Utah Attorney General resigns, proclaims innocence amid criminal investigations
By Greg Janetka
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah: Beset by criminal allegations since he took office in January, Utah Attorney General John Swallow (R) announced his resignation yesterday, effective December 3. Gov. Gary Herbert (R) will appoint a new attorney general from a list of three choices given to him by the Republican State Central Committee. They are scheduled to meet December 14. The office's general counsel, Brian Tarbet, will serve in the interim.
Swallow has continually proclaimed his innocence on all charges. The trouble for the state's top lawman began on January 11 of this year when businessman Jeremy Johnson accused Swallow of being involved in a plan to bribe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a federal investigation into Johnson's Internet marketing company disappear. However, that was just the beginning.
On January 23, left-leaning group Alliance for a Better Utah filed an unprofessional conduct complaint with the Utah State Bar and a petition with the lieutenant governor's office on March 7 alleging election law violations. That was followed by another ethics complaint filed with the state bar on May 3, this time by a former state consumer protection director. Six days later jailed businessman Marc Jenson accused Swallow, along with predecessor Mark Shurtleff, of seeking bribes.
With all of the allegations circulating around him, numerous officials, including Gov. Herbert, asked Swallow to resign, but the attorney general staunchly refused. Numerous investigations were opened, including ones by the U.S. Attorney's Office (later taken over by the U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section) and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings. On July 2 the Utah House of Representatives discussed the possibility of impeachment and created a committee to investigate Swallow.
While Swallow has not been officially charged with any wrongdoing, the lieutenant governor's office has completed and is expected to soon release the results of their investigation. It has been reported that sources familiar with the investigation say it will accuse Swallow of multiple violations of election laws. Swallow said he has not seen the report and that it did not affect his decision. The other probes are still in progress and it is unclear how, if at all, they will be affected by the attorney general's resignation.
- Salt Lake Tribune, "Swallow resigns, proclaiming innocence, says toll on family and office too great," November 21, 2013
- Salt Lake Tribune, "GOP plans to pick Swallow successor; Dems say not so fast," November 21, 2013
- Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah A.G.’s office eager to get back to normal," November 21, 2013
- SFGate, "Lawyer: No charges for Utah AG in bribery probe," September 12, 2013
- Deseret News, "2013 John Swallow timeline," November 21, 2013
- KSL, "Attorney General John Swallow resigns," November 21, 2013