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Rolly: He’s baaaack — Swallow operative behind payday-lender PAC

First Published      Last Updated Dec 01 2015 10:02 pm

Jason Powers, the controversial political operative whose dark-money campaign tactics came to light during the John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff criminal investigations, is back in business in Utah.

He is working with his brother, Greg Powers, whose G1 Consulting has contracted with Gary Herbert's Governor's Leadership Political Action Committee.

But Greg Powers and Marty Carpenter, a spokesman for the governor's re-election campaign, say the contract stipulates that G1's data-entry work will not be delegated to anyone other than Greg Powers.

That point was made specifically to ensure Jason Powers would not be involved in any work for the governor's PAC, Carpenter said.




Greg Powers said his brother is not a partner or employee in the firm, although he gives him work on some G1 contracts — but nothing having to do with the governor.

Jason Powers popped up in a Utah House investigation into former Attorney General Swallow that found a pay-to-play culture in the attorney general's office.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings eventually filed criminal corruption charges against the two former officeholders.

The probes revealed that Jason Powers orchestrated a scheme to undermine the campaign of state Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, who was targeted by payday lenders after he proposed tighter regulations on that industry, which had a cozy relationship with Swallow and Shurtleff.

Powers set up a nonprofit called the Proper Role of Government Education Association that inundated Daw's district with campaign propaganda labeling the GOP incumbent as a socialist and President Barack Obama sympathizer.

The investigations discovered the nonprofit, which also attacked Swallow's 2012 GOP opponent, Sean Reyes, was almost entirely funded by the payday-lending industry, although the donors were kept anonymous at the time of the mudslinging.

The deception so offended Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, that they paid for a YouTube video denouncing the tactics.

It also led now-House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, to sponsor a bill forcing nonprofits to disclose their donors if they spend more than $750 in a calendar year on political causes.

Before the revelations of Jason Powers' tactics against Daw — who lost the 2012 race before reclaiming his seat in 2014 — many Republican candidates employed Jason Powers as their campaign strategist.

They included Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, former state Rep. and 2012 congressional candidate Carl Wimmer, state Auditor John Dougall, and several other GOP legislators — even Niederhauser.

After the Swallow-Shurtleff scandal, Powers disappeared from the political scene in Utah and moved out of state. Although he has never been charged, he reportedly was looked at by prosecutors Gill and Rawlings, and was a possible witness in the case against the former attorneys general.

Now that he is back, he can continue to maintain a low profile by piecemeal work through his brother's company.

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