This morning, I testified to the Utah House Rules Committee on Resolution 9001 to create a committee that will investigate Attorney General John Swallow. Because of time constraints, I abridged my prepared comments somewhat, but below are the comments I prepared to deliver:
Thank you for this opportunity to speak briefly this morning. I, too, want to commend you for taking up this resolution.
Because the committee created by the resolution will have a limited mandate, I believe the resolution is a fair, careful and wise action towards restoring the public trust.
To wit, the formation of this committee for the collection of information is prudent because
- the legislature has a duty of oversight of executive branch officers,
- the resolution is only investigative in nature and does not allow for any other type of action other than the majority and minority reports, and
- will provide the legislature with its own facts.
This last point is crucial as the legislature should not have to rely on the media, federal prosecutors, or other investigators to determine whether the allegations against the Attorney General are legitimate. Given the media firestorm that has surrounded the Attorney General since he took office, the legislature must gather its own information if it is to fulfill its duty of oversight.
In fact, Attorney General John Swallow himself has said he supports the kind of investigation proposed here today. In comments directly after the House Caucus met on June 19, he said that this would be “a great first step to restoring the public trust” and that he welcomes the opportunity to answer the legislature’s questions. He should be given that opportunity.
Forming a committee with powers limited to investigation is prudent and speaks to the best principles of limited and careful government. Further, it sets a precedent of cautious and deliberative action in the face of immense pressure from the public and the media. I urge you to forward the resolution as drafted with a favorable recommendation.
Fox13 did a story on Resolution 9001 that has a very brief clip of my testimony. Watch it here.
- Speaker of the House calls for session to create Swallow investigative committee (fox13now.com)
- Speaker Lockhart calls the House into session; Rep. Dean Sanpei to sponsor resolution to investigate Swallow (publiusonline.com)
- The Utah House Votes to Investigate and Swallow Reacts (publiusonline.com)