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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Former Utah Chief Deputy Attorney General Kirk Torgensen has been fired, eight months after being placed on administrative leave.
He had been on paid leave since April 9, pending the outcome of an investigation into his role, if any, in activities that led to criminal charges against former Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff.
Attorney general's office spokeswoman Missy Larsen confirmed Torgensen was fired Friday, but declined comment on the reason for the action.
Torgensen was demoted from his No. 2 position in the office a year ago when Sean Reyes became attorney general.
Brett Tolman, Torgensen's attorney, criticized the decision to fire his client.
"We are disappointed ... and are saddened that Mr. Torgensen has been terminated without process, without cause, in our opinion, and right now we're just reviewing what options we have," he told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Tolman said Torgensen was planning to retire in August after a long career with the state and he requested that Torgensen be assigned another position until then.
"I know the attorney general wants to be seen as cleaning house, but there's a way to do that without necessarily throwing someone under the bus that shouldn't be thrown. And Kirk Torgensen is that person," Tolmon told the Deseret News.
Tolmon maintains Torgensen qualifies for whistleblower protection because he went to law enforcement with concerns about Shurtleff's interactions with Tim Lawson, who has been charged with six felonies accusing him of trading on his friendship with Shurtleff.
"He qualifies as a whistleblower; I've always felt that way," he told The Tribune. "He's the only one who stood up or tried to stand up to Shurtleff when he was doing some things."
Shurtleff and his successor Swallow were charged in July with bribery and other counts. Both men are accused of accepting gifts and money from several businessmen. Shurtleff and Swallow deny any wrongdoing.
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