Swallow: Money at root of my decision to resign
The day after announcing his resignation, Utah Attorney General John Swallow said Friday that his decision was about money figuring that further draining his much-dwindled personal finances had no chance of ending investigations he faces nor proving his innocence.
And for a different sort of financial reason, he also called on the House to stop its investigation into him. He said tapping the remaining $1.5 million in the probe's projected price tag could be used for far better purposes than continuing to scrutinize him after he leaves office Dec. 3.
Swallow has said he spent about $300,000 so far on legal bills. In a nearly hourlong interview on KSL Radio's "Doug Wright Show," Swallow said he and his wife realized "now we're through our savings â¦ and now we are into our house. We looked at each other and said, 'This is insane.' "
He said he realized investigations "were just getting started, and we are spending so much money. We have got to decide: Are we going to be any better off in two months when our house is gone, or do we stop now?" Swallow said they decided, "We're done."
Swallow again proclaimed his innocence and said he had vowed to fight as long as possible because of that. But he said when the House decided to proceed with its probe even after the U.S. Department of Justice had decided not to file charges against him, "It was over because I could only last so long paying for my defense before I was done."
The departing Republican attorney general urged the House to end its investigation Â which has spent about $1.5 million so far Â and funnel the rest of the project expenses to other programs, saying he considers that probe moot now that he is leaving office.
"A million and a half dollars can do a whole lot for a lot of programs in this state, for Medicaid, for a great program we're coming up with in our office that's going to make our schools a lot safer," he told Wright. "A million and a half [dollars] sent to my former office would raise the level of salary for my employees to the same level that the legislators' own lawyers are making right now, which would stop the drain of talent that we're losing from our office.
"I believe if cooler heads prevail," Swallow added, "the taxpayers of Utah are not going to want the Legislature to spend another $1.5 million" pursuing him, since he will already be out of office.
However, House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, has said she is committed to fulfilling the investigative committee's mission: to ferret out facts surrounding a litany of alleged misconduct by Swallow, and recommend changes to Utah law that might prevent such scandals.
Swallow, who took office in January, has faced claims of facilitating bribes, promises of preferential treatment in exchange for donations, extortion, receiving improper gifts and violating campaign-disclosure laws.
Swallow ended his appearance on the "Doug Wright Show" by saying tearfully, "My conscience is clear. ... Before God, before the people of Utah, I can say that. I love this state. I love the people of this state. I'm sorry I have to leave, but I have to leave. It's best for my family. It's best for the state. I accept that."