens and to assist the federal government in enforcing immigration laws, believing it to be a "detriment to public safety" as 'undocumented workers' would "be less likely to report crimes if they perceive local officers as federal agents."[9]

Later, in the wake of Arizona's 2010 passage of its crowning anti-illegal immigration legislation, known as S.B. 1070, Shurtleff reinforced his divergent path as a Republican leader on the subject of illegal immigration. He advocates alternative, less "restrictionist" approaches than Arizona's, which he considered "divisive, damaging to businesses and bad for public safety," and sought to make Utah a bastion for a reasonable, comprehensive reform to include provisional amnesty for some illegal immigrants.[10] Shurtleff distracted the conservative community by locking in endorsements from several prominent groups, such as the Sutherland Institute and The Church of Latter Day Saints, on a five-point reform immigration bill called the Utah Compact, which proposed increased identification measures modeled on Arizona, but also tuned into traditionalist principles about state sovereignty, family unity and free-enterprise, while he pushed through a more progressive provision to integrate certain illegals into the Utah tapestry.[11] Adopted in 2011, the inclusive package of laws features expanded police authority to identify illegal immigrants as well as a measure that gives some of them state permits as guest workers living in the U.S..


See also: Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

The June 2008 Survey and Scorecard report published by the embattled liberal political organization, ACORN, gave Shurtleff an A letter grade. The report was published to shine the spotlight on state attorneys general "leading the fight to protect homeowners from joining the flood of Americans losing their homes to foreclosure," so says the group.[12] The grade distributed to the individual attorneys general "generally broke down along party lines," with the exception of Louisiana's Buddy Caldwell.[13]

Pay-to-play scandals

  • Shurtleff reportedly attended the annual convention for Usana Health Sciences, a health and beauty company that has been accused of being an multi-level marketing scheme, in September 2004. There he gave a speech in which he endorsed the corporation.[14] Since that time, Usana has made substantial financial contributions to Shurtleff's campaign, with over $55,000 in political donations being made in 2008 alone.[15] This violates Title 67 - Chapter 16 of the Utah Public Officers’ and Employees’ Ethics Act which states that it is illegal for a public state official to "disclose or improperly use controlled, private, or protected information acquired by reason of his official position or in the course of official duties in order to further substantially the officer’s or employee’s personal economic interest or to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself or others" or to use his/her position in order to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself or others.[16]
  • Attorneys for Marc Sessions Jenson "questioned whether Shurtleff charged Jenson as a favor to a political donor,"[17] Ricke White, one of the three alleged victims who claim they were swindled out of millions of dollars each in an investment scheme supposedly perpetrated by their client. Additionally, White's wife was said to have contributed a total of $6,500 over a two-year period prior to charges being brought against Jenson to Shurtleff's campaign.
  • In September 2008, Shurtleff awarded the Salt Lake City-based law firm of Siegfried & Jensen a lucrative suit filed against the makers of the drugs Zyprexa and Vioxx. What was not reported, however, was that not only had the private practice law firm "contributed almost $60,000 to Shurtleff’s campaigns over the last eight years,"[18][19] they had also "hired Ambra Gardner, Shurtleff’s daughter, to work as a paralegal."[20] Additionally, "there were no bids offered for the legal work, just proposals which Shurtleff reviewd."[18]
  • On September 29, 2008, Shurtleff, writing to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) on his office's official letterhead, vouched for the services of DigitalBridge, a 4G wireless Internet provider, and enclosed the company's contact information with his recommendation letter. Eleven days earlier, DigitalBridge made a $10,000 contribution to Shurtleff's campaign.[21]


In 2008, the Utah Attorney General opposed federal legislation that would have protected health care workers who felt morally opposed to performing abortions from being forced to take part in the procedure. He believed that measure "would violate states rights to authorize emergency contraceptives to rape victims" and obliterated "the rights of patients to legal and medically necessary health care services in favor of a single-minded focus on protecting a health care provider's right to claim a personal moral or religious belief."[22]

Gay Marriage

Shurtleff opposed Utah Constitutional Amendment 3, the 2004 amendment which banned gay marriage/civil unions in the state, stating it would "forever deny to a group of citizens the right to approach its Legislature to seek benefits and protections. This is bad law and should be rejected."[23]

Gun rights

The Utah Attorney General filed an amicus brief in April 2010 expressing support for a disputed Montana law known as the "Firearms Freedom Act" that "exempts firearms made and sold in the same state from federal regulation." Litigative action have brought to federal district court on behalf of the federal government over the measure, arguing this interpretation of the Interstate Commerce Clause is incorrect. Though Shurtleff asserted that Utah would not involve itself further in the matter beyond the brief filing, the state will likely pursue litigative recourse should the Montana law be struck down.[24] Six other states - Alabama, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming - later joined Utah's friend of the court brief in the Montana case requesting that the court recognize that "the 10th Amendment is not an empty promise to the states, but a vital guarantor of rights retained by the states, including the right to regulate purely intrastate activities.”[25][26]



See also: Utah attorney general election, 2012

Shurtleff did not run for re-election in 2012. He was succeeded by John Swallow, who (R) won election on November 6, 2012.

2010 U.S. Senate election

Shurtleff's Senate Campaign Logo

Shurtleff announced on May 20, 2009, that he would be challenging incumbent Republican Senator Bob Bennett for his seat in the United States Senate.[27] However, on November 4, Shurtleff decided to suspend his campaign so that he can "spend more time with his 17-year-old daughter who suffers from mental illness and is in a residential treatment facility."[28] In the end, he endorsed a new Republican challenger, Attorney Mike Lee.[29]


  • 2008 General Election
    • Shurtleff won re-election to a third term as attorney general with a hefty 69.3% of the vote in the 2008 general election.
Attorney General, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngMark Shurtleff Incumbent 69.3% 650,147
     Democratic Gregory G. Skordas 26.6% 249,492
     Libertarian W. Andrew McCullough 4.1% 38,321
Total Votes 937,960


  • 2008 Primary Race for Attorney General - Republican Primary
    • Mark Shurtleff ran unopposed


  • 2004 General Election
    • Incumbent Shurtleff defeated Democratic and Libertarian challengers Gregory G. Skordas and W. Andrew McCullough, respectively, in the 2004 general election.
Attorney General, 2004
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngMark Shurtleff Incumbent 68.5% 607,393
     Democratic Gregory G. Skordas 28.3% 250,820
     Libertarian W. Andrew McCullough 3.2% 28,202
Total Votes 886,415


  • 2004 Race for Attorney General - Republican Primary
    • Mark Shurtleff ran unopposed


  • 2000 General Election
    • With 57% of the vote, Shurtleff was first elected to the post of attorney general of Utah in the 2000 general election, where he faced opponents Reed M. Richards (D), and W. Andrew McCullough (L).
Attorney General, 2000
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngMark Shurtleff 57.5% 435,998
     Democratic Reed. M Richards 39.5% 299,683
     Libertarian W. Andrew McCullough 2.9% 22,273
Total Votes 757,954


  • Primary Election-2000 Republican primary
    • Shurtleff earned 63% of the vote, securing the Republican nomination for the general election ballot in the primary election against Frank Mylar in 2000.
Attorney General of Utah, 2000
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngMark Shurtleff 63% 118,865
Frank Myler 37% 69,809
Total Votes 188,674

Campaign contributions

Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Mark Shurtleff's donors each year.[33] Click [show] for more information.


Shurtleff currently resides in Sandy, Utah with his wife, M'Liss. The couple has had five children together.

The attorney, public servant, and community activist has been recognized frequently for his professional and volunteer work.

Contact Information


Capitol Address:
Office of the Attorney General
Post Office Box 142320
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-2320

Phone: (801) 366-0260
Toll Free Phone: (800) 244-4636 (Utah Only)
Fax: (801) 366-0221
E-mail: uag@utah.gov

See also

External links


  1. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Shurtleff to take federal lobbying job," December 4, 2012
  2. Deseret News, "Former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow, Mark Shurtleff arrested," July 15, 2014
  3. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow, Mark Shurtleff arrested, face 23 charges," July 15, 2014
  4. Politico, "GOP AGs may sue over health bill" 24 Dec. 2009
  5. Associated Press, "13 attorneys general sue over health care overhaul" 23 March, 2010
  6. Deseret News, "Shurtleff: Utah to join lawsuit against federal health care reform" 22 March, 2010
  7. Deseret News, "Shurtleff shirks his duty" 4 June, 2009
  8. American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, "ACLU Withdraws Appeal of Official English Decision" 4 Sept. 2001
  9. Deseret News, "Legislators focus on illegal immigrants" 23 Jan. 2007
  10. "A Die-Hard Conservative, but Not on Immigrants," April 1, 2012
  11. The Utah Compact, "The Utah Compact," November 11, 2010
  12. ACORN "Attorneys General Take Action: Real Leadership in Fighting Foreclosures" June 2008
  13. Majority in Mississippi, "Jim Hood Received An “A” From ACORN In 2008" 17 Sept. 2009
  14. YouTube, "Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff endorses Usana" 30 July, 2007
  15. Follow the Money - Usana Health Sciences Contributions to SHURTLEFF, MARK L
  16. Justia.com - Utah Code
  17. Deseret News, "Marc Sessions Jenson fraud trial postponed pending plea deal" 27 May, 2008
  18. 18.0 18.1 Fraud Files, "Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff: More suspect campaign contributions" 26 Nov. 2008
  19. Follow the Money - Siegfried & Jensen Heavyweight Summary
  20. City Weekly, "Drug Deal: Siegfried & Jensen attorneys landed a huge drug case contract from Utah’s Attorney General. Did their hiring of Mark Shurtleff’s daughter seal the deal?" 24 Sept. 2008
  21. Follow the Money - DigitalBridge Contributor Summary
  22. The Utah Statesman, "Mark Shurtleff opposes new rule to protect Physicians right to choose" 29 Sept. 2008 (dead link)
  23. Log Cabin Republicans - Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff profile
  24. Deseret News, "Utah joins legal fight against federal gun laws" 7 April, 2010
  25. Sioux City Journal, "S.D. supporting Montana gun rights lawsuit" 8 April, 2010
  26. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Shurtleff leads 7 states in gun fight" 13 April, 2010
  27. FOX 13 "Mark Shurtleff U.S. Senate Campaign Announcement Speech" 20 May, 2009
  28. Legal Newsline, "Shurtleff ends 2010 Senate campaign" 4 Nov. 2009
  29. Deseret News, "Mike Lee enters Senate race against Bennett — with Shurtleff endorsement" 5 Jan. 2010
  30. U.S. Election Atlas, "2008 Attorney General General Election Results," November 27, 2008
  31. U.S. Election Atlas, "2004 Attorney General General Election Results," March 11, 2007
  32. U.S. Election Atlas, "2000 Attorney General General Election Results," March 11, 2007
  33. Follow the Money.org, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
Political offices
Preceded by
Attorney General of Utah
2001 - 2013
Succeeded by
John Swallow (R)