Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has his deficiencies as an attorney general. Most notably, he's weak on illegal immigration, opposing SB81. In early July, Shurtleff also expressed opposition to passing a law in Utah similar to Arizona SB1070. He further addresses this issue on his personal blog.
But as a father, he may be second to none. He personifies the Biblical allegory of the shepherd given by Jesus Christ, in which the proverbial shepherd temporarily sets aside concern for the 99 sheep in order to look for the one lost sheep. In 2009, it was quite clear that Shurtleff was literally salivating at the thought of running against Senator Bob Bennett. He had even planned to commute between Washington D.C. and Utah if elected. By November 2009, he had raised $210,000 towards his campaign. Then on November 4th, 2009, Shurtleff detonated the bombshell - he was abandoning his campaign in order to look after his adopted daughter Danielle, who had struggled with substance abuse issues and had experienced a relapse.
Danielle had twice attempted suicide, but had received help, returned to school and her grades were good. Unfortunately, she started to spiral out of control, necessitating her placement in a residential treatment facility. But Shurtleff anticipated that Danielle might need even more time and support from her family. Complicating the issue was the fact that, after June 2010, when she turned 18, she could no longer be kept at the facility even if she needed further treatment.
The wisdom of Mark Shurtleff's decision to abandon his campaign has now become even more apparent. On July 29th, the Salt Lake Tribune revealed that Shurtleff recently found Danielle huddled behind a trash bin in Sandy. At a at a Westminster College gathering organized by CRC Health Group, a treatment organization, Shurtleff explained that Danielle's most recent problems began in late June, when she turned 18 and left a treatment center in southern Utah. She returned to Salt Lake, and after agreeing to strict household rules, which included staying away from people who had previously gotten her in trouble with drugs, she moved back into the family home in the second week of July. But a mere four days later, she violated that rule. When the family objected, Danielle decided to leave home and live on the streets instead.
About a week ago, Sandy police called saying they had found her in a ditch off of State Street. She was sober and doing nothing wrong, so they were unable to detain her. Shurtleff said he spent the next few nights driving around Sandy, and ultimately found her when he decided to check a Taco Bell’s parking lot. She was still sober, which he said surprised him. Danielle finally acknowledged that she was tired of being homeless and wanted to come home. Instead, Shurtleff hooked her up with another former substance abuser who had overcome his addiction; he had a room available in a Midvale house.
It's obvious from this account that Mark Shurtleff's decision to abandon his campaign for the sake of his daughter was inspired. He must have sensed that he could not both run a full-time campaign for elective office (a campaign which subsequent events indicate he would have won) and meet the time-consuming needs of his daughter simultaneously. So he chose to sacrifice his higher ambitions for the sake of his daughter...and possibly his wife as well, because had he continued with his campaign, his wife's burdens would undoubtedly have become greater.
Mark Shurtleff may be a mediocre Attorney General, but he exemplifies what fatherhood is all about. Perhaps we should separate Mark Shurtleff the father from Mark Shurtleff the Attorney General. The comments I saw posted to Glen Warchol's post on this issue were vindictive, mean-spirited, and downright despicable. Criticizing a man's politics is fair discourse; attacking a man's family is inexcusable.