A few months ago, the issue was raised of the Utah Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff, “endorsing” Usana Health Sciences. Staff at his office told Fraud Discovery Institute associates that the Attorney General would never endorse a company, and we reported the following in our original report on Usana:

Fact: On February 16, 2007, our associate called Paul Murphy, the Press Secretary for Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. Mr. Murphy spoke to Helen (Shurtleff?s personal assistant) and she does not retain his schedule that far back (the Usana 2004 Annual Convention). Paul did confirm that Mr. Shurtleff has never and will never endorse any company or product. He will, however, show up to conventions or groups that have donated money to good causes and give thank you speeches.

In this particular case with Usana, Paul believes Mr. Shurtleff would have gone and delivered a speech on the founding fathers or a point of law ? this is his standard speech he delivers at every convention. He most likely would have ended with thanking the company for inviting him and telling them to keep up the good work. But he would have not endorsed them in any way.

Also, Mark would be extremely interested to see any promotional material Usana is using which states that Mr. Shurtleff does indeed endorse them. He would put out a cease and desist immediately. Moreover, on February 16, 2007, Paul Murphy called our associate back and confirmed that Mr. Shurtleff was indeed present at the Usana convention in September 2004. Paul spoke with Mr. Shurtleff personally on this. Mr. Shurtleff only gave a quick 5 to 10 minute opening remarks speech, and he did not endorse Usana in any way. His speech included welcoming people to the convention and a shortened version of his standard speech, which had nothing to do with Usana.

Sometimes after the issuance of our report on Usana, this video of AG Mark Shurtleff surfaced:

The Attorney General clearly does endorse Usana in this video. So what does that mean for Usana? Well, it means they got an endorsement, and that the information Mark Shurtleff’s office provided to Fraud Discovery Institute was inaccurate.

Mr. Shurtleff talks about consumer protection and the responsibility of his office. He says about Usana and other “direct sellers”:

“If you do it right, you do it legal, it is one of the greatest ways to help people realize the dreams of, of uh, and benefits and advantages of a free market system in the world today. And it is legal, and Attorneys General know this. And in fact Usana has a reputation around this country for being the ones that do it right. But I gotta tell you, you know that there are a lot of companies out there who don’t do it right. And, and we are constantly receiving emails and requests to go after and investigate many companies. What’s good to know is that with Usana as it stands today, when we get an email from somebody questioning it, all we have to do is write back and say they’ve been looked at and they’re a great company and they’re doing it right, and they’re doing it legal.”

It sounds to me like Mark Shurtleff is giving both a legal opinion and an endorsement of Usana. In contrast however, Utah’s Division of Consumer Protection says the following:

If a pyramid promoter or recruiter tells you that the program has been examined and approved by the Division of Consumer Protection or any other state agency, know that the claim is not true! The Division of Consumer Protection does NOT approve any marketing programs. If such representations are made to you, please notify the Division.

Did you read that carefully? It says the Consumer Protection division does not endorse a marketing program, and neither does “any other state agency.” Yet Mark Shurtleff gives a clear and enthusiastic endorsement of Usana?

And then there are Utah laws governing the conduct of public officials, specifically, Utah Code — Title 67 — Chapter 16 — Utah Public Officers’ and Employees’ Ethics Act. This states in part:

67-16-4. Improperly disclosing or using private, controlled, or protected information — Using position to secure privileges or exemptions — Accepting employment which would impair independence of judgment or ethical performance — Exceptions.
(1) Except as provided in Subsection (3), it is an offense for a public officer, public employee, or legislator, under circumstances not amounting to a violation of Section 63-56-1001 or 76-8-105, to:
(a) accept employment or engage in any business or professional activity that he might reasonably expect would require or induce him to improperly disclose controlled information that he has gained by reason of his official position;
(b) disclose or improperly use controlled, private, or protected information acquired by reason of his official position or in the course of official duties in order to further substantially the officer’s or employee’s personal economic interest or to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself or others;
(c) use or attempt to use his official position to:
(i) further substantially the officer’s or employee’s personal economic interest; or
(ii) secure special privileges or exemptions for himself or others;
(d) accept other employment that he might expect would impair his independence of judgment in the performance of his public duties; or
(e) accept other employment that he might expect would interfere with the ethical performance of his public duties.
(2) (a) Subsection (1) does not apply to the provision of education-related services to public school students by public education employees acting outside their regular employment.
(b) The conduct referred to in Subsection (2)(a) is subject to Section 53A-1-402.5.
(3) A county legislative body member who does not participate in the process of selecting a mental health or substance abuse service provider does not commit an offense under Subsection (1)(a) or (b) by:
(a) serving also as a member of the governing board of the provider of mental health or substance abuse services under contract with the county; or
(b) discharging, in good faith, the duties and responsibilities of each position.

The bold was added by me. I wonder if Mark Shurtleff’s endorsement of Usana might be considered a “special privilege.” It is no secret that Usana representatives have touted this endorsement to legitimize the business opportunity that they are selling. Unless Mr. Shurtleff gives an “endorsement” of all other companies he believes are operating legally in Utah, doesn’t Usana therefore receive a special privilege?

Note: Research for this post done by TerminatedRamp, of Yahoo message board fame.


  1. Matt 08/20/2007 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    By now we all know that Utah is the epicenter of network marketing in the US…what is the background for this? What specific state laws allow these companies to flourish in the state?

  2. THE BIZOP NEWS 08/22/2007 at 7:38 am - Reply

    What is New with Usana Health Sciences?…

    Tracy Coenen has an excellent article about whether Utah Attorney General improperly endorsing Usana Health Sciences? She makes the terrific point that the Attorney General,……

  3. David Thornton 08/26/2007 at 5:21 am - Reply

    This is a classic example of what we have been stating for years; that behind the scenes in these pyramid frauds and Ponzi schemes are the very hypocrites who are supposed to be enforcing legislation in respect to fraud. Attorneys General, former Attorneys General, judges and their wives, lawyers, accountants, in my province of Ontario Canada, lawyers formerly employed by the Competition Bureau, Justice’s of the Peace, the RCMP, OPP, Regional Police and their families, and in one recently exposed scheme the former Ottawa chief of Police employed by the scam artist in this fraudulent corporation and even the former premier of the Province Ontario, Mike Harris connected with the same fraud.

    These frauds finish by scamming the poor and unsophisticated at the bottom of the feeding chain. These frauds are never started with the poor at the top with the rich and connected the last to be scammed. Now, this Attorney General of Utah is either corrupt, incompetent or incredibly stupid. We can, in no time, explain a pyramid fraud to the average teenager and here we have the Attorney General of Utah apparently displaying less intelligence than a 10 year old when it comes to simple arithmetic, and basic accounting rules as he uses his tremendous influence to assist Usana to fraudulently scam the world. And Mr. Attorney general of Utah, there is no “legal way” to operate a pyramid fraud as you attempted to brainwash the Usana victims into believing. Fraud is fraud no matter how lavishly you “dress it up” with millions in props and attempt to hide it with “smoke and mirrors.” “The emperor simply has no clothes” and this Ayyorney General stands butt naked before the world. Barry Minkow knew what he was doing when he ended up in jail and he knows what he’s talking about now that he’s on the right side of the law. The Attorney General of Utah, in my opinion, should be where Minkow was a few years ago.

    And the worst is that those in authority listed above have the power to arrest on false charges, commit perjury and convict on perjured evidence, one who would expose them. That’s what the Ontario Provincial Police, a corrupt justice of the peace and the bizarre judge did after the OPP, and their wives, the wife of the chief of police, several lawyers, politicians and upper echelon in my small community involved my wife in one of their pyramid frauds when I set about to recover their money before I had any idea the extent of these frauds and those who were involved in them. That’s why a group of seniors created our organization.


    http://www.crimebusternow.com 905-963-3389 24/7 We return calls toll free in North America and countries world-wide.

  4. David Thornton 08/26/2007 at 5:32 am - Reply

    And never missing a trick the fraudsters seize on anything. Our website above is misspelled. Without the “s” it takes you to their scams it should be http://www.crimebustersnow.com

  5. Sara 03/23/2010 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    I am constantly surprised at some comments. Why not allow good things to happen? There are amazing people right here in front of us doing amazing things each and every day. Not every good thing that alters from the typical is ‘illegal’ …. and why fight something that is only bringing good? There are ethical ways of blessing people’s lives that may be different from the ‘traditional’ standpoint our grandparents knew. Life evolves. Why not let our understanding and appreciation for these good things to evolve also?
    I do not expect every individual to embrace the same beliefs and values that I have… but to simply accept good things.

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