In public statements following their Tuesday arrests, former Utah attorneys general John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff’s lawyer remained confident that they would be found innocent on the various bribery and obstruction of justice charges they were hit with.
The Salt Lake Tribune described it as “the most sweeping political scandal in Utah history.” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) called it “a black eye for our state.” But though they now face a litany of allegations of criminal activity, including the acceptance of gifts and wielding the power of their office to aid associates, the two men asserted their innocence.
“I absolutely maintain my innocence, and this is just a process. Thank goodness we have a Constitution,” Swallow said in a statement. “We are presumed innocent until we’re proven guilty. And I look forward to my day in court to confront my accusers and to share my side of the story for really the first time.”
Swallow and Shurtleff were both released from a Salt Lake County jail after being booked Tuesday morning.
Max Wheeler, Shurtleff’s attorney, pointed to the fact that a federal prosecutor dropped the case against the two former officials before it was picked up by Salt Lake County’s district attorney Sim Gill.
“There’s no new smoking gun. There’s no new charge that wasn’t previously investigated,” Wheeler said, according to the Deseret News. “(Shurtleff) had sat down and talked to federal investigators a year ago about the very same matters. He thought he had given his explanations concerning the matters under investigation back then.”
Wheeler also accused investigators of leaking information about the probe to the press, calling it “unethical,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
“Mark is adamant that he didn’t commit any crimes,” Wheeler said, “and I believe him.”