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Substance and Service over Politics and Ideology
The Utah Constitution says that the Attorney General shall, first and foremost, "be the legal adviser of the State officers.” Recent leaders have lost sight of this duty by politicizing the Office for personal gain, and the Office suffered for it.
By contrast, Charles is a public servant who has worked on the front-lines of the Attorney General’s Office for six years. Charles decided to run for Attorney General because he was fed up with the stories being reported about abuses in the Office. He is not running to make a name for himself or to position himself for higher office. Charles is different - he is not a politician. He is passionate about public service and the law. He will put those principles first, not a personal or political agenda. Charles has refused to take money from pay-day lenders and other businesses that receive hundreds of consumer complaints because those complaints should be scrutinized by the Attorney General’s Office. These businesses should not get a free pass because of campaign contributions. Charles puts his commitment to protecting consumers to work when he volunteers his time and legal skills to defend consumers against debt collectors in court through a program that he helped create at the Utah State Bar. It is that dedication to public service that makes Charles different. According to the Deseret News, Charles’ opponent was surprised by the breadth of the work the AG’s Office does. Having worked at the AG’s Office for six years, Charles knows not only what the Office does, but also why it does not work the way it should. Why should we entrust a troubled office with another politician who does not understand it? It is time to put the law ahead of political aspirations.
Ending Abuse of the Public’s Trust
It is time to make real changes to prevent future abuses of the public trust. Charles has worked in the AG’s Office for six years. He does not have a learning curve when it comes to making real changes for the better to make sure Utah never has to worry about whose interests the Attorney General is serving.
Charles will create a State Ethics Office to train government officials on their legal obligations to the public. The State Ethics Office will also investigate and (if necessary) prosecute violations of laws at every level of government in Utah. Similar offices exist in major corporations around the world, and it is something that is long overdue in Utah government. The State Ethics Office will have a hotline so that whistleblowers will have a place to voice their concerns and so that investigators can get to work when issues are raised. Never again will government employees be able to claim ignorance for their failure to comply with their legal obligations.
Charles will also modernize the AG’s Office to make it like other large law firms by assigning cases to teams of attorneys. With more eyes are on more cases, Charles’ reforms will have two positive impacts. First, it will eliminate the opportunity for a few bad apples to isolate and intimidate public servants as has been reported under prior administrations. Second, our tax dollars will go further because work product and office morale will improve. These changes are long overdue.
None of these changes will cost the taxpayers a dime. Charles will fund his reforms by cutting his opponent’s bloated executive management team.
Charles will get to work immediately. He will not waste months traveling to party fundraisers or cavorting with Washington lobbyists. And he certainly isn’t worried about his bid for another office.
As a father of two, keeping our kids safe from predators is personal to Charles. That’s why Charles will work to bring back administrative subpoenas that his opponent thoughtlessly eliminated. These important law enforcement tools stop child predators and are critical to protecting our children in certain situations. Checks need to be put in place to ensure we also respect the rights of citizens to be free from unreasonable searches, but we must restore those tools that are needed to protect our children.
Charles will also work to resolve a budgeting crisis in the AG’s Office. When the Office spends hundreds of thousands of dollars litigating politically motivated cases, other parts of the Office suffer. That is why the attorneys in the Child Protection Department are currently overloaded, handling two to three times as many cases as recommended by outside experts. Charles will focus the Office on real priorities that actually protect children.
For too long, politics has had a hand in how laws are enforced in Utah. We need to make it clear that the rules apply to everyone, and provide our law enforcement officers with the support they need to do their jobs.
As your Attorney General, Charles will not shy away from investigating and, if appropriate, prosecuting companies that are misleading consumers. And Charles will not take money from them to help his campaign. The AG’s Office will not be for sale on Charles’ watch.
Protecting Everyone’s Constitutional Rights
Charles will not hesitate to protect every Utahns’ rights — from the right to marry who you love to your right to bear arms — whether or not those rights are popular with the Legislature or the Governor. The Attorney General’s job is not to pick and choose which rights to defend based on how it polls, but to protect every Utahns’ constitutional rights.
As Attorney General, Charles will take his oath of office seriously by advising the Legislature and Governor when proposed lawsuits have little chance of success and are certain to be a waste of taxpayers’ money.
The institution of marriage is sacred, and incredibly personal. One of the brilliant things our Founding Fathers did was to recognize that there are certain areas of our lives where the state has no business telling anyone what to do. Although the Tenth Amendment reserves many powers to the states, it also recognizes that states cannot intrude on our fundamental rights. Thankfully, the Fourteenth Amendment protects each of us from state intrusion into intimate family decisions. Charles will stand up for marriage — for everyone. He will not advocate for laws or legal interpretations that would empower the state to tell him or anyone how they should structure their families. And he will not waste taxpayer dollars fighting against marriage.
It has been suggested that it would be “a very dangerous precedent to allow an attorney general…to pick and choose which laws to defend.” Fox 13 News. This reflects a profound misunderstanding of the AG’s job.
"An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is, in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed. . . . If the legislative enactment under which he is required to act is in conflict with the Constitution, the Constitution and not the enactment prevails, and the officer must obey the Constitution or violate his oath of office.” State v. Candland, 36 Utah 406,104 P. 285, 290 (1909) (internal quotation marks omitted).
“[I]f the attorney general conceives that a statute involving the general public interests is unconstitutional, it is not only his right, but his duty to institute ex officio appropriate proceedings to settle the v[a]lidity of the legislative act.” Hansen v. Barlow, 456 P.2d 177, 180 (Utah 1969).
Utah needs an Attorney General who knows what his duty is, not someone who thinks performing his duty is “dangerous precedent.” We need someone with the backbone to stand up and fight for our constitutional rights when they are being infringed, irrespective of how popular a particular issue may be politically.
Utah is blessed with some of the world’s most spectacular lands that we all share. The Attorney General’s job is not to pander to ideologues and their lobbyists to score political points at the expense of our state’s natural beauty. Charles will bring common sense leadership back to the AG’s Office.
Should we pursue protection of public rights-of-way on federal land? Of course, there are legitimate laws that provide for these actions. But Charles will also exercise judgment and stop wasting taxpayer resources on litigation that has no legitimate chance of succeeding. Instead, Charles will focus on valid cases and work with local stakeholders to ensure that Utah’s interests are protected and our public lands remain an incredible resource for future generations.
The Right to Bear Arms
The right to bear arms as provided for in the Second Amendment is personal to Charles. When Charles was a boy, there was a man stalking his mom, but no laws existed at the time to keep the man away from his family. The local Sheriff took it upon himself to teach Charles and his family how to shoot and how to safely keep their guns for personal protection. To this day, Charles enjoys going to the gun range. Charles will protect responsible gun-owners’ constitutional rights.