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Ethics group says Swallow should take leave

Published March 18, 2013 11:07 am

Politics • A.G. urged to step aside until federal probe is over.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The group Utahns for Ethical Government said Friday that Attorney General John Swallow should take administrative leave until the U.S. Attorney's office completes an investigation into his conduct.

"Until the investigations are completed, the attorney general is operating under a cloud of his own creation," said UEG chairman Kim Burningham.

Burningham said that, to set an example of ethical behavior, Swallow should take paid leave and appoint a deputy to run the office.

The group said it is common in many professions to have an employee be placed on administrative leave while an investigation is being done to determine their fitness to hold positions of public trust, and it makes sense to apply the same standard to the attorney general.

Swallow is the subject of a federal investigation into his conduct with Jeremy Johnson, the founder of I Works, who sought Swallow's help in dealing with a Federal Trade Commission investigation into his business. Johnson and his business partners are facing an 86-count criminal indictment alleging fraud, money laundering and other crimes.

The FBI is also looking into whether Swallow offered special treatment to other donors.

A complaint, drafted by an attorney for UEG, has also been filed with the Lieutenant Governor's Office alleging election violations and seeking Swallow's removal from office.

The attorney general's office pointed to a campaign disclosure complaint filed against Burningham in 2010, when he was running for state school board, over Burningham's failure to list his position with UEG on his campaign disclosure.

In response, David Irvine, who wrote the complaint against Swallow, responded that Burningham should simply be able to amend his disclosure and that Burningham should not be disqualified from the ballot — the sanction Irvine seeks in Swallow's case.