Swallow panel asks Utahns to step forward if they have info on alleged misdeeds
The Utah House investigation into Attorney General John Swallow pressed on Wednesday as committee members met the attorneys and investigators who will lead the effort and urged anyone with information on the alleged misconduct to come forward.
Steven Reich, the lead special counsel for the bipartisan committee, walked the lawmakers through in general terms the approach the investigation will take.
"We are committed to assisting this committee to conduct a full, fair and impartial inquiry," Reich said, "and following the facts of this matter wherever they lead."
Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, chairman of the House committee, offered no estimate for how long the probe will last, except to say that it will take as long as necessary to find all of the facts. The committee is authorized to meet through the end of 2014.
"We don't have an exact timeline of when we expect to have witnesses called before the committee," he said. "They are working on it. They are actively engaged."
Dunnigan encouraged members of the public who might have information relevant to the investigation to contact the committee. The House has posted a link on its website where people can offer such information.
James Mintz, head of the Mintz Group, one of the investigative firms hired to gather information, said anyone who reaches out to the panel would be contacted in a timely manner.
Eric Weeks, an attorney for the Legislature, said that information provided by the public would be exempt from Utah's open-records law, at least until the investigation is completed and possibly longer.
The probe will likely enter a quiet period now as investigators and attorneys work behind the scenes, gathering documents and interviewing witnesses out of the public spotlight. Dunnigan said he doesn't anticipate the committee will meet again for several weeks.
Reich, a veteran of two prior impeachment inquiries and a partner with the firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, was hired by the committee to lead a team of lawyers in the investigation.
He said that, while every probe is different, at the outset he anticipates investigators will begin gathering public records and identifying and interviewing witnesses and coordinating with other investigators. There are currently four other investigations into Swallow's alleged misdeeds.
Later, Reich said, there will likely be sworn testimony taken, subpoenas issued and public hearings to create a record for the committee and the public.
The entire fact-gathering process is projected to cost up to $3 million and could lay the groundwork for the Legislature to impeach the Republican attorney general.
Swallow has denied wrongdoing.
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