SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General John Swallow announced his resignation during a press conference Thursday afternoon. Swallow adamantly maintains his innocence concerning allegations of alleged ethical misconduct and wrongdoing. He said he came to the decision to resign on Sunday after he and his wife evaluated their resources – resources he said that can no longer stand up to the state’s investigation. Swallow blasted the House Special Investigative Committee currently investigating him, which, he said, was calculated to remove him from office and had access to resources with which he couldn’t keep up.
Swallow hopes to clear his name as a private citizen, he said, which he will become on Dec. 3, when his resignation takes effect.
“This is a somber day,” Swallow said, and related he had given Utah Gov. Gary Herbert his letter of resignation Wednesday.
Concerning allegations levied against him by people he said had personal and political agenda, he said: “I have vigorously maintaied my innocence … I have broken no laws.”
“Now is the time for the madness to stop,” Swallow said, and added that he hoped dropping out of the fish bowl of public service would help calm the media storm that has followed him the past 10 months.
When the U.S. Department of Justice dropped its investigation into former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and himself, Swallow said, he and his family hoped it would have had a calming effect on the various other investigations targeting him. Instead, those investigations – particularly that of the Utah House committee – went forward.
He had little good to say about the House committee which has thus far spent $1.5 million of its $3 million budget. By comparison, Swallow said he has spent around $300,000 in legal fees. The committee has the resources of the state of Utah, he said, while he had only private means to defend himself. When he asked the Utah House for funds to help go towards his part of the investigation, the House denied him, Swallow said.
“Pure and simple,” he said, “I believe the House investigation was calculated to drive me from office.”
Swallow said the committee, in his view, was motivated by political and personal agendas. He pointed to the behavior of Steven Reich, the special counsel hired by the committee to investigate him, as an example. He said Reich told the committee that the attorney general’s office was not cooperating with the investigation and that the committee never questioned that claim. Swallow maintains that his office has been cooperative from very the beginning.
“There’s an agenda here to try me in the press,” he said. Fifty front-page stories can destroy anyone, Swallow added, and again said he hopes going into private life will help removed some of the pressure brought on by political and media scrutiny would lessen.
“We have no choice but to step aside,” Swallow said of himself and his family.
As for the allegations brought on my Jeremy Johnson, the ones that started the feeding frenzy of investigations, Swallow said Johnson’s accusations were false and that he had seen documentation that proved it. If he had seen it, then others investigating him had as well, he said. Despite that the investigations continue.
“I’m heartbroken,” he said. “All I ever wanted to do was serve this state.”
Swallow believes his 10 months as the attorney general has left Utah safer, and he is honored to have served the state and its citizens.
“I maintain my innocence,” he said.
There had been reports that Swallows resignation was a part of a deal made with the lieutenant governor’s office to avoid criminal charges related to possible findings of election law violations. Both Swallow and the lieutenant governor’s office have denied any deal was made.
Though he will be stepping down and becoming a private citizen, investigations by the Salt Lake and Davis county attorneys’ offices remain. Swallow said he believes he will not be facing any criminal charges from those investigations as long as they are “fair and thorough.”
There has also been speculation as to whether or not the House committee investigation into Swallow will continue in the wake of the attorney general’s resignation. Some public officials believe it should end, while others have said it should continue.
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