Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill went to the heart of a crucial question Tuesday when he noted that everyone would have been better off if the federal officials whose job it is to probe official misconduct had not bailed on the investigation of former Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff.
It is hard to make the charge of partisanship stick when Gill is the only Democrat among the platoon of Republicans who have been looking into all the allegations of bribery and lying made against the Republican former officials. But it is true that Utah prosecutors investigating Utah prosecutors was awkward at the very least.
The decision by the Justice Department many months ago to drop its probe has been seized upon, naturally, by Shurtleff and Swallow in support of their claim that they are guiltless. (An argument undermined by the fact that the local office of the FBI never let go.)
But one of the state charges against the former state officials should certainly pique the interest of the feds. That is the part of the case that alleges that Shurtleff cut a back-door deal with Bank of America, a deal that rescued one campaign donor from a seriously upsidedown mortgage in return for the state dropping its efforts to intervene in dozens more cases where BoA’s foreclosure practices were suspect at best.
Shurtleff is accused of overriding his own professional staff — and leaving a lot of victimized Utahns out to dry — by exiting the case and, soon afterward, landing a lucrative job with a law firm that counts Bank of America as a big client. A job he soon left.
These charges should be enough to bring federal investigators back into the case. Not only to see what Shurtleff did, but to hold Bank of America accountable, too.
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