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61 law firms submit bids to help with House's John Swallow probe

Published July 25, 2013 3:57 pm

Legislature • Some of biggest U.S. operations seek to become legal counsel.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

More than 60 law firms from across the country — from national powerhouses with hundreds of lawyers to small Utah outfits — are vying to serve as legal counsel to the House committee investigating Republican Attorney General John Swallow.

Thursday marked the deadline for bids, which will be scored and the selection made Aug. 9.

The investigation could cost $500,000 to $3 million, including the cost of hiring attorneys and investigators, depending on the staffing, scope and duration of the probe.

The Legislature cast a wide net, soliciting bids from law firms and schools nationwide.

The legal counsel, according to the bid documents, must be experienced in issuing subpoenas and deposing witnesses.

The nine-member investigative committee — with five Republicans and four Democrats — is expected to report its findings to the full House, where it could serve as the basis for Swallow's impeachment.

Swallow is accused of an array of misconduct, including accepting improper gifts, promising special treatment to donors and helping a major campaign contributor to his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff, try to avoid a federal investigation of his businesses.

Swallow has denied wrongdoing and has said he will cooperate with the House investigation. His attorneys, however, have argued the panel would be overstepping its constitutional bounds if it looked at events that predate their client taking office in January and have reserved the right to challenge the scope of the probe.

Bidders for the contract — 61 in all — included several of the country's biggest firms, according to 2012 rankings by The American Lawyer. They include the Houston firm of Baker & McKenzie, Atlanta-based Jones Day, Chicago-based Sidley Austin, and Phoenix-based Greenberg Traurig, all of which were ranked among the 11 largest-earning firms.

On Tuesday, the lieutenant governor hired the firm of Snell & Wilmer as a special counsel to investigate whether Swallow intentionally omitted business holdings from his campaign-financial disclosure. That inquiry is expected to take up to four months and cost as much as $200,000.

gehrke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @RobertGehrke —

Committee to meet

The special House committee investigating Attorney General John Swallow is scheduled to meet Aug. 6.