Sean D. Reyes

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Sean D. Reyes
Attorney General of Utah
In office
December 30, 2013 - present
Term ends
January 2017
Years in position 2
PredecessorInterim officeholder Brian Tarbet (R)
Base salary$98,509
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
Next generalNovember 8, 2016
AppointedDecember 23, 2013
Appointed byGov. Gary Herbert (R)
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sBrigham Young University
J.D.U.C. Berkeley
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Sean D. Reyes campaign logo
Sean D. Reyes is the current Republican Utah Attorney General.[1] He has served in this position since his appointment by Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert on December 23, 2013. Reyes was sworn into office on December 30, relieving interim attorney general, Brian Tarbet, who had been filling in since the resignation of John Swallow. Reyes ran for election in 2014 to serve out the remaining two years of Swallow's term.[2] Sean D. Reyes won the general election on November 4, 2014.

Reyes ran for attorney general in 2012 but was defeated by Swallow, then the deputy chief attorney general under Mark Shurtleff (R), in the Republican primary contest on June 26, 2012.

An active member of the Utah Republican party, Reyes served as a member of the State Central Committee and as a delegate for the party on the local, state, and, in an alternate capacity, the national level. He was appointed by Governor John Huntsman to serve on the Third District Judicial Nominating Commission and spent years working on President George W. Bush's National Congressional Commission, conducting public hearings throughout the country to advise the Administration and Congress on Latino issues.[3] Prior to his appointment, he worked as an attorney and judge.


Reyes was born to immigrant parents of Spanish, Hawaiian, and Asian heritage who raised him in a predominately minority community in Utah. Reyes attended Brigham Young University for his bachelor's degree and then University of California at Berkeley Law School, from which he graduated with his J.D. in 1997.

Reyes eventually became a partner at Utah's Parsons Behle & Latimer, and was the first person to be awarded with the title "Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year" in 2008 by the American Bar Association. He has served as a small claims judge for the last 11 years, during which time he was appointed to both state and federal commissions, including a Presidential Commission established by former President George W. Bush.[4] He spent two years as an executive committee member of the Utah State Bar and was President of the Utah Minority Bar.

He is currently General Counsel for Utah media and technology company eTAGZ. Apart from his professional duties, Reyes devotes his time to community outreach programs. He has founded multiple non-profit organizations dedicated to education, business and anti-fraud awareness.[3]


  • B.A., Brigham Young University (1994)
  • J.D., U.C. Berkeley (1997)

Political career

Attorney General (2013-present)

Reyes was appointed attorney general by Gov. Gary Herbert (R) effective December 30, 2013.[2]

In summer 2014, Reyes reorganized the Attorney General's office by creating a new Markets and Financial Fraud division. According to Salt Lake City's City Weekly, this new unit "would consolidate different divisions devoted to investigating and prosecuting different kinds of fraud—Medicaid fraud, consumer-protection cases, mortgage fraud—under one roof to maximize expertise and efficiencies."[5] Alongside this reorganization, Reyes urged the Utah State Legislature to pass a bill establishing a registry of people convicted on charges of fraud.[5]



See also: Utah attorney general special election, 2014

A special election was held on November 4, 2014, to determine who would complete the term of resigned attorney general John Swallow. With his term not scheduled to expire until January 2017, Swallow's early departure in December 2013 prompted the special election as well as the appointment of Reyes to fill in the office during the intervening year. Reyes ran successfully for the right to serve out Swallow's unexpired term in 2014.

He won the Republican primary on June 24 without opposition, and defeated four challengers in the general election on November 4, 2014.


General election
Attorney General of Utah, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngSean Reyes Incumbent 63.1% 355,275
     Democratic Charles Stormont 27% 151,967
     Libertarian Andrew McCullough 4% 22,333
     Constitution Gregory Hansen 3.3% 18,722
     Independent Leslie Curtis 2.7% 15,108
Total Votes 563,405
Election Results via Utah Lieutenant Governor.

Race background

Special election circumstances
See also: John Swallow's controversies

In 2012, then-Chief Deputy Attorney General John Swallow was elected as Attorney General. Almost immediately Swallow was beset by scandal and controversy, leading to ethics and elections law investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Utah State Legislature. These events eventually caused Swallow to resign on December 3, 2013.

In his place, Utah Governor appointed current incumbent Republican Sean Reyes, who took office on December 30, 2014. Reyes came second in the heated 2012 Republican primary won by Swallow. Reyes ran to retain the office in a special election on November 4, 2014. He did not face any contentious campaigning in the primary in 2014 as he run unopposed for the nomination.

Reyes's major-party opposition in November was Democrat Charles Stormont, a lawyer in the Attorney General's office. Three other candidates faced Reyes and Stormont in November: Libertarian Andrew McCullough, Constitution Party candidate Gregory Hansen and American Independent Party candidate Leslie Curtis. Reyes won election to the remaining two years of Swallow's term.


October 1 debate

Sean Reyes (R) and Charles Stormont (D) discussed the office's recent past, same-sex marriage and polygamy during a debate in Provo. Reyes noted that when he was appointed to the attorney general's office, he "inherited an office racked with scandal and controversy." His solutions to these issues included improving salaries and requiring supervisors to participate in detailed evaluations to ensure integrity. Stormont countered that the office remained largely the same as when John Swallow held the office and promoted an ethics hotline that would allow citizens to blow the whistle on corrupt elected officials. Both candidates agreed on campaign finance limits and that they would not take campaign donations from sources that could create conflicts of interest.[6]

Reyes and Stormont heatedly discussed their stances on defending the state's anti-polygamy law and same-sex marriage ban. Reyes argued that the state needed to appeal a federal court's decision to strike down part of an anti-polygamy law, while Stormont called an appeal a waste of money over a law that is largely unenforced. Stormont also argued that the state should not waste time appealing higher court decisions on same-sex marriage as the U.S. Supreme Court will likely reject any appeal. Reyes stated that the attorney general has a duty to defend the state's laws in higher court.[6]


See also: Utah attorney general election, 2012

Reyes was a 2012 Republican primary candidate for Utah attorney general. He lost to John Swallow in the primary contest on June 26, 2012.

  • Primary-2012 Republican Race for Attorney General
    • Reyes garnered 32% of the primary vote.
Attorney General of Utah, Republican Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngJohn Swallow 68% 156,644
Sean D. Reyes 32% 73,868
Total Votes 230,512
Election Results via



  • Healthcare reform

Reyes cited repealing the Affordable Care Act as his top priority for the office. [8] On his official campaign website, Reyes said that Obamacare is just one example of federal overreach that stand to hinder Utah's economic growth. "As your Attorney General I will aggressively oppose the implementation of Obamacare and any other federal program that infringes on our state sovereignty." He also called the individual mandate, which will require people to purchase health insurance, unconstitutional.[9]


The 2012 Republican primary race between Reyes and Swallow was called "one of the dirtiest in years." Organized attacks by SuperPACs were mobilized against both candidates in the week leading up to the June 26 election, spilling over into the candidate debates, and resulting in at least one defamation suit, from Reyes, who accused Swallow of working illegally "in concert" with the Nevada based PAC "It's Now or Never, Inc," to run a smear campaign against him.[10] In 2013, the Utah House Special Investigative Committee presented documents that demonstrate the Swallow campaign's connection with the "It's Now or Never, Inc" PAC as part of that committee's "inquiry into allegations of improper conduct by Attorney General John Swallow."[11][12]

Most of the PAC-sponsored anti-Reyes TV and radio spots claimed that he lacked the rectitude and civility required of a high ranking public servant, based on a 1993 reckless driving episode and an alleged under the table cash contribution made to his political consultant. The latter accusation originated from a campaign finance reporting mishap in April involving a $5,000 reimbursement. The sum was "misreported"[13] as a contribution, according to Reyes, and the minor scandal was settled swiftly by the lieutenant governor's office, which oversees state elections. Reyes retaliated by suing Swallow for defamation of character, and by bringing up a disclosure incident from Swallow's 2002 congressional campaign which resulted in formal penalties, in contrast with his treasurer's mistake. "He knows he can't beat me when it comes to credentials, either legal credentials or leadership credentials, so he resorts to these kinds of bush league tactics," Reyes stated.[14] The UTE SuperPAC responsible for sending mailers and airing - predominantly radio - spots against Swallow accused the deputy attorney general of being a target of a federal investigation for intervening in a Salt Lake County bid process.[13] Swallow's camp insisted that the mailer in particular, which insinuated the candidate is poised for federal indictment, was a lie, and a "malicious hit piece and a potential violation of state law."[15]


Reyes currently resides in Cottonwood Heights with his wife Saysha and their six children.[3]

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External links

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  1. Deseret News, "Sean Reyes vows to restore 'integrity' to Utah Attorney General's Office," December 26, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1, "Reyes sworn in as Utah's new Attorney General," December 30, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Sean Reyes for Attorney General, "About Sean," accessed March 14, 2012
  4. The Wall Street Journal-Market Watch, "Utah attorney general candidate Sean Reyes garners widespread delegate legal business community support," April 24, 2012 (dead link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 City Weekly, "White Collared," June 25, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 Daily Journal, "Candidates for Utah attorney general debate ethics, defense of gay marriage ban," October 1, 2014
  7. CSPAN-Campaign 2012, "Election Results from the Associated Press-UT Attorney General GOP Primary," accessed June 27, 2012
  8. Sean Reyes, "Sean Reyes official declares candidacy for Utah AG," March 12, 2012
  9. Sean Reyes for Attorney General, "Issues," accessed June 25, 2012 (dead link)
  10., "Mysterious ads, slander allegations plague attorney general's race," June 21, 2012
  11. House Special Investigative Committee, "2A - Briefing on Investigative Findings," January 2, 2014
  12. House Special Investigative Committee, "Motion Final (Nov. 22, 2013)," January 2, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Desert News, "Republican AG candidates ding each other on campaign finance issues," June 19, 2012
  14. The Desert News, "GOP candidates for Utah attorney general engaged in nasty battle," June 18, 2012
  15. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Mailer alleges Utah AG candidate was investigated by feds," June 13, 2012
Political offices
Preceded by
Brian Tarbet (R)
Utah Attorney General
December 2013-present
Succeeded by