SALT LAKE CITY -- Utahns for Ethical Government and the Alliance for a Better Utah are calling on Gov. Gary Herbert to pick a new attorney general to replace John Swallow who will not run for re-election in November of 2014.
Representatives from the two groups delivered a letter to Herbert's office on Tuesday urging the governor to restore the public trust -- by appointing someone who will not run for election -- as soon as he takes the oath of office.
The state Republican Central Committee is scheduled to meet Saturday to discuss a potential replacement for Swallow, who resigned Dec. 3 amid allegations of wrongdoing, and then forward the names of three nominees for Herbert to consider filling the vacancy.
Maryann Martindale, executive director of ABU, said Herbert has a chance to make a clean break from months of controversy surrounding Swallow to do something historic, in picking a non-political replacement. She suggested some of the eight names being discussed as potential replacements for the former AG are tainted because they have ties to Swallow.
David Irvine, legal counsel for ABU, suggested the very nature of the attorney general's office means any replacement would normally have to be in campaign mode, once they take the oath of office.
Dixie Huefner of UEG stressed that any "suitable replacement" for Swallow will have to be above reproach and provide leadership, in order to restore the public's trust in the office.
"Anyone who takes on this responsibility with an eye to the next election will not be capable of committing 100 percent to the job at hand -- restoration of the public trust. Rather, the person will have to balance the immediate and urgent efforts needed against the pressures and demands of a year-long political campaign, a daunting and time-consuming effort," the letter said.
Major General Brian Tarbet is currently acting as attorney general for the state, until Herbert picks a replacement. Neither Martindale nor Huefner chose to comment on whether Tarbet would be an appropriate non-political replacement to Swallow.