Former Utah Attorney General John Swallow asks federal judge to dismiss donations lawsuit

Former Utah Attorney General John Swallow listens to court proceedings during his public corruption trial, Feb. 22, 2017, in 3rd District Court, Salt Lake City, Utah | Photo courtesy of the Utah Court Pool, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Former Utah Attorney General John Swallow has asked a judge to dismiss a federal lawsuit accusing him and an imprisoned businessman of illegally funneling donations to the campaigns of Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and others.

Swallow’s lawyers also asked a federal judge Tuesday in Salt Lake City to invalidate the rule he’s accused of breaking, arguing it violates free speech.

File photo of Jeremy Johnson, July 2015, St. George News

U.S. District Judge Dee Benson had not yet ruled on the requests.

The Federal Election Commission sued Swallow and former St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, alleging the former attorney general helped Johnson skirt federal laws by giving money to friends and employees who then donated $170,000 to political campaigns.

The lawsuit says money also went to former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid and former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

Swallow and Johnson have denied the claims in the lawsuit.

Allen Dickerson, a lawyer with the Virginia-based Institute for Free Speech, argued that the election rule doesn’t allow someone to be held legally responsible for helping another person break laws.

FEC attorney Sana Chaudhry disagreed, saying the rule is part of the FEC’s broad authority to regulate elections.

Chaudhry said Swallow instructed Johnson about how to get around election laws limiting an individual donor from giving more than $2,400.

The lawsuit could leave Johnson and Swallow facing thousands of dollars in fines if the judge sides with the FEC.

Swallow, who is being aided by a group pushing to undo campaign finance laws, resigned from the job as Utah’s top lawman in 2013 amid allegations of bribery and corruption that emerged soon after he took office.

A jury found him not guilty of nine crimes, including bribery, obstruction of justice and evidence tampering. He’s now suing the state for legal costs.

Johnson is serving a federal prison sentence after being convicted in 2016 of lying to banks. He’s appealing that case.

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Twitter: @STGnews

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5 Comments

  • comments March 30, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Guilty as hell, but he got away with it. Johnson is one of the biggest conmen in history, but got a super light sentence. I wonder why they never required the LDS church to refund the tithing money Johnson paid them that was stolen, fraudulently acquired money. I still find it amusing that the guys that used to do the ‘no filter show’ for stgnews had a close friendship to Johnson. I guess the greatest friends are those that always pick up the tab, huh?

  • Striker4 March 30, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    blah blah blah blah your always so full of it !

  • mmsandie March 30, 2018 at 7:25 pm

    I totally agree with (comments) message..it amazes me when light sentences some people get,, call it favoritism,politics, lds influence and when they do get sentences.. the6 go t the country club facilities..

  • PlanetU March 30, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    I think all my comments tonight will be the same – sneaky rat …
    Ed. ellipsis

  • ladybugavenger March 31, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    He’s guilty as sin

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