Ten finalists to lead Swallow probe; Utah firms don’t make the cut
Courts • The winner will be announced Aug. 9.
Published: August 2, 2013 09:02PM
Updated: August 6, 2013 01:43PM

No Utah firms are among the 10 finalists for the job of legal counsel to the special House committee investigating Attorney General John Swallow.

A five-member committee whittled the field of 61 firms from across the country down to 10 finalists, which it announced Friday. The survivors include major national firms, with three from Illinois, three from Oregon and others from New York, Georgia, California and Minnesota.

“We’re pleased with the number and quality of the firms. The response was well beyond our expectations,” said Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, who is heading up the House investigative committee.

The winner of the contract is scheduled to be announced Friday. The investigative committee, which legislators created last month to look into a slew of allegations of malfeasance against Swallow, plans to hold its first meeting Tuesday.

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.

Once the legal counsel is in place, the committee plans to hire investigators as well. Bidding for that contract has not begun. All told, legislative budget analysts expect the investigation to cost up to $3 million.

The finalists for the legal counsel position are: Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP of New York; the Oregon firms of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Harrang Long Gary Rudnick P.C., and Lane Powell P.C.; the Illinois firms of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Jenner & Block LLP, and Steptoe & Johnson LLP; Jones Day from Georgia; Kelley Wolter & Scott P.A. from Minnesota; and Sidley Austin, based in California.

Jones Day and Sidley Austin are among the 10 largest firms in the United States.

The group that screened the applicants included three members of the investigative committee — Dunnigan, Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden, and Rep. Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake City — Legislative General Counsel John Fellows and Chief Deputy of the House Joe Pyrah.

Swallow is accused of several instances 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 any wrongdoing and has said he will cooperate with the House investigation.

He is also facing investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice, two Utah county attorneys and the lieutenant governor’s office, as well as a pair of complaints to the Utah State Bar.

gehrke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @RobertGehrke