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Polygamy Likely to Play Role in Attorney General Race

Polygamy Likely to Play Role in Attorney General Race

Posted - Sep. 23, 2004 at 4:59 p.m.



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Richard Piatt ReportingPolygamy is a major issue for the Attorney General and the men running to unseat him. Running the office includes many more duties, of course, but the public is constantly questioning the candidates about Utah's most commonly un-enforced crime.

Utah's current Attorney General says he's taking the strongest stand in 50 years on polygamy. Just this week, Mark Shurtleff took a hard line in Southern Utah where polygamist police officer Rodney Holm was convicted of bigamy this year.

Shurtleff says he agrees with Utah's Police Officer Standards and Training council that polygamous police officers should be fired when they're discovered. But with limited resources to enforce the law in general, Shurtleff agrees more can be done.

Mark Shurtleff, Utah Attorney General: "Four years ago when I was running for office I didn't say the word polygamy once. That's because I didn't realize the problem of child abuse, victimization of women, and of boys, these lost boys."

Shurtleff has taken a stand. But his Democratic opponent, Greg Skordas, thinks success fighting polygamy will happen when the crimes related to Utah's so-called dirty little secret are the focus.

Greg Skordas, (D) Candidate For Attorney General: "Talking to people in an investigation about their religion is going to fail. And we can't seem to realize that in this state. But talking to people as victims, as crime victims, succeeds."

Libertarian challenger Andrew McCollough has a much different take on that and on other issues the next Attorney General will face. While Shurtleff and Skordas tout their experience within the criminal justice system, McCullough hones in on fighting illegal search and seizure.

Andrew McCullough, (L) Attorney General Candidate: "I think that the Bill of Rights is the most important thing. But I think law enforcement treats it as a technicality. It's not a technicality, it's the most important right we have."

Polygamy isn't the only issue voters want the Attorney General to take on. Illegal drugs, sexual assault and rape, identity theft -- all are also on the rise in Utah.

Shurtleff wants to continue based on his past leadership. Skordas wants to take over based on his varied experience.

But the candidates differ on something else: Skordas' role in Nancy Workman's defense. Shurtleff sees it as free publicity; Skordas sees it as a liability to his democrat supporters. Only voters will decide what, if any, impact it has on the race for Utah Attorney General.

The candidates are engaging in a series of debates around the state between now and Election Day.

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