Advocate says AG Reyes 'tainted' by Kingston campaign contributions
(KUTV) A woman who has helped teens escape abuses in polygamous communities said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is "tainted" by $40,000 in campaign contributions from the Kingstons, and said by accepting the funds, he cannot be trusted to investigate crimes linked to polygamy.
"Sean Reyes has failed us," said Joni Holm, in an interview with 2News on Wednesday. "He should not have taken the money."
For more than a decade, teens in trouble have sought help from Holm, as they embarked on the daunting task of transitioning from closed societies -- including the FLDS enclaves of Hildale-Colorado City -- into the wider world. She said she has aided roughly 30 teens or young adults.
Last week, federal agents raided several offices in Salt Lake County connected with the Kingstons, a family known for polygamy, varied business interests, and several high-profile past run-ins with the law. Agents also were seen at the multi-million dollar Sandy home of Washakie Renewable Energy CEO Jacob Kingston.
2News reported on Tuesday night that Sean Reyes accepted tens of thousands of dollars to his campaign, money that came from Washakie -- and an individual with Kingston ties. In addition, Reyes was said to be the keynote speaker at a Christmas party for the energy company.
What should Sean Reyes' campaign do with the money?
"He should give it back, or give to the victims [of polygamy]" replied Holm. "He shouldn't keep it, because he cannot be trusted at this point."
"I feel badly she feels that way, but that's not true," said Reyes' campaign spokesman Alan Crooks. " No donation that Sean has ever taken has influenced his decisions."
Crooks said the campaign has now put the $40,000 in escrow, awaiting direction on what to do with it from federal investigators.
He added that just last weekend, Reyes was in Cedar City with private investigator Sam Brower, the author of "Prophet's Prey," which delved into the workings of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, convicted and serving time for his crimes.
Brower said Reyes has gone "beyond the call of duty" in raising awareness of trouble in polygamous groups and even arranged a showing of the movie, "Prophet's Prey" to members of the Attorney General's Office.
Reyes has made human trafficking a priority; now Holm is challenging him to investigate the Kingstons.
"I challenge him to go in and look, do the paper trail."
Follow Brian Mullahy on Twitter @BMullahy2News for breaking news, updates and more.