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Former GOP candidate for Utah attorney general charged with bribery

Jul 10, 2024, 11:54 AM | Updated: 7:09 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A former Republican candidate for Utah attorney general has been charged with bribery for allegedly offering one of his opponents a job if he dropped out of the race.

Frank Mylar, 62, was charged Wednesday with one felony count of bribery in elections, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Mylar was one of several Republicans who sought to replace Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who is not running for re-election. Mylar advanced out of the GOP convention but lost to Derek Brown in last month’s primary.

According to charging documents, prior to the state Republican convention in April, Mylar reached out to fellow candidate Trent Christensen with an offer.

“Hey Trent. In my last day of trial and by Gods [sic] grace my campaign has picked up more steam,” Mylar wrote, according to prosecutors. “I won in Weber and was only there 10 minutes. Overwhelmingly won Davis. If you could endorse me before the convention I would definitely include you in my office. Think about it for a few days. Thx. Good luck today.”

Prosecutors said Christensen did not respond and later received several messages from Mylar apologizing for the text and noting that it was “not an offer,” while saying he believed Christensen had withdrawn from the race.

Christensen, who was eliminated from the race at the convention, later contacted Murray police in May to report the text messages, prosecutors said.

In an interview Wednesday with KSL TV, Christensen said he waited a few weeks to report the message because it came right in the thick of the campaign, but he had an “ethical duty” to do so.

“Just on its face, I was shocked. It’s a quid pro quo,” Christensen said. “In the heat of these things, people can do silly things, things that they wouldn’t otherwise do. But it was shocking to me.”

Mylar’s attorney, Nathan Crane, told KSL TV his client denies the allegations and plans to plead not guilty.

“Frank did not bribe or attempt to bribe anybody. Frank was simply seeking support for his campaign,” Crane said. “Shortly after sending the text message, Frank followed up with the recipient to ensure his original text was not misunderstood. Frank looks forward to defending himself in court.”

An initial appearance for Mylar has not been set yet.

“We appreciate Mr. Christensen coming forward with the information about this alleged crime in a timely manner to law enforcement,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in a statement. “We also appreciate the Murray Police Department for conducting a thorough investigation.”

Gill prosecuted a similar case in 2008. Former Republican candidate for state treasurer, Mark Walker, pleaded guilty after being charged with offering his opponent a job to drop out.

“You don’t see this very often,” Gill said.

In this case, Christensen said he believes this was bribery, but he will let the legal process play out.

“At the end of the day, it’s not for me to say,” he said. “It’s for the system to say.”

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Former GOP candidate for Utah attorney general charged with bribery