How did a meeting at an Orem doughnut shop balloon into the biggest political scandal in Utah history? How did an attorney general who captured nearly two-thirds of the vote see his administration begin to implode a mere four days after taking office? How did his predecessor, elected three times as the state’s top law-enforcement officer, wind up accused of being a crook?
Learn the answers to those questions and more Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m., when The Salt Lake Tribune hosts a free Town Hall forum — "Anatomy of a Scandal" — at Salt Lake City’s Main Library about the rise and political fall of former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff.
Providing the insights will be the newspaper’s award-winning reporting team of Robert Gehrke and Tom Harvey, who together gathered hundreds of documents, obtained hours of recorded conversations, analyzed stacks of campaign contributions and conducted scores of interviews — all of it resulting in nearly 300 news stories that prompted five independent investigations, a string of political reforms and, ultimately, 23 criminal charges against Swallow and Shurtleff.
The panel discussion, led by Tribune moderator Jennifer Napier-Pearce, will include Tribune court reporter Marissa Lang, who covers the attorney general’s office and the criminal cases as they wind through the legal system.
The Swallow-Shurtleff saga is as intriguing as it is complicated. It involves allegations of extortion, influence peddling, witness tampering, evidence destruction, ethical sins and election-law crimes.
"The story represents the value of journalistic persistence, of following the smoke and finding the fire," said Tribune Editor and Publisher Terry Orme. "This evening at the library will give a glimpse behind the scenes of how good watchdog reporters do their jobs."
See how the scandal started, how it spread, how it unraveled and where it is headed — from the reporters who uncovered it. Listen to excerpts of secret recordings — the same ones jurors someday may hear — and view portions of Swallow’s only sworn testimony to date about the allegations.
The forum is free and open to the public. It will be held in the Nancy Tessman Auditorium at the library, 210 E. 400 South. It also will be live-streamed at sltrib.com and broadcast live on KCPW 88.3/105.3 FM.
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