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Swallow tells potential donor he’ll revamp Utah consumer protection

Politics » Gov. Gary Herbert says he’s not interested in shifting the agency to the Attorney General’s Office.

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Swallow’s Republican opponent, Sean Reyes, said he wouldn’t be interested in moving consumer protection.

"I think I agree with the Department of Commerce’s position that moving consumer protection would be unwise logistically since the Attorney General’s Office lacks the resources to handle small administrative matters," Reyes said.

Listen to audio of the phone conversation between Utah attorney general candidate John Swallow and businessman Aaron Christner:
Swallow and Christner discuss Christner's problems with the Division of Consumer Protection and Swallow's plans to move the division
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Christner and his partner, Ryan Scott Jensen, have been repeatedly cited by the Department of Commerce since September 2008 for violating state laws.

In 2008, they agreed to pay a fine and cease their telemarketing, but were cited and fined again four months later for violating the agreement. They were cited and fined again in December 2009, then started a series of new companies in September 2010, marketing without a license. In March of last year, the division fined Christner and Jensen $400,000.

But in the recording of the call between Christner and Swallow, the chief deputy attorney general offers several times to arrange a meeting between Christner and Shurtleff.

"I’d be more than happy to have you sit down with the attorney general, I’m not attorney general yet … and have him, if he thinks it’s a good idea, if he thinks you’re right, at least he can help you see if there’s something that can be done to get it worked out with the lawyers here," Swallow said.

"I know there’s always two sides, even to a very thin pancake," Swallow went on to say, "And we’d certainly have to visit with our lawyers and the division chief and see what his take is on things."

Swallow’s campaign said that the candidate, like Shurtleff, "believes the Attorney General’s Office should always maintain an open-door policy."

Burns, who was the Iron County Attorney for 16 years before working as the deputy drug czar in the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, said it’s absurd to think that someone who could be charged with a crime would walk off the street and meet with the attorney general.

"To have the attorney general and chief deputy offer a private, exclusive meeting and the conservation began in the context of a fundraiser, it’s just simply outrageous," Burns said.

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Twitter: @RobertGehrke

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