State won’t seek to invalidate Swallow’s election

SALT LAKE CITY – Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox announced Wednesday that his office will not seek to invalidate the 2012 election of Attorney General John Swallow.

A civil case will not be pursued

Last week John Swallow announced his resignation as the state’s attorney general after nearly 11 months in office. The resignation, Swallow said, came about due to the financial and emotional strain multiple investigations were placing on his office and family. The allegations that triggered the investigations range from ethical misconduct to campaign-disclosure violations. The latter was investigated by the lieutenant governor’s office which has since released a report citing five alleged election-law violations.

In particular, the report claims Swallow purposely omitted information regarding income he received from various business interests.

Swallow’s resignation has met the statutory remedy for the reported violations, Cox said. As such, a civil case against Swallow will not be pursued.

Though the lieutenant governor’s office has wrapped up its investigation, the report will be made available to the Davis and Salt Lake county attorneys. They are jointly investigating Swallow for possible violations of state law.

Though not originally a part of the joint investigation, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told KSL that he and Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings would like to see the report.

“We will see exactly where it fits into our ongoing criminal investigation that we have currently open,” Gill said.

What’s next for the attorney general’s seat?

With Swallow’s resignation, an acting attorney general will be appointed by Gov. Gary Herbert to serve until a new attorney general can be voted in. Swallow’s acting replacement will be one of three people selected from a pool of candidates by the Republican Party State Central Committee. The committee meets on Dec. 14 to choose the three names to be sent to Herbert for consideration.

Whoever the governor chooses will be up for election in 2014.

Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis and others have called for a special election, arguing Swallow wasn’t legally elected in the first place. As Swallow resigned from an office he never truly held, they said, the voters, and not the Republicans, should choose a replacement.

Cox said the state law didn’t work that way and that Dabakis and others were using “Jedi mind tricks” to make their case. A special election could cost the taxpayers as much as $3 million, Cox said, and the special election likely wouldn’t take place until November 2014.

State Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, said someone should be selected to temporarily fill the post and work on restoring the public’s trust in the office, and not seek election.

“What this really needs is someone who is willing to go in there for one year, clean house, make the decisions that need to be made to clean the culture there and then get out,” Valentine said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Dabakis said he favors Valentine’s suggestion and will drop calls for a special election if Herbert and the GOP committee follow this course of action.

Remaining investigations

As the joint investigation in to Swallow by the Salt Lake and Davis county attorneys’ offices continues, so does the investigation by the Utah House Special Investigative Committee – the latter being the investigation that Swallow decried as being a heavy contributor to his reasons for resigning.

The House investigative committee is looking to wrap things up soon, its chairman, Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, told The Salt Lake Tribune. He said the committee will finish its probe and issue a report in the coming weeks.

The numerous allegations, and subsequent investigations against Swallow were originally triggered by accusations made by federally-indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson in January. Swallow has proclaimed his innocence throughout the entire process.

Swallow’s resignation takes affect Dec. 3, 11 days after he made the announcement. Remaining in the attorney general’s seat until then will allow Swallow to qualify for an annual $12,000 state pension once he turns 65.

If criminal actions are taken against Swallow and he is convicted, Cox said Swallow would lose his state employee retirement benefits, the Daily Herald reported.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • Nonbeliever November 29, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    One down, many more to go.

  • Dana November 30, 2013 at 6:08 am

    “State won’t seek to invalidate Swallow’s election”
    “…the lieutenant governor’s office which has since released a report citing five alleged election-law violations.”

    No one is surprised that Swallow is getting a pass.
    Maybe there’s a spot for him on Obama’s Team. After all, lying and omission of facts is a prerequisite …and apparently, Swallow has it down to a science.

  • Combat Vet and Democrat November 30, 2013 at 8:54 am

    It would seem silly to spend money on a special election but, the idea of appointing someone nonpolitical for a year does make sense. Maybe Utah’s reputation as a home base for fly-by-night companies and on-line scams could be improved.

    If Swallow draws a dime of state retirement someone else needs to be investigated.

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