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A.G. should resign

Published May 12, 2013 5:11 pm

Office has been tarnished enough
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

It was clear months ago that Utah Attorney General John Swallow should resign. Now, with allegations of misconduct piling up and House Speaker Becky Lockhart hinting that the Legislature might consider impeaching the state's top law enforcement officer, there is no getting around it.

Swallow cannot and should not try to continue representing Utah's legal interests.

The FBI is investigating Swallow, and the Utah lieutenant governor's office will appoint a special counsel to investigate three alleged campaign-law violations. Even if none of these allegations rises to the level of criminal conduct, his obvious lack of an ethical compass disqualifies him to continue in office:

• In just the latest in a string of revelations connecting Swallow with men accused of crimes, Marc Sessions Jenson, who faces charges he swindled millions from investors, gave the FBI receipts he says show he gave Swallow and then-Attorney General Mark Shurtleff free meals, massages, golf outings and rooms at a gated Newport Beach villa.

• Indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson claims that Swallow, when he was chief deputy to Shurtleff, helped arrange payments meant to be sent to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in an attempt to help Johnson avoid a federal investigation of his business.

• Three Utah businessmen say that Swallow, when he was raising money for Shurtleff, implied they would receive special protection from the A.G.'s office if they contributed.

Traci Gundersen, former head of the state's Division of Consumer Protection, filed an ethics complaint with the Utah Bar last week which states that Swallow last year had conversations with a businessman facing a $400,000 fine for violating telemarketing laws and failed to inform the agency. The complaint calls his actions a violation of his duty to represent the agency as chief deputy in the A.G.'s office.

Brigham Young University's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy found in a March poll that 83 percent of those surveyed had heard of the allegations against Swallow. Of those, 32 percent believed Swallow had broken the law, 62 percent said he had acted unethically, and 7 percent responded that he had done nothing wrong. Seventy-eight percent said the A.G. should resign.

Swallow is not the person Utahns should have as their chief law enforcement officer. And they know it. He does not have the people's trust and doesn't deserve it.

The attorney general should do the right thing — finally — and resign.