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Swallow's office, House panel reach a deal on recovering missing data

Published November 13, 2013 9:42 pm

Investigation • Parties seek court's approval to gain access to copies of hard drives, servers in the office.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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 Utah attorney general's office and lawyers for a House committee asked a judge Wednesday to sign an order giving investigators access to information needed to try to piece together a swath of Attorney General John Swallow's missing electronic data.

If 3rd District Judge Su Chon agrees to the request, investigators would gain access to copies of hard drives and servers in the office, while preventing the release of private health data that might be stored on the devices.

House investigators had asked the judge to grant access to the devices two weeks ago after they learned that an unknown amount of data from Swallow's electronic devices was gone.

Steven Reich, special counsel for the bipartisan House committee, reported that, in addition to an unknown number of Swallow's emails and calendar entries, e-data may also have been lost from his state-issued laptop and desktop computers along with his handheld data device.

Swallow's home computer also malfunctioned in January — the month he took office — and he replaced his cellphone last year.

Copies were made of devices in the attorney general's office, but officials expressed concern about releasing them, fearing they may contain health data protected under federal law, as well as information about confidential informants and ongoing cases.

The proposed order would let computer experts have copies of the devices. If they recover any data, that information would be returned to the attorney general's office and anything related the committee's subpoenas would be given to investigators.

The attorney general's office said it already has handed over more than 8,000 pages of records to the panel.

The House Special Investigative Committee was created in July to look into a series of allegations against Swallow. So far, the committee has issued 15 subpoenas and cost taxpayers about $700,000.

gehrke@sltrib.com Twitter: @RobertGehrke