The Attorney General’s office should not be about politics, at least according to Sean Reyes, Republican candidate for Utah’s Attorney General in the primary election on June 26.
“I like politics at the grassroots level, I’m just not fond of politicians, which I define as someone who looks at an office and asks, ‘How can the office serve me and my agenda?’” Reyes said. “By contrast I admire public servants who say, ‘How can I serve that office and the people it represents?’” He adds, “I am not a career politician.”
After graduating from Brigham Young University in 1994, Reyes earned his law degree with honors from U.C. Berkeley (1997). He practiced for fourteen years at Parsons, Behle, & Latimer, the largest law firm in Utah. Reyes represented clients on several large and high profile litigation cases. He argued or briefed cases before state and federal courts throughout the country, including the Utah Supreme Court and Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
For years, Sean has maintained an “AV” rating for skill and integrity, the highest ranking possible as determined by peer ratings. During his time at Parsons, Behle, & Latimer he was honored as the first-ever National Outstanding Young Lawyer by the American Bar Association. Reyes is proud of the recognition of his peers and touts it as the biggest strength he brings to the race for Attorney General.
“Running for Attorney General is not a ‘bucket list’ item for me … last year a number of lawyers in the Attorney General’s office contacted me and asked if I would consider running because they thought the office had become too political and would get worse if Swallow took over … most of the business and legal community does not recognize John (Swallow, Reyes’ GOP opponent in the race) as a lawyer,” Said Reyes.
Reyes said his litigation experience is the main point of separation between him and his opponent. “I’ve spent my entire career in the courtroom winning cases for Utah businesses and Utah clients … while my opponent and I agree on many issues, the difference is I’ve actually done it in the courtroom. We’re not running for Lobbyist General or Fund-Raiser General, we’re running for Attorney General, and there’s only one of us that’s dedicated his entire career to litigating high profile cases.”
Reyes said his vision of the responsibilities of the Attorney General’s office can be summarized under three main headings; 1) protecting Utah’s families, 2) protecting Utah’s business community, and 3) protecting Utah from the overreach of the federal government.
Protecting Utah families from violent crimes, gangs, drugs, and predators is crucial, Reyes said. But he also wants to fight for parents’ rights.
“Child abuse is one of the most heinous crimes we deal with, but we can’t allow the state to swing so far the other way that they’re removing children unnecessarily from the home, or substituting their so-called wisdom – like in the Parker Jensen case. So when I say protect families, I mean it comprehensively,” Reyes said.
Reyes believes this part of the Attorney General’s office is currently understaffed and he would correct that. He said his philosophy would be to “allocate resources depending on what the law is rather than on how it will generate a press release or what kind of publicity it gets.”
Reyes said he will protect Utah’s business community by prosecuting “bad actors who lie, cheat, and steal. They need to know that they are going to be prosecuted regardless of their political connections or what their name is.”
His third priority for the Attorney General’s office would be protecting Utah from federal government overreach. “Government is trying to regulate every aspect of our lives,” he said. He identifies Utah’s fight for public lands and the fight against “unconstitutional” provisions in President Obama’s healthcare bill as the biggest concerns in Utah’s relationship with the federal government.
Reyes has taken a leave of absence from his law firm to run for Attorney General and he has served on boards for “for-profit” and “non-profit” entities, including organizations ranging from Utah Fast Pass (for fallen law enforcement officers) to United Way Heroes. He also helped rebuild the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and co-founded its education foundation.
But he feels like many would like to see a change in the Utah Attorney General’s office.
“We want someone who is honest, hardworking, and will roll up their sleeves and not worry about political agendas … I want to see a lawyer back in the AG’s office,” Reyes said. “I want to turn it back into a law office for the people. I feel really passionately about that.
“I don’t care about political credit. I’d rather lose doing it the right way than win doing it the wrong way. I don’t want to be a career politician. The state needs a lawyer and I hope people evaluate it the same way they would if they were hiring a lawyer for themselves personally.”
Reyes is encouraging all Republicans to vote in the primary this year. Election Day is Tuesday, June 26. Early voting is now underway and will run through Friday, June 22 in the Cache County Administration building. The hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Voters need to have a photo ID and another form of identification, such as a utility bill with current address if they have moved from the place where they previously registered.