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House panel to reveal findings in Swallow probe starting today

Published December 19, 2013 11:07 am

Legislature • Investigators ''have a lot of information to present.''
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

The findings of a five-month, $2.3 million investigation of alleged favors, gifts, deals and disappearing data surrounding former Attorney General John Swallow will be revealed to Utahns over two days starting Thursday — a watershed event in the nearly yearlong scandal that forced him from office.

"We are going to present the results of our investigative work," said Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, chairman of the House Special Investigative Committee. "It will go over two days, both [Thursday] and Friday, and we anticipate they'll be fairly full days. We've done a lot of work and have a lot of information to present."

Steve Reich, the special counsel hired by the bipartisan panel, and his associate Steve Ross, along with lead investigator Jim Mintz, are expected to run through the findings of their work. A written report is not expected for several weeks.

Dunnigan wouldn't divulge what investigators found, although the 17 subpoenas — nine were later withdrawn — and 140 witnesses make clear that they cast a wide net during the inquiry.

Lawmakers cut short their fact-finding probe after Swallow stepped down earlier this month.

"What I'm hoping for is, when we're done, the taxpayers to know we took seriously the job we had and made sure this was done correctly," said committee member Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry. "It was a good investigation, what part we've done and where we've gone until now."

One issue that the committee has discussed openly is the disappearance of electronic data from a total of seven of Swallow's devices. The former attorney general's state-issued laptop and desktop computers and a handheld device were wiped clean before data were transferred after his November 2012 election. He said his home computer crashed, he got a new cellphone and lost an iPad and an external hard drive with the data from his state-issued computers.

Investigators believe an unknown number of emails and calendar entries also were lost.

Reich, a member of the defense team during then-President Bill Clinton's impeachment, has described the scope of the missing data in the Swallow matter as unlike anything he has ever seen.

Reich has said he was confident the U.S. Department of Justice — which concluded its investigation in September and announced it would not file charges against Swallow or his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff — did not know about the lost data.

Dunnigan said forensic experts were unable to recover any information from Swallow's state computers.

Acting Attorney General Brian Tarbet, who for nearly a year has led the office's response to the various probes, said last week that he was not aware of any documents that had been recovered from the computers but that he hoped investigators would be able to retrieve every bit of information that was stored on them.

Tarbet, one of three finalists whom Gov. Gary Herbert is considering to replace Swallow, said the attorney general's office has provided more than 28,500 documents to the committee in response to the subpoenas.

gehrke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @RobertGehrke —

Watch the meeting

KUTV plans to live-stream Thursday's meeting of the Utah House Special Investigative Committee starting at 10 a.m. You can view the proceedings at sltrib.com.