Friday, May 24, 2013

Shurtleff May Have Intervened in Envision Ogden Investigation

Email documents mysterious phone call to investigator.

By Dan Schroeder

Now that we have pretty clear proof that former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff didn't always maintain the highest level of ethical integrity in carrying out his official duties, I thought it might be a good time to dredge up another little incident from the past.

It's just a tidbit, really. A hint. Not enough even to justify a newspaper article, much less hold up in a court of law. But intriguing, nonetheless.

The date was May 20, 2009. At the request of then-representative Neil Hansen, the Attorney General's office had agreed the previous month to look into possible criminal activity by Envision Ogden, a political organization that had helped Mayor Godfrey and two city council candidates (Blain Johnson and Royal Eccles) in the 2007 election, but that had concealed its political purpose from contributors. Scott Reed, head of the AG Criminal Justice Division, would be the main attorney on the case.

Reed didn't initially handle the investigation himself. He passed the job along to the State Bureau of Investigation, which assigned the case to a senior investigator named Jim Vaughn. He in turn delegated most of the work to Special Agent Scott Hansen (no relation to Neil), who interviewed several of Envision Ogden's corporate contributors between May 12 and May 26.

But on the evening of May 20, after most of these interviews had taken place, Hansen received a phone call from someone named Mark that prompted him to email Reed's boss, Deputy AG Kirk Torgensen, the next morning:
From: Scott Hansen
Subject: Envision Ogden
Date: May 21, 2009 7:15:27 AM MDT
To: Kirk Torgensen

I received a phone call from Mark last night inquiring about Envision Ogden. He had received an email or a phone call from someone regarding it. He said he was going to send the information to you. He asked that I get with you about this case.

I told him we had received it from Scott Reed. Maybe you, Scott and myself can get together and strategize on this.

I am open anytime today and next Tuesday looks good too. Just let me know.
So there you have it. Although no last name is mentioned, we can safely conclude that "Mark" refers to Torgensen's immediate boss, Attorney General Shurtleff. But we'll probably never know what Shurtleff said to Hansen during that evening phone call, or which of Envision Ogden's members or contributors contacted Shurtleff, or whether the proposed follow-up meeting between Hansen, Torgensen, and Reed ever took place.

Hansen wound up his interviews five days later, without ever attempting to interview Godfrey, Johnson, or Eccles. Reed decided to close the investigation at the end of June. He re-opened the investigation in September (at the request of Rep. Hansen and myself), but very little further investigating took place before the case was permanently closed in March 2011. By then Vaughn had retired from the SBI and Scott Hansen had also left the agency.


Bob Becker said...

Why someone of a suspicious turn of mind ( not me, of course) might be tempted to conclude from all this that
A G. Shurtleff had ( in a phrase much used in the borough politics of the Brooklyn of my yout) "put the fux in "

blackrulon said...

I find it hard to believe that former Utah Attorney General would halt a valid investigation. Well not that hard to believe but unlike the investigations being monitored for violations of law it appears that no money changed hands. Hindering and stopping investigations in the other cases did require favors for money. Utah Attorney General politics is not cheap.

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