Utah Legislature set to move authority for a special counsel to LG
With the last day of the Utah Legislative Session upon us, Utah’s representatives are set to finally take action to directly investigate the allegation against Utah Attorney General John Swallow.
In Senate Bill 289, introduced by Senator Pete Knudson, the legislature would grant authority to the Lieutenant Governor to appoint special counsel to investigate elections offenses if the Attorney General has a conflict of interest in a complaint. Under section 4 of the bill, the authority granted to the Lieutenant Governor would be retroactive to March 1, 2013 and would include the complaint filed by Crystal Young-Otterstrom and Maryann Martindale of Alliance for a Better Utah, a left leaning activist group.
Normally, complaints would go directly to the Attorney General’s office and while the Lieutenant Governor’s office has not yet completed its review of the complaint, addressing the conflict in the law during the session is prudent.
“We have no indication from the lieutenant governor about where the complaint is in the process,” said House Speaker Becky Lockhart to the Salt Lake Tribune. “All we know is he approached us and mentioned this complication in the statute that we were unaware of.”
Up to Speed on Swallow
The Salt Lake Tribune sums up the complaint that led to this change:
The complaint includes an allegation that Swallow attempted to conceal his interest in P-Solutions and payments from Richard Rawle, the late founder of the payday lender Check City.
When Swallow filed to run for office on March 9, 2012, he did not list several companies in which he was an officer at the time. He filed an amended return on March 15, the same day he took his name off of several companies, transferring his interests to his wife.
That includes P-Solutions, a company that received $23,500 from Rawle for consulting work on a Nevada limestone quarry, part of a planned cement project.
The money Swallow was paid came from funds St. George business owner Jeremy Johnson paid to Rawle. Swallow had put Johnson in touch with Rawle, Swallow and Rawle insist, to hire lobbyists to help him avoid a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit. Johnson said he and Rawle arranged to pay Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., $600,000, which Johnson has called a bribe.
Reid has denied any knowledge of Johnson’s case.
Swallow’s conduct is the subject of a federal investigation and prompted calls for ethics reform in the Legislature. Democrats have also asked the governor to appoint a special investigator to determine if Swallow violated any state laws.
This is not the first time that Swallow has run afoul of the law, though it is the first time a federal investigation has been announced. You can learn more about Swallow’s colored past here, here, and here. They include accounts of Swallow offering access to his office in return for donations, fluffing claims about his involvement in Obamacare litigation, and alleged investigation by the FBI for interference in municipal contracting.
- Wolves, payday lenders, Rawle and Swallow (hollyonthehill.com)
- Where there’s smoke: a brief history of John Swallow in headlines (publiusonline.com)
- Civil complaint filed against AG John Swallow (fox13now.com)
- Last-minute bill would prevent AG from investigating himself (ksl.com)