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Recording shows Swallow aide tried to keep lid on scandal

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Jason Powers, who owns and operates Guidant Strategies and was a key campaign consultant for former Attorney General John Swallow, is coming under scrutiny. Courtesy Guidant Strategies.

By Robert Gehrke

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jun 06 2014 10:11PM
Updated Jun 7, 2014 07:15PM

Even in early 2012, a secret deal that John Swallow arranged to help embattled businessman Jeremy Johnson stay out of trouble with federal regulators posed such a threat to Swallow’s campaign for attorney general that his top strategist visited Johnson in St. George in an attempt to keep the deal under wraps, a newly obtained recording of the meeting shows.

The ticking time bomb stemmed from $250,000 that Johnson and business partner Scott Leavitt had paid to Swallow’s former employer, payday-lending magnate Richard Rawle, to help Johnson’s I Works derail a federal investigation of the business.

But little was apparently done on Johnson’s behalf. The investigation had rolled on. The Federal Trade Commission had sued. And Leavitt, who had lost his home, wanted all or some of his money back.

Some of the money — $23,500 — was paid to Swallow for consulting work he did for Rawle on a Nevada cement project. Swallow said he later returned that money when he learned it came from Johnson and was paid from another of Rawle’s accounts.

gehrke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @RobertGehrke

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