OPINION – There will be no tears shed for John Swallow, who today finds himself among the common people again.
At least from this corner.
Swallow’s resignation, which took effect today at 12:01 a.m., probably closes the book on a political career that was marked by a couple of wins (he was a member of the Utah House for six years), a couple of losses (he was beaten twice when he challenged Democrat Jim Matheson for his seat in the U.S. House even though he ran in the heavily gerrymandered 2nd Congressional District), a political appointment, and his final win, a decisive victory in his run for attorney general.
Swallow dodged a bullet earlier this year when the U.S. Department of Justice decided not to prosecute charges brought against him for misconduct that included allegations that he operated as a bag man for Jeremy Johnson, a guy facing federal fraud charges who was trying to buy his way out of trouble by paying a substantial amount of money to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to have the matter settled. Reid, of course, denied it all.
Swallow hasn’t been so lucky, however, as state investigators continue looking into alleged false and misleading statements he made about his personal financial state on campaign disclosure forms filed in connection with his election in 2012.
There are other, more egregious issues in play with the former attorney general, particularly surrounding the disappearance of some vital emails regarding the Department of Justice investigation, that were wiped from his state-issued laptop and computer, his home computer, and other electronic communications devices, that the feds were searching for during their investigation. There are missing emails from every one of the electronic devices Swallow has owned since 2009.
It’s gone, all gone, in a manner so Nixonian it is frightening.
Nixon had his erased audio tapes, Swallow has his erased emails, conveniently lost just before the feds began their probe.
What he forgot, however, is the primary lesson learned from the Nixon fiasco: The cover-up, or perceived cover-up, is worse than the crime, at least as far as the public is concerned.
Swallow and his apologists are trying to shrug it all off.
“Why they’re missing (Swallow’s emails), we don’t know, and I don’t think John knows,” Paul Murphy, spokesman for the Utah Attorney General’s Office, said of the missing emails.
There is reason, of course, to believe that Swallow knows exactly what happened to those emails as he is heard asking Johnson, the man facing federal fraud charges, if there was a paper trail between them during a clandestine meeting at an out-of-the-way donut shop in Orem that Johnson secretly recorded. See that transcript here: John-Swallow-Jeremy-Johnson-Krispy-Kreme-Meeting.
Still, nobody seems to know what happened to the missing Swallow emails.
“I don’t know,” as any parent understands, translates directly into “I don’t want you to know.” It’s one of the first thing kids learn to get off the hook when faced with a truth that could be embarrassing. It is almost always a lie, a deflection of the matter at hand, an insult to the intelligence of the persons upon whose ears the line falls.
I think that, and Swallow’s inborn arrogance, inflamed state investigators and made them bite down harder on the case. I mean, even the governor lost confidence in Swallow, telling The Deseret News: “I can say that if he worked for me with all that’s coming up, he wouldn’t be working for me today.”
Well, starting today, he no longer works for the people of Utah, who swept him into office with 64 percent of the popular vote. Toward the end of his tenure, more than 70 percent of Utahns thought he should resign or be impeached.
That is quite a turnaround by anybody’s count.
Perhaps that is why the lieutenant governor’s office is not holding a special election to replace Swallow, leaving it to the governor to appoint a successor.
Hopefully, Herbert will break the run of misfortune Utahns have suffered in the attorney general’s Office, dating back to Mark Shurtleff.
Perhaps we can have an attorney general who will respect the office, understand that the law applies to everyone and not just the privileged or those of similar cultural or political persuasion.
Perhaps we can have an attorney general who will understand decency and reverse the office’s policy of turning a blind eye to polygamy, as both Shurtleff and Swallow have done, and put an end to the sickening abuses that have gone unfettered, unchallenged, unpunished for far too long.
Perhaps we can have an attorney general who will understand that the pursuit of justice is more important than the pursuit of the law and conduct the duties of office with a humane, rather than political, agenda.
The law is designed to protect and to serve the residents of Utah and not favor some while segregating others.
The Utah attorney general’s office needs cleansing to remove the detritus of the last dozen years, to restore the people’s confidence in its elected officials, to balance a field that has been tilted for far too long.
No bad days!
- State won’t seek to invalidate Swallow’s election
- Swallow resigns, blames House committee
- Attorney general’s office, House committee make deal on records; new subpoenas issued
- Swallow denies deleting documents, fires back at committee
- Utah State Bar drops ethical misconduct complaint agaisnt Swallow
- Department of Justice declines to prosecute Swallow
- Snow resigns as chair of AG Investigation, replaced by Dunnigan; no Southern Utah representation
- The WAY I see it: Utah politics are the new ‘Chicago politics’
- Governor calls Special Legislative Session to equip investigation of AG Swallow
- Special House Committee opens investigation on Attorney General John Swallow
- Take Action Utah Initiative calls for process for John Swallow
- On the EDge: Time for Swallow to go
- Leaked: Attorney General John Swallow: ‘Impeaching me would be illegal’
- Government heightens pressure on Jeremy Johnson
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.