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Senator aims to close loophole Swallow exploited
Utah politics » Bill would strengthen the rules and conflict-of-interest safeguards for top state officials.
First Published Feb 21 2013 05:30 pm • Last Updated May 21 2013 11:34 pm

A state senator is looking to close a loophole that allowed Attorney General John Swallow to do undisclosed outside consulting work while he was the No. 2 law enforcement officer in the state.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said SB83 is a direct response to Swallow’s outside consulting work on a Nevada cement project. "I’m not going to deny that," Weiler said.

At a glance

Moonlighting in A.G.’s Office

Chief Deputy Kirk Torgensen » Teaches constitutional law at the University of Utah and search and seizure and a course on critical legal issues at Weber State University. He also teaches a course that includes internal-affairs investigations at the police academy.

General Counsel Brian Tarbet » Teaches American Military and Defense Institutions at Utah State University.

Director of Communications and Policy Paul Murphy » Consults on the National Amber Alert Training and Assistance Program. He also teaches Amber Alert training and writes a newsletter on the program.

Deputy Communications Director Ryan Bruckman » Acts and directs in community theater, receiving tickets for his work.

Director of Law Enforcement Ken Wallentine » Teaches search and seizure and canine legal issues at the policy academy. He is not compensated for the course but does use the POST firing range. He also consults on police practices and policy and is employed by a law enforcement policy-consulting firm.

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Swallow has argued the work was permissible because the rules regarding outside work by career lawyers in the office didn’t apply to him, since he was a political appointee of then-Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

"Really, the core of it is making political appointees in an office working side by side with career employees or attorneys play by the same rules," Weiler said.

SB83 would restrict employment for those top managers working for the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer and auditor. Policies would be required to prevent conflicts of interest between the outside work and the employees’ regular jobs.

Weiler said his constituents were upset that Swallow was a full-time, salaried employee with a six-figure compensation package who made $23,500, doing 100 hours of consulting work on the side over the period of a few months.

Weiler said he has not heard much opposition to the bill from any of the agencies that would be affected, including the Attorney General’s Office.

"We appreciate the time and care Senator Weiler put into this issue and hope the bill will benefit all state employees," Paul Murphy, a spokesman for the attorney general, said in a statement.

Swallow made $210,000 a year in salary and benefits as chief deputy.

Swallow had done work for the late Check City founder Richard Rawle, acting as his eyes and ears on a limestone cement project in Nevada and lining up two attorneys to deal with American Indian issues in the Silver State.

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Rawle paid him with money he had received for attempting to help St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson — then a friend of Swallow and a prominent donor to Shurtleff — derail a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Johnson’s I Works business.

Johnson paid Rawle $250,000, the first payment on a $600,000 deal intended to enlist Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to weigh in on Johnson’s behalf. Reid has denied any knowledge of Johnson’s case.

When Swallow learned that Rawle had paid him with Johnson’s money, Swallow returned the funds and asked to be paid from another account.

Neither the payment nor Swallow’s stake in the consulting business, P-Solutions, was disclosed on his candidate financial disclosure.

Swallow had removed himself as an officer in P-Solutions and two other companies — SSV Management and I Aware — the day he filed his financial disclosure. He put all three into his wife’s name, but did not disclose her interest in the companies on his disclosure, either.

Shurtleff said in a recent interview that he had no idea Swallow was doing the consulting work and, while it didn’t specifically violate the office policy at the time, he disapproved of the arrangement when he found out about it.

"While it’s legal, I don’t think it’s a good idea," Shurtleff said. "I don’t like it."

Swallow was not alone in doing additional paid work outside the office, with several top officials in the Attorney General’s Office teaching law or criminal justice courses.

Chief Deputy Kirk Torgensen, for example, teaches a law course at the University of Utah and Weber State University and also teaches a course on internal affairs at the police academy.

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