Reyes and Leavitt trade verbal blows in fiery AG debate

20200602 AG debate

Wow. If you want to see how a real political debate can go, back and forth, blow to blow, you need to watch Tuesday’s televised debate between Republican attorney general candidates Sean Reyes and David Leavitt.

It was nothing short of astounding.

And the hour-long spectacle can be seen or heard at the Utah Debate Commission’s website, here.

In fact, you may have to listen to parts of the squabble several times to get it all, the verbal punches were coming so fast and furious.

The moderator, veteran debate moderator David Magleby from Brigham Young University’s political science department, was a bit astonished himself, saying at one point, “there’s so much fireworks here, it’s hard to keep track” of who was talking and about what.

Any summary here won’t do the event justice — given that, here are just a few of the charges flying back and forth, and who made them:

Utah County Attorney Leavitt talking about Attorney General Sean Reyes’ seven years in office — stopping just short of calling him a crook.

Leavitt: Reyes has continued the sad history of the Utah AG’s office “putting a “For Sale” sign” on the office door, in the manner in which Reyes has fundraised from people and companies who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

“Follow the money” donated to Reyes from the Republican Attorneys General Association, which gets its money from “black sites” and gives to GOP partisan state AGs.

Reyes has overseen a “no-bid” contract with Banjo, a firm that is attempting to use facial recognition technology to spy on Utahns, with no oversight, and violating their civil rights. “It is irresponsible” of Reyes to do so and a waste of 21 million taxpayer dollars, said Leavitt.

While human trafficking is terrible, there’s not much of it in Utah and Reyes is wasting time and money on a problem more found in South America.

All prosecutors, including Reyes, settle 99 percent of their cases with plea bargains, sending nonviolent offenders to prison when only around 10 percent of crimes are violent and need perpetrators to be locked up.

Criminal justice reform is mandatory, “and Reyes has done nothing about it” in his years in office.

Reyes has taken money from “criminal families” — the Kingston polygamist group — and promised to give it back or to charity, but done nothing about it and still has the $50,0000.

Reyes about Leavitt: He says anything, twists anything to make it sound sinister when Reyes has been rated one of the best AGs in the nation and is fighting crime as the office has never before.

“We are winning (cases) the right way,” said Reyes, not playing favorites with anyone.

Reyes has been honored by the University of Utah “for the office’s high ethics.”

Leavitt is doing nothing but throwing “campaign rhetoric” at Reyes, hoping something will stick. But nothing will.

Yes, Reyes is a true conservative but works with Democrats in all walks of justice.

Leavitt is just “showing his ignorance” in charging all kinds of crazy things that Reyes has not, and never would, do.

Leavitt wants to be the “emperor” of all county attorneys in the state if he were AG. Reyes gets calls “all day long” about how terrible Leavitt is doing as the Utah County Attorney, from local government officials and local law enforcement.

Interesting that Leavitt criticizes Reyes for fundraising, said the AG, when Leavitt spent half a million dollars “before the convention” when he ran for Congress years ago and today gets most of his campaign money “from (his) multi-millionaire family.” Former Gov. Mike Leavitt and his brothers, David being one, have made a lot of money in the family business, started by their father, running a string of insurance agencies.

Leavitt is nuts to advocate taking almost all cases to trial, that plea bargaining used correctly is time and money efficient. The AG and local county attorneys would have to hire “100 times more attorneys” to try all criminal and civil cases in court.

Leavitt said Reyes’ and other prosecutors don’t need to plea bargain so many cases if they would just work at judicial system reform — find other ways for non-violent criminals to pay their debt to society, stop locking up so many people.

Reyes says Leavitt cares “nothing” about much of the work the AG’s office does — ticking off dozens of projects he, Reyes, has either started in the office or expanded during his seven years in office. “All he (Leavitt) talks about is judicial reform,” which is already being done by Reyes and the Utah Legislature.

Reyes has been mentioned as interested in several jobs in the Trump administration. Asked if both men would stay in office over the next four years, and not leave, both promised they would.

Reyes said, “I’ve turned down” offers in the federal government, not mentioning any specifics. “I want to finish the job I’ve started — I need four more years.”

Said Reyes: “I’ve returned honest and integrity to the highest law enforcement officer in the state.”

If you are satisfied with the money-taking, lack of integrity and honesty in the attorney general’s office, then you know what you’ve gotten from Reyes — vote for him said Leavitt — and nothing will change.