John Swallow

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John Swallow
John Swallow.jpg
Attorney General of Utah
Former officeholder
In office
January 7, 2013-December 3, 2013 (Resigned)
PredecessorMark Shurtleff (R)
Base salary$98,509
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First electedNovember 6, 2012
Campaign $$1,062,982
Term limitsNone
Prior offices
Utah Chief Deputy Attorney General
Utah House of Representatives
Bachelor'sBrigham Young University (1987)
J.D.Brigham Young University Law School (1990)
Date of birthNovember 10, 1962
Place of birthSan Gabriel, California
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 in San Gabriel, California) was the Attorney General of Utah. A Republican, he was first elected on November 6, 2012 and took office on January 7, 2013, succeeding Mark Shurtleff (R).

On November 21, Swallow announced his resignation, which became effective on December 3, 2013.[1] Gov. Gary Herbert (R) will appoint a new permanent attorney general from a list of three choices given to him by the Republican State Central Committee. They are scheduled to meet December 14.[2]

Soon after his election, Swallow was beset with a series of controversies that led him to become the subject of federal, state and local investigations involving allegations of election law violations and questionable dealings with businessmen who were also under investigation. Swallow had only officially held office for six days before numerous groups and individuals, both conservative and liberal, have called for his resignation.[3][4] Swallow had long said he had no plans to resign, stating, "I'm not a perfect person, but I tell you I'm sure not a criminal."[5]

Swallow entered politics in 1996, when he won election to the Utah House of Representatives. In 2009, he was named Chief Deputy Attorney General. In that role he led Utah's fight to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.[6]


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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[9]


  • B.S. Psychology - Brigham Young University (1987)
  • J.D. Brigham Young University (1990)
    • Member of the Brigham Young University Law Review[6]

Political career

Attorney General of Utah (January 2013-December 2013)

Swallow was elected to succeed Mark Shurtleff (R) as Utah Attorney General on November 6, 2012. He assumed office on January 7, 2013 and resigned December 3, 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.[10] 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.[10] Johnson provided emails, financial statements, photos, and a transcript of a meeting with Swallow to the newspaper.[10] 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.[11][12] After the scandal broke, Governor Gary Herbert endorsed ethics reforms for state executive officials[10] involving the 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.[10]

On May 6, 2013, the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah was removed from the case without providing a reason. A statement from the office said, "In consultation with the Department of Justice, it has been determined that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah would be recused from this matter going forward. The Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice will continue the investigation."[13]

The federal investigation ended September 12, 2013 without any charges being filed. The agency did not offer any comment on the case. Swallow responded to the news, saying, "I knew at the time that I hadn't done anything wrong. And now the people of Utah know that they can trust their attorney general." Several other investigations into Swallow remain pending.[14]

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.[15]

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"[16] 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. "[17] 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.[16] 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." [18]

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 (ABU), 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.”[19]

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 showed Swallow as owner of Swallow and Associates, while the March 15 papers only listed 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.[19]

The petition went to the lieutenant governor.[20] As a result of the ABU complaint, it was discovered that state law required the Attorney General to investigate election complaints, even if the AG was the subject of the complaint. In response, the Legislature rushed Senate Bill 289 through on the last day of the session. Under the bill, the Utah Lieutenant Governor is given the power to name an independent special counsel to investigate the AG.[21][22] The bill was signed by Gov. Gary Herbert (R) on March 27, 2013. [23]

On April 9, Swallow's lawyers filed a written response with the lieutenant governor's office. He did not make the document public, leaving that decision up to the lieutenant governor's office. Chief deputy lieutenant governor and state elections director Mark Thomas said it would be reviewed and would be released if it does not impact the investigation.[24]

The lieutenant governor's office announced on May 10 that nine of the 12 allegations were dismissed and that it would appoint special counsel to investigate the other three. Two of the remaining counts allege Swallow failed to disclose his position as owner or manager of P Solutions and SSV Management, and that he received over $5,000 from P Solutions and RMR Consulting. The other allegation accuses him of making false and misleading statements on campaign disclosure forms.[25]

Special investigative committee

With numerous investigations and controversies surrounding Swallow, and with the attorney general saying he would not resign, talk of possible impeachment gained ground from all sides, including Republican lawmakers. Indeed, even Gov. Gary Herbert (R) chimed in, saying on June 11, 2013, that he would fire Swallow if he worked for him.[26]

After a Republican House Caucus meeting to discuss impeachment on June 19, lawmakers instead chose to create an investigative committee outside of the impeachment process to determine if the situation is hurting the public trust. In response, Swallow, who stated once again that he wouldn't resign, said, “I think they got it right today where they decided it wasn’t time yet to start any serious discussion about impeachment. They simply need answers.”[27]

The creation of the committee does not rule out the possibility of future impeachment proceedings. Under the Utah Constitution, the House is responsible for impeaching officials, while the Senate decides if they remain in office.[27] The House approved the creation of the committee on July 3 by a vote of 69-3. It consists of nine members and has subpoena power.[28]

Gov. Herbert called a special session to set the powers of the investigative panel and adjust open meetings laws in order to avoid making meetings public when it could hinder the investigation.[29] The governor added three additional items to the agenda as well, including giving out-of-state attorneys the power to help with the investigation into Swallow.[30][31] Lawmakers set up the nine member committee, with five Republicans and four Democrats, to investigate Swallow.[32][33] The Utah Democratic Party released a statement critical of the special session's decisions regarding the panel, noting that past ethics panels have been nonpartisan and arguing that the chair should not have the power to grant immunity or close the meetings to the public at will.[34]

On July 23, the state elections office announced they had hired the Phoenix-based law firm of Snell & Wilmer to act as special counsel in the investigation. It is expected to cost $200,000 and last up to four months.[35]

Swallow was served with a subpoena from the Committee on September 26, seeking emails, receipt and cell phone conversations dating back to December 2009.[36]

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."[37]

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.[38][39]

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



  • 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.[41] He also cites cracking down on financial crime and prosecuting sex predators as priorities.[41]

  • 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"[41] 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.”[41]

  • 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."[41]

  • 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.[41]

  • 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,"[41] 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."[41]


Swallow was endorsed by former primary election opponent Sean D. Reyes and 14 Republican state attorneys general, including Utah's then current, outgoing attorney general Mark Shurtleff.[42][43]

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Swallow is available dating back to 1996. Based on available campaign finance records, Swallow raised a total of $1,062,982 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 9, 2013.[44]

John Swallow's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Utah Attorney General Won $991,338
2000 UT House of Representatives Won $25,536
1998 UT House of Representatives Won $33,515
1996 UT House of Representatives Won $12,593
Grand Total Raised $1,062,982


Swallow won election to the position of Utah Attorney General in 2012. During that election cycle, Swallow raised a total of $991,338.


Swallow unsuccessfully ran for Congress in District 2, in 2004. After successfully defeating Tim Bridgewater in the June primary race, Swallow lost in the general election.

On November 2, 2004, Jim Matheson won re-election to the United States House. He defeated John Swallow (R), Jeremy Paul Petersen (Constitution), Ronald R. Amos (Personal Choice) and Patrick S. Diehl (G) in the general election.[45]

U.S. House, Utah District 2 General Election, 2004
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJim Matheson incumbent 54.8% 187,250
     Republican John Swallow 43.2% 147,778
     Constitution Jeremy Paul Petersen 1% 3,541
     Personal Choice Ronald R. Amos 0.4% 1,210
     Green Patrick S. Diehl 0.6% 2,189
Total Votes 341,968


Swallow unsuccessfully ran for Congress in District 2, in 2002. After successfully defeating Tim Bridgewater in the June primary race, Swallow lost in the general election.

On November 5, 2002, Jim Matheson won re-election to the United States House. He defeated John Swallow (R), Ron Copier (L) and Patrick Diehl (G) in the general election.[46]

U.S. House, Utah District 2 General Election, 2002
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJim Matheson incumbent 49.4% 110,764
     Republican John Swallow 48.7% 109,123
     Libertarian Ron Copier 0.7% 1,622
     Green Patrick Diehl 1.2% 2,589
Total Votes 224,098


Swallow lives in Sandy, Utah with wife of 26 years, Suzanne Seader. He has five children: four daughters and one son. Swallow enjoys following athletics, has completed a marathon, and coaches youth sports. He is fluent in Spanish.[47]



Personal Contact:

Tel: 801.949.9450

Campaign Contact:

Tel: 801.759.1397
Email: Jessica Fawson at

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  1. Salt Lake Tribune, "Swallow resigns, proclaiming innocence, says toll on family and office too great," November 21, 2013
  2. Salt Lake Tribune, "GOP plans to pick Swallow successor; Dems say not so fast," November 21, 2013
  3. Huffington Post, John Swallow Investigation: Ethical Probe Of Utah Attorney General Begins, January 31, 2013
  4. KSL, "Alliance for a Better Utah calls for A.G.'s resignation," June 9, 2013
  5. Deseret News, "Attorney General John Swallow says he's no criminal," May 14, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 John Swallow for Attorney General, " Experience," accessed June 10, 2013
  7. Our "John Swallow," accessed March 16, 2012
  8. Deseret News, "2nd Congressional District: Swallow learned responsibility early," October 25, 2004
  9. 9.0 9.1 John Swallow for Utah AG "About John," accessed March 16, 2012
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Daily Herald, "Businessman in fraud case ties Utah AG to scheme," January 13, 2012
  11. The Associated Press -, "Poll shows little support for embattled Utah AG Swallow," January 30, 2013
  12. Deseret News, "Many Utah voters say Utah A.G. John Swallow should resign, poll shows," January 30, 2013
  13. Deseret News, "U.S. Attorney for Utah removed from Swallow investigation," May 6, 2013
  14. SFGate, "Lawyer: No charges for Utah AG in bribery probe," September 12, 2013
  15., "Mysterious ads, slander allegations plague attorney general's race," June 21, 2012
  16. 16.0 16.1 The Desert News, "Republican AG candidates ding each other on campaign finance issues," June 19, 2012
  17. The Desert News, "GOP candidates for Utah attorney general engaged in nasty battle," June 18, 2012
  18. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Mailer alleges Utah AG candidate was investigated by feds," June 13, 2012
  19. 19.0 19.1 FOX 13, "Civil complaint filed against AG John Swallow," March 7, 2013
  20. Salt Lake Tribune, "Group to seek probe, possible removal of John Swallow," March 7, 2013
  21. Huffington Post, "Utah Legislators Rush Legislation Involving Possible Investigation Into Attorney General John Swallow," March 14, 2013
  22. FOX 13, "Legislature passes bill to handle Swallow investigation," March 13, 2013
  23. Legal Newsline, "Bill preventing Utah AG from investigating self signed by governor," March 28, 2013
  24. Deseret News, "Attorney General Swallow files response to alleged election violations," April 9, 2013
  25. Deseret News, "Special counsel to investigate alleged elections violations against Attorney General John Swallow," May 10, 2013
  26. FOX 13 Salt Lake City, "Utah House GOP votes to investigate Attorney General John Swallow," June 19, 2013
  27. 27.0 27.1 Deseret News, "Utah House to investigate Attorney General John Swallow outside of impeachment process," June 19, 2013
  28. Deseret News, "Utah House creates committee to investigate Attorney General John Swallow," July 3, 2013
  29. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Legislature to meet in special session to define powers of panel on Swallow<' july 12, 2013
  30. Deseret News, "More added to Legislature's special session agenda," July 15, 2013
  31. Deseret News, "Legislative leaders expect little debate at special session," July 16, 2013
  32. Salt Lake Tribune, "Nine lawmakers chosen in special session may decide Swallow’s fate," July 17, 2013
  33. Salt Lake Tribune, "Legislature repeals bill to limit feds’ law powers," July 17, 2013
  34. KCSG, "Utah Democrats React to Swallow Special Session Votes," July 18, 2013
  35. ‘’Deseret News,’’ “State appoints law firm to investigate Utah Attorney General John Swallow,” July 23, 2013
  36. FOX 13, "Utah Attorney General served with subpoena," September 26, 2013
  37. LegalNewsLine "Four file for in Utah attorney general race," March 13, 2012
  38. Standard-Examiner "Dee: Attorney general campaign won't hurt current job," March 12, 2012
  39. Deseret News "Election Results" Accessed November 6, 2012
  40. CSPAN-Campaign 2012, "Election Results from the Associated Press-UT Attorney General GOP Primary," accessed June 27, 2012
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 41.3 41.4 41.5 41.6 41.7 John Swallow for Attorney General, "Home," accessed June 21, 2012
  42., "Negative political advertising 'damages the system'," June 28, 2012
  43. Legal News Line, "Group of state attorneys general endorse swallow in utah's attorney general race," June 8, 2012
  44. Follow the Money, " Career fundraising for John Swallow," accessed May 9, 2013
  45. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2004," accessed March 28, 2013
  46. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 2002," accessed March 28, 2013
  47. Office of the Attorney General, John Swallow, accessed August 7, 2013
Political offices
Preceded by
Mark Shurtleff (R)
Attorney General of Utah
January 2013-December 2013
Succeeded by
Brian Tarbet (Interim)