Utah politicians love to testify from their Twitter accounts—and none more than retiring Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
But while other pious pols use 140 characters or less to proclaim the depths of their Christian faith (Easter Sunday tweets from Sen. Orrin Hatch and West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder anyone?), Shurtleff does them one better: bearing witness and Twitter pics from the Holy Land to his 9,000 followers.
For the past week, Utah’s top lawyer has been chirping his travelog from Israel, rhapsodizing about Gallilee, sending his condolences to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when his father died and quoting New Testament Scripture.
A onetime student at BYU’s Jerusalem Center, he calls Israel “the one place outside of the United States I most feel at home. Although I am not Jewish, Israel is nonetheless the birthplace of my Savior. I can relate to my Jewish cousins, past and present, who long for the land of their inheritance.”
He went so far as to change his avatar into an Israeli flag. And Israel—and its lobbyists—love him back.
Shurtleff’s almost a native son; he seems to go every year, occasionally on lobbyists’ dime. In 2003, he toured the country with four other attorneys general. Two years later, he went back to get support for a Salt Lake chapter of the America-Israel Friendship League. He returned the next year. A leg infection in 2008 scuttled that year’s trip. But he returned on a trade mission with then-Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. in 2009 (mistakenly Tweeting his plans to run for Senate on the same trip).
This year, spokesman Paul Murphy says, the trip is “personal.” Shurtleff paid his own way: He’s co-hosting the tour.