Thursday, April 24, 2014

Brent Ward withdraws from race to fill Utah A.G. vacancy

By Dennis Romboy, Deseret News

Published: Wed, Dec. 11 10:16 p.m. MST

 The Utah State Capitol is shown Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Salt Lake City. Federal prosecutor Brent Ward dropped out the race for attorney general Wednesday amid questions about whether he meets residency requirements for the office.

The Utah State Capitol is shown Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Salt Lake City. Federal prosecutor Brent Ward dropped out the race for attorney general Wednesday amid questions about whether he meets residency requirements for the office.

(Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — Federal prosecutor Brent Ward dropped out the race for attorney general Wednesday amid questions about whether he meets residency requirements for the office.

Ward voted in Virginia while living there on assignment with the U.S. Department of Justice, which under Utah law could make him ineligible to serve as attorney general.

The Utah Constitution requires the attorney general be at least 25 years old, admitted to practice law in Utah and in good standing. The officeholder must be a resident of the state for five years leading up to the election.

Utahns also must keep a principal residence that they intend to return to and stay indefinitely, according to state law. Residents lose their status if they vote in other states or plan to live in another state indefinitely.

Ward said in a news release that the question comes down to intent, and that he never intended to give up residency in Utah when he voted in Virginia. But he said if he were among the candidates recommended to the governor, his eligibility would be surrounded by uncertainty that only a court could settle.

Even though he believes a court would find him eligible, Ward said litigation should not delay naming a new attorney general.

The state elections office has looked at whether the candidates who filed to replace former Republican Attorney General John Swallow meet the state's eligibility requirements. It expects to release a report Thursday.

— Dennis Romboy

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