Difference between revisions of "John Swallow"

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|Assumed office      =2013
|Assumed office      =2013
|Political party      = Republican
|Political party      = Republican
|Predecessor=[[Mark Shurtleff]] (R)
|First elected        =[[Utah attorney general election, 2012|November 6, 2012]]
|First elected        =[[Utah attorney general election, 2012|November 6, 2012]]
|Last election        =[[Utah attorney general election, 2012|November 6, 2012]]
|Last election        =[[Utah attorney general election, 2012|November 6, 2012]]

Revision as of 18:35, 13 March 2013

John Swallow
John Swallow.jpg
Attorney General of Utah
In office
January 7, 2013-present
Term ends
Years in position 2
PredecessorMark Shurtleff (R)
Base salary$98,509
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First electedNovember 6, 2012
Next generalNovember 8, 2016
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Utah Chief Deputy Attorney General
Bachelor'sBrigham Young University (1987)
J.D.Brigham Young University Law School (1990)
Date of birthNovember 10, 1962
ReligionMormon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
John Swallow campaign logo
John Swallow (b. November 10, 1962) is the current Republican Attorney General of Utah. He was first elected on November 6, 2012 and took office on January 7, 2012. He succeeded Mark Shurtleff (R).


Swallow's early childhood was spent near his family's rural alfalfa farm in St. George, Utah, where he got an early education about the state's environmental issues.[1] Following the tragic death of his father, Swallow's mother moved the family to her parents' home in Junaeu, Alaska. Swallow lived between Alaska and Utah until his mother re-married rancher and adopted namesake Richard Swallow, with whom the family eventually settled in Spring Valley, Nevada. As a teenager in Nevada, Swallow worked manual labor, laying pipe on his step-father's hay farm.[2] Swallow and his family moved several more times before his high school graduation.

Prior to making a permanent return to his native Utah in 1983, Swallow, a life-long Mormon, served on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Los Angeles, California, where he learned Spanish. He went on to attend Brigham Young University for his bachelor's degree in psychology and then his law degree from BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School. Swallow excelled at BYU law school, gaining membership to the Law Review.

In 1990, Swallow received his law degree and began his legal career in commercial litigation as an attorney at the firm of Scalley, Reading, Bates, Hansen & Rasmussen. Swallow's success as an attorney earned him appointment as a Judge Pro Tem for the Third District Court and Chair of the Business Section of the Utah State Bar.[3]

Swallow's credentials in the private legal sector include a stint managing litigation as corporate general counsel to a Utah-based dietary supplement company, and establishing his own law practice covering business, real estate, financial, government and corporate matters.[3]


  • B.S. Psychology - Brigham Young University (1987)
  • J.D. Brigham Young University (1990)

Political career

Attorney General of Utah (2013-present)

Swallow was elected to succeed Mark Shurtleff (R) as Utah Attorney General on November 6, 2012. He assumed office on January 7, 2013.


Ethics scandal, FBI investigation

Not long after Swallow's election as attorney general in November 2012, a Utah businessman accused with mail fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering claimed that Swallow arranged a deal to pay Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make the federal investigation on the matter disappear.[4] Businessman Jeremy Johnson, who is accused of operating a $350 million fraudulent business which billed hundreds of thousands of people for products they never purchased, told the Salt Lake Tribune that Swallow arranged a deal for him to pay $600,000 to people connected to Harry Reid. He said it was because he believed that Reid might intervene in the federal investigation into the matter.[4] Johnson provided emails, financial statements, photos, and a transcript of a meeting with Swallow to the newspaper.[4] Reid denied having any involvement in the matter.

Despite Swallow's denial and his claim that he only offered to connect Johnson with a lobbying firm, a poll taken in late January 2013 revealed that only 14% of 500 surveyed Utah voters believed that the newly sworn in attorney general did nothing unethical, and among those who believe he acted illegally or unethically, 49% felt he should resign.[5][6] After the scandal broke, Governor Gary Herbert endorsed ethics reforms for state executive officials[4] involving the creation of creation of an executive ethics commission, similar to the commission that handles ethics complaints against legislative officials. This commission would have jurisdiction over complaints made against the governor's office, attorney general, treasurer, and state auditor.[4]

2012 Primary campaign

The 2012 Republican primary race between Reyes and Swallow was called "one of the dirtiest in years." Organized attacks by SuperPACs were mobilized against both candidates in the week leading up to the June 26 election, spilling over into the candidate debates, and resulting in at least one defamation suit, from Reyes, who accused Swallow of working illegally "in concert" with the Nevada based PAC "It's Now or Never, Inc," to run a smear campaign against him.[7]

Most of the PAC-sponsored anti-Reyes TV and radio spots claimed that he lacked the rectitude and civility required of a high ranking public servant, based on a 1993 reckless driving episode and an alleged under the table cash contribution made to his political consultant. The latter accusation originated from a campaign finance reporting mishap in April involving a $5,000 reimbursement. The sum was "misreported"[8] as a contribution, according to Reyes, and the minor scandal was settled swiftly by the lieutenant governor's office, which oversees state elections. Reyes retaliated by suing Swallow for defamation of character, and by bringing up a disclosure incident from Swallow's 2002 congressional campaign, for which penalties were exacted, in contrast with his Treasurer's mistake from 2012. "He knows he can't beat me when it comes to credentials, either legal credentials or leadership credentials, so he resorts to these kinds of bush league tactics, says Reyes. "[9] The UTE SuperPAC responsible for sending mailers and airing - predominantly radio - spots against Swallow accused the deputy attorney general of being a target of a federal investigation for intervening in a Salt Lake County bid process.[8] Swallow's camp insisted that the mailer in particular, which insinuated the candidate was poised for federal indictment, was a lie, and a "malicious hit piece and a potential violation of state law." [10]

Alliance for a Better UTAH complaint

On March 7, 2013, Crystal Young-Otterstrom and Maryann Martindale filed a petition against Swallow, alleging 12 violations of election law related to financial and business interest disclosures. Young-Otterstrom and Martindale are both with the Alliance for a Better UTAH, a left-leaning think tank. David Irvine, a former Republican state legislator, is acting as their attorney.

Jason Powers, Swallow's campaign consultant, quickly dismissed the petition, stating, “A very quick internet search reveals that on counts one and three Mr Irvine has identified the wrong John Swallow. Such carelessness is pervasive throughout this inaccurate and meritless complaint.”[11]

According to the complaint, election papers filed by Swallow on March 9 were very different from new papers he filed on March 15. Among the differences, the March 9 papers show Swallow as owner of Swallow and Associates, while the March 15 papers only list him as a board member of adviser. It is also alleged that he tried to hide his interest in a number of companies and non-profits.[11]

The petition goes to the lieutenant governor. If deemed to have merit, it will most likely go to the attorney general for an investigation.[12]

Chief Deputy Attorney General (2009-2013)

Swallow was chosen in 2009 to serve under then-attorney general Mark Shurtleff as chief deputy attorney general, overseeing the civil division. As deputy, he spearheaded the state's legal land battles against the federal government, and most prominently, the battle to strike down Obamacare. His legacy includes expanding the office through the creation of the Public Lands Litigation Section. In a Feb 13 statement following announcement of his 2012 bid to replace Shurtleff as AG, Swallow said "I have seen the federal government's intrusion into our lives at almost every level and am committed to putting an end to it."[13]

Utah House of Representatives (1996-2002)

Swallow entered politics in 1996 when he won election to his first of an eventual three terms in the Utah House of Representatives. In the legislature, John served as a Regional Whip, Chair of the Public Utilities and Technology Committee, on the Administrative Rules Review Committee, and the Revenue and Taxation Standing Committee.

During his three terms, Swallow championed conservative social causes such as preventing the passage of a bill to allow non-married couples to adopt children, and fiscal causes cutting taxes. He was named 2000 Utah Taxpayer Advocate of the Year by the Utah Taxpayers’ Association for his sponsorship of one of the biggest tax cuts in Utah history. He also advocated strongly and effectively for 2nd Amendment rights, winning favor with the National Rifle Association.

In 2002 and 2004, John ran for the United States Congress, securing the Republican Party nomination both times but ultimately losing the general elections.



See also: Utah attorney general election, 2012

Although Swallow did not secure the requisite 60% of the delegate vote at the Utah Republican Convention to avoid a primary, he easily defeated opponent Sean D. Reyes in the GOP primary contest on June 26, 2012. He defeated two other candidates in November's general election: Weber County Attorney Dee W. Smith (D), who ran unopposed for his party's nomination, and perennial attorney general candidate, Libertarian W. Andrew McCullough.[14][15]

Attorney General of Utah General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Dee W. Smith 30.1% 269,893
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJohn Swallow 64.6% 579,118
     Libertarian W. Andrew McCullough 5.3% 47,347
Total Votes 896,358
Election Results via Utah Lieutenant Governor (dead link).

  • Primary-2012 Republican Race for Attorney General
    • With 68% of the vote, Swallow overtook Reyes for the Republican nomination.
Attorney General of Utah, Republican Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngJohn Swallow 68% 156,644
Sean D. Reyes 32% 73,868
Total Votes 230,512
Election Results via Utah.gov.



  • Crime

The attorney general is the state's top law enforcement officer, and Swallow's platform on crime focuses heavily on ensuring that Utah's Sheriffs have the resources and latitude to enforce the state's laws, without interference from federal officers. "When they need backup to stand against federal overreach, they need to know that Utah’s Attorney General will be there," Swallow promised on his campaign website.[17] He also cites cracking down on financial crime and prosecuting sex predators as priorities.[17]

  • Healthcare reform

On Swallow's official campaign website, he cites overturning The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, as a priority for the office of attorney general. As chief deputy attorney general under Shurtleff, he played a leading role in Utah's joint effort with other Republican state attorneys general to challenge the "job-killing, unconstitutional"[17] mandates within the President's healthcare overhaul. “Not many people believed we could take the unconstitutional Obamacare bill all the way to the Supreme Court, but we did it.”[17]

  • Illegal Immigration

Swallow supports stringent "enforcement-only" laws regarding illegal immigration. Taken from from his campaign website, "Utah has felt the negative economic impact of the federal government’s neglect of our borders, and when Washington fails to act, it is left up to the states to protect our citizens and safeguard our economy."[17]

  • Second Amendment

Swallow is a staunch defender of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. "Utahn's are gun owners," he said. Swallow was given a top-rating by the National Rifle Association for his work supporting Second Amendment causes as a public servant. The NRA endorsed his bid for attorney general.[17]

  • Public Lands

If elected attorney general, Swallow pledges to continue the the work he has done as deputy to "keep the Sage Grouse from being listed as an endangered species,"[17] and to legally contest federal government policies which restrict access to public lands. He believes that Utah needs protection against overreaching laws like the federal Wild Lands Policy which he says are "killing jobs, hurting our economy, and robbing our children’s classrooms of greatly-needed funding."[17]


Swallow was endorsed by former primary election component Sean D. Reyes[18]14 Republican state attorneys general, including Utah's current, outgoing attorney general Mark Shurtleff.[19]


Swallow lives in Sandy, Utah with wife of 26 years, Suzanne Seader. He has five children: four daughters and one son.



Personal Contact:

Tel: 801.949.9450
Email: JohneSwallow@gmail.com

Campaign Contact:

Tel: 801.759.1397
Email: Jessica Fawson at Jessica@JohnSwallow.com

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Our campaigns.com "John Swallow," accessed March 16, 2012
  2. Deseret News, "2nd Congressional District: Swallow learned responsibility early," October 25, 2004
  3. 3.0 3.1 John Swallow for Utah AG "About John," accessed March 16, 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Daily Herald, "Businessman in fraud case ties Utah AG to scheme," January 13, 2012
  5. The Associated Press - Standard.net, "Poll shows little support for embattled Utah AG Swallow," January 30, 2013
  6. Deseret News, "Many Utah voters say Utah A.G. John Swallow should resign, poll shows," January 30, 2013
  7. KSL.com, "Mysterious ads, slander allegations plague attorney general's race," June 21, 2012
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Desert News, "Republican AG candidates ding each other on campaign finance issues," June 19, 2012
  9. The Desert News, "GOP candidates for Utah attorney general engaged in nasty battle," June 18, 2012
  10. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Mailer alleges Utah AG candidate was investigated by feds," June 13, 2012
  11. 11.0 11.1 FOX 13, "Civil complaint filed against AG John Swallow," March 7, 2013
  12. Salt Lake Tribune, "Group to seek probe, possible removal of John Swallow," March 7, 2013
  13. LegalNewsLine "Four file for in Utah attorney general race," March 13, 2012
  14. Standard-Examiner "Dee: Attorney general campaign won't hurt current job," March 12, 2012
  15. Deseret News "Election Results" Accessed November 6, 2012
  16. CSPAN-Campaign 2012, "Election Results from the Associated Press-UT Attorney General GOP Primary," accessed June 27, 2012
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 17.7 John Swallow for Attorney General, "Home," accessed June 21, 2012
  18. KSL.com, "Negative political advertising 'damages the system'," June 28, 2012
  19. Legal News Line, "Group of state attorneys general endorse swallow in utah's attorney general race," June 8, 2012
Political offices
Preceded by
Mark Shurtleff (R)
Attorney General of Utah
Succeeded by