The US Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed Friday they have opened an investigation into possible unethical and illegal conduct by Utah Attorney General John Swallow. In a statement, US Attorney spokesperson Melodie Rydalch said the announcement comes after “extraordinary public interest” in the case. After stating the office will adhere to the facts and the law, there was no further comment.
The Utah Democratic Party called for an independent investigation and is pleased they are moving ahead with the probe. Party chair Jim Dabakis, who will become a Utah State Senator next week, asked US Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate.
Swallow has also requested that the US Attorney look into the allegations, admitting he would do things differently today but denied doing anything illegal. Utah Republican Party chair Thomas Wright (Swallow is a Republican) said Swallow had made mistakes, and called for tougher ethics legislation “to avoid this kind of situation in the future.” The Utah Legislature will convene on Monday, January 28.
Alliance for a Better Utah has also filed a complaint with the Utah Bar Association, asking them to review any violation of ethical standards by Attorney General Swallow. The group maintains that the facts “raise questions regarding Swallow’s judgment and possible ethical transgressions.”
Facing fraud charges after a plea deal fell apart earlier this month, St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson told the media Swallow had assisted him in 2010 by helping him put together a deal to get federal investigators with the Federal Trade Commission off his back. According to Johnson, that deal included a bribe aimed at US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid-D, Nevada.
Swallow, who was Utah’s chief deputy attorney general at the time, maintains he put Johnson in touch with Richard Rawle, a former employer and owner of Check City payday loans to see if he could help Johnson. Swallow was doing unrelated consulting work for Rawle at the time for Rawle’s interests in Nevada. Rawle passed away last December.
Swallow was elected last November and sworn-in January 7, 2013.
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Source: Associated Press, Utah Democratic Party, Salt Lake Tribune, Alliance for a Better Utah, Utah Republican Party