It is no longer just the Utah Attorney General's Office that is becoming engulfed in the never-ending flow of allegations against Attorney General John Swallow.
The Republican caucus of the Utah House i.e., the group that holds all the power will devote its entire June 19 agenda to discussing the attorney general's woes and whether they are bad enough to justify some action, up to and including impeachment, on the part of the Legislature.
Impeachment is, and should be, a high hurdle. Duly elected public officials should not be removed, or even threatened, over partisan fights or minor transgressions. (Though it is interesting to note that while the Constitution of the United States allows impeachment for "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors," the Utah Constitution sets a lower bar, "high crimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office.")
But the fact that one lawmaker from Swallow's own Republican Party has now called for him to resign, and another has forcefully stated that the House must not shy away from the possibility of an impeachment probe, is evidence that the matter is draining much political energy from a system that has many other important matters before it.
Swallow and his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff, are the focus of probes by federal, state and local officials, and a probe by The Utah Bar has been requested.
The charges are a slimy lot, involving money and expensive perks from businessmen who were either under suspicion, under indictment or actually convicted on matters with the over-arching theme of high-dollar, high-tech flimflams. Shurtleff and Swallow are also accused of extracting favors from people who needed to stay on the good side of the attorney general or risk going to jail.
So far, there have been no criminal charges filed against either Shurtleff or Swallow. It is telling, though, that Shurtleff recently gave up a lucrative lobbying position with a high-powered Washington law firm. The official reason was a variation on the "desire to spend more time with his family" dodge. But it would not be unreasonable to assume that the firm of Troutman Sanders was reasonably worried that being connected to Shurtleff was damaging its credibility.
Likewise, the state of Utah, its government and its dominant Republican Party are all finding their credibility damaged by their ongoing association with Swallow.
Now would be a good time for Swallow to again follow the lead of his mentor Shurtleff, claim that the demands of office, coupled with the ongoing scandals, are too much to bear, and resign his office. So everyone else can get back to work.
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