Mark Shurtleff

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Mark Shurtleff
Mark Shurtleff.jpg
19th Attorney General of Utah
In office
January 2001 – January 2013
Preceded by Jan Graham
Succeeded by John Swallow
Personal details
Born (1957-08-09) August 9, 1957 (age 58)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) M'Liss Shurtleff
Children 5
Profession Lawyer
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
Website Shurtleff for Senate in 2010

Mark Shurtleff (born August 9, 1957) is founder and Senior Partner of the Shurtleff Law Firm and founder and Principal of a legal and regulatory compliance consulting practice, the Shurtleff Group. He was a partner in the Washington DC office of the national law firm Troutman Sanders.[1] He started this position January 2013 and resigned in June 2013 to spend more time in Utah and start his own practice.

Shurtleff is the author of the critically acclaimed 500-page historical novel, Am I Not a Man, The Dred Scott Story.[2][3]

He served in elective office as a Salt Lake County Commissioner and twelve years as Attorney General of the state of Utah.

Education and early career[edit]

Shurtleff attended Brighton High School (Cottonwood Heights, Utah), Brigham Young University, University of Utah College of Law, and University of San Diego School of Law. Shurtleff served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Peru.[4]

He began his legal career by serving four years in the United States Navy Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG), then was a lawyer in Southern California.[5]

Public service[edit]

Shurtleff was a Deputy County Attorney and a Commissioner of Salt Lake County. He then became an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Utah.

Shurtleff was elected Attorney General in November 2000, and was re-elected in November 2004 and November 2008. He is the first Attorney General in Utah to win re-election for a third term.[6]

As Attorney General, Shurtleff sided with school voucher proponents when he issued an official legal opinion stating that under a second law (HB174), private school vouchers would still be funded even if voters rejected the primary voucher bill (HB 148) in a November referendum.[7] On June 8, 2007, it took the Utah Supreme Court only hours to rule unanimously that the second law (HB 174) would also be nullified if voters reject the primary voucher bill.[8]

On May 23, 2007, Shurtleff testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee as a Republican in support of the Constitutionality of granting full representation in Congress for residents of Washington DC. He spoke of co-authoring with Democrat AG Linda Singer a bipartisan state attorney general letter to the United States Congress in support of District of Columbia voting rights[9]

Initiatives to combat drug abuse[edit]

Throughout his service as Utah Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff, made it a priority to combat illicit drug abuse. In 2009 he co-founded the Utah Pharmaceutical Drug Crime Project, an unprecedented multi-agency, multi-disciplinary task force to combat the serious problem of prescription drug abuse. Partners included the DEA, FBI, Utah Departments of Public Safety and Human Services, and the Salt Lake City Police Department.[10] In July 2010, joined by former Drug Czar, Retired General Barry McCaffrey, Shurtleff spoke passionately "as a father" at a conference at [Westminster College] in SLC addressing the problem of "youth in crisis."[11]

Comprehensive immigration reform[edit]

In September 2012, a treatise written by Attorney General Shurtleff was published in the journal "Big Ideas for Children" by First Focus(a children's advocacy organization, launched by America's Promise.) Shurtleff makes the case for a sensible and just approach to immigration reform that recognizes the need to support children of immigrants. Entitled “A Dream of Youthful Hopes”, Securing the American Dream for the Children of Immigrants, the paper highlights the success of the Utah Compact as well as the importance of recent federal administrative reforms and culturally competent youth development programs.

U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

On May 12, 2009, Shurtleff inadvertently disclosed, via a Twitter message, that he planned to enter the 2010 Republican primary.[12] On November 4, 2009 Shurtleff ended his campaign for U.S. Senate in order to spend more time with his daughter, who was experiencing severe mental health problems.[13]

Charitable and philanthropic endeavors[edit]

Throughout his career in public service, Shurtleff spent much of his free time supporting, serving and fund-raising for numerous charities and service organizations. For example, in addition to his decades of service to the Boy Scouts of America, since 2006 he has been an Ambassador and Board Member of the national youth suicide prevention organization, the Jason Foundation.[14]

In 2007, Shurtleff co-founded with Sandra Lucas the Utah Meth Cops Project and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide no-cost detoxification treatment to police officers who were suffering debilitating respiratory and other illness as a direct result from busting clandestine meth labs without protective gear before it was know how toxic the chemicals were. The project, in collaboration with the American Detoxification Foundation, successfully treated over a hundred cops, firefighters and soldiers.[15][16] Shurtleff then lent his efforts outside of Utah meeting with Department of Defense officials in DC to promote treatment of soldiers and veterans who are suffering from exposure to Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome and Burn pit; and keynoting a fundraiser in Las Vegas hosted by John Travolta to raise money to build and operate a treatment facility there for first responders.[17]

In recognition of his long standing support, fund-raising and investment of "sweat equity," Shurtleff was honored by the Boys and Girls Clubs with their 2012 Living Legacy Award.[18]

Freedom of the Press[edit]

During Shurtleff's second term as Utah Attorney General, he demonstrated his strong belief in the First Amendment and in Freedom of the Press in particular. He made it a priority to lead the effort for the protection of confidential sources by pushing for federal and state reporter "shield" or "privilege" laws. Shurtleff led the effort to file a friend of the court brief with the United States Supreme Court in the case of Miller v. California. He was joined by attorneys general from 33 states urging the nations high court to recognize a news reporter's privilege. "A free society needs a free press," commented Shurtleff. "We are asking the supreme court to make sure reporters are not prosecuted under federal law for doing something they are encouraged to do under state law."[19] Shurtleff wasn't done. With representatives of the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalist and other First Amendment activists, he led a two and a half year effort to pass a workable and reasonable rule that would allow reporters to protect confidential informants. Rallying legislators and reluctant prosecutors, the group was able to convince the Utah Supreme Court in 2008, to adopt what some have called the strongest reporter's privilege law in the country.[20] Shurtleff spoke to the importance of a free flow of information in a representative democracy.

“Today is a banner day for the First Amendment in Utah. A strong new evidentiary rule protecting the confidentiality of a reporter’s sources will ensure the free flow of information which is so essential to open government and a democratic society. A half-century before the Bill of Rights, John Peter Zenger so firmly believed in the importance of a free press that he was willing to be jailed rather than reveal his sources. He recognized that if concerned citizens could not reveal certain actions of their government, without fear of retribution, then no one would come forward and the free flow of information would be lost... This new “reporter’s privilege” reporters and potential sources the confidence that their communications will be protected---which will encourage those with important information of wrong-doing to bring it to light. Utah’s rule also recognizes and protects law enforcement’s need, upon a proper showing, to obtain evidence of criminal conduct so as to best protect the public.


Shurtleff followed up the success of passing a Utah shield law with another demonstration of his commitment to "let some sunshine in on government records and meetings" by creating and publishing “The Open Book,” a 27-page pocket-sized handbook to help answer questions on open records and open meetings. “The Open Book is my commitment to the idea that open government is better government,” Shurtleff wrote in the preface. “It is my hope that The Open Book will help everyone make sure the public’s business is conducted in public." For his commitment and service to a free press, Attorney General Shurtleff was given the "Sunshine Award" by the Utah Headliner Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.[22]

U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

On May 12, 2009, Shurtleff inadvertently disclosed, via a Twitter message, that he planned to enter the 2010 Republican primary.[12] On November 4, 2009 Shurtleff ended his campaign for U.S. Senate in order to spend more time with his daughter, who was experiencing severe mental health problems.[13]


Shurtleff has been accused of corruption and bribery, allowing political donations or personal relationships to affect regulatory or prosecutorial decisions.[23][24][25][26] These allegations were investigated by the FBI and the United States Department of Justice. After the DOJ declined to prosecute, the FBI continued its investigation in cooperation with local authorities.[27]

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill filed 10 felony charges against Shurtleff on July 15, 2014.[28] As of August 2014, the state's case is still pending trial.

Recent activities[edit]

On April 22, 2013, Shurtleff testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee in support of comprehensive immigration reform during the Hearing on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S.744[29]

In February, 2013, Mark Shurtleff spoke on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on "The Role of State Attorneys General in Enforcing Federal Law" to Congressional staffers at the Civil Justice Caucus Academy run by George Mason University School of Law[30]

Shurtleff was a speaker at B'nai Shalom's semiannual conference in April 2010.[31]

In September 2010, Shurtleff testified before the House Judiciary Committee in support of the Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act,[32] an act that seeks to reverse the effects of Granholm v. Heald, a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court case that ruled unconstitutional state laws that permitted in-state wineries to ship wine directly to consumers, but prohibited out-of-state wineries from doing the same. Shurtleff's remarks[32] were drafted by the general counsel of the National Beer Wholesalers Association.[33][34]

Election history[edit]

Utah Attorney General Election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Mark Shurtleff 435,988 57
Democratic Reed Richards 299,683 40
Utah Attorney General Election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Mark Shurtleff 614,742 68.4 +11.4
Democratic Gregory Skordas 255,779 28.4
Utah Attorney General Election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Mark Shurtleff 650,147 69.3 +0.9
Democratic Jean Welch 249,492 26.6

Personal life[edit]

Shurtleff is married with five children and seven grandchildren. He is an Eagle Scout and is fluent in Spanish.[5] He served 22 years as a scoutmaster and received the Silver Beaver Award; and was honored by Mexico with the highest award that country gives to non-Mexicans, The Order of the Aztec Eagle.[35]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Arizona Republic Article
  5. ^ a b Lisa Riley Roche (October 18, 2004). "Shurtleff enjoys public service". Deseret Morning News. 
  6. ^ Ben Winslow (March 20, 2008). "Shurtleff seeks re-election". Deseret Morning News. 
  7. ^ Lisa Riley Roche & Erin Stewart (March 28, 2007). "2 voucher laws at risk? Shurtleff says only one affected by referendum". Deseret Morning News. 
  8. ^ Tiffany Erickson & Bob Bernick Jr. "Justices Rule Voucher Amendment cannot stand on its own". Deseret Morning News. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b Aaron Blake (May 13, 2009). "Whoops: Utah official accidentally tweets Senate bid". The Hill. 
  13. ^ a b "Shurtleff pulls out of Senate race against Bennett". The Daily Herald. 2009. Retrieved November 4, 2009. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Eric Peterson (2008-09-24). "Drug Deal". Salt Lake City Weekly. 
  24. ^ Lee Davidson (2008-05-27). "Marc Sessions Jenson fraud trial postponed pending plea deal". Deseret News. 
  25. ^ Lee Davidson and Bob Bernick Jr. (2008-05-24). "Allegations swirling in fraud case". Deseret News. 
  26. ^ Robert Gehrke (2013-05-23). "Secret recording Mark Shurtleff offers 2 million to silence critic". Salt Lake Tribune. 
  27. ^ Romboy, Dennis (September 12, 2013). "No federal charges coming against John Swallow, Mark Shurtleff". Deseret News. Retrieved September 12, 2013. 
  28. ^ Crofts, Natalie (July 15, 2014). "Swallow, Shurtleff taken into custody". KSL. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  29. ^ [2]
  30. ^
  31. ^ Mormon Times April 2, 2010
  32. ^ a b Hearing on: H.R. 5034, the "Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness (CARE) Act of 2010" from the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, which includes a transcript of Shurtleff's prepared remarks
  33. ^ Shurtleff: Beer group drafted my testimony, a September 30, 2010 article from The Salt Lake Tribune
  34. ^ Utah AG Testimony: Testament to Lobbying Ties?, a September 30, 2010 Washington Wire blog post from The Wall Street Journal
  35. ^

External links[edit]

Media related to Mark Shurtleff at Wikimedia Commons