Is The Salt Lake Tribune conspiring with Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill to take down Attorney General John Swallow so Gill can ascend to the post?
That's what Salt Lake County Republican Party Chairman Chad Bennion asserted in a pair of radio interviews Saturday morning — first while "setting the record straight" on the conservative "Red Meat Radio" and later on the more liberal "Utah Political Capitol" program.
The conspiracy, he contends, explains why The Tribune (and subsequently others) reported on his comments where he questions if Gill's experiences (citing this article) witnessing police brutality growing up in India turned him into a "cop-hater," alleged he has made a string of findings that treat police more harshly than criminals, and questioned his fitness to hold the office.
He said The Tribune purposely misquoted him and that a "false-narrative" has developed as a result.
Bennion said that one of the three cases where Gill's office found a police shooting to be unjustified was eventually dismissed by the court.
The anti-police cases, Bennion says, includes the dismissal of scores of drug cases investigated by West Valley Police's now-disbanded narcotics unit due to various unspecified problems. Bennion contends dismissing so many cases was unwarranted.
He also said that Gill has called him a racist (he hasn't) and that the DA's office put The Tribune up to writing a story about legal troubles Bennion's family has had with the office (it didn't).
Gill is one of two county attorneys who are investigating potential criminal issues arising out of the Attorney General's Office.
However, if Swallow does step down — voluntarily or otherwise — it would be the Republican State Central Committee that would pick his replacement and then there would be an election in either 2014 or 2016, depending on when the resignation occurs.
It's already been noted that Bennion works with attorney Bret Rawson, who is representing one of the police officers accused of the unjustified shooting of Danielle Willard.
Rawson was also part of Marc Jenson's legal team that earlier this summer filed a brief accusing Swallow of extorting Jenson and then throwing him in prison when Jenson quit paying Swallow and his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff.
Bennion asserts another nefarious claim — that a "close relative" of Gill's works at The Tribune. Asking around the office, it appears that in the early-to-mid-'80s, before they met, Gill's wife worked in The Tribune library.
-- Robert Gehrke