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Questions surround prosecutor seeking to replace Swallow
Swallow saga » Brent Ward removes himself from Jeremy Johnson case, but previous ties could doom his candidacy.


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Johnson dug out a PowerPoint slide of individuals Ward had agreed would not be arrested. That list was placed in the court record.

Nuffer asked again if there were any more promises. Johnson then produced a second list, which included Swallow, and the following exchange ensued between the judge and Ward:

At a glance

Swallow says goodbye, apologizes to staff

After nearly eleven rocky months, John Swallow ended his tenure as Utah’s attorney general Monday, bidding the office farewell and apologizing for any turmoil he caused.

“I have long hoped I would be able to finish my full term and accomplish much more together, but I am grateful for the good we have done — very grateful,” Swallow wrote in an email to staff. “I feel badly and apologize that my time has ended so swiftly and with any degree of controversy.”

Swallow thanked the workers for their professionalism during difficult times and said serving “has been the honor of my life.”

The Republican’s tenure as attorney general was scheduled to officially end Tuesday at 12:01 a.m., less than a year into a four-year term marred from its first week by scandal, allegations of misconduct and multiple investigations.

Swallow has maintained his innocence throughout and had vowed to fight to the end — until Nov. 21, when he announced his plans to resign, citing the financial and personal toll the investigations were taking on him and his family.

The next day, the lieutenant governor’s office issued a report that said Swallow committed multiple violations of state election laws by concealing income he received and interests in several businesses.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox announced last week that — because of Swallow’s departure — he would not go to court to seek to have Swallow’s election voided — the only remedy available to his office.

By staying in office until Dec. 2, Swallow qualified for a state pension of about $12,000 a year once he reaches age 65 — a benefit he would have forfeited had he left a few days earlier.

Swallow remains the focus of a criminal investigation led by top prosecutors in Salt Lake and Davis counties.

A special Utah House committee, which could have laid the groundwork for impeachment, is scheduled to meet Saturday to begin winding down its probe of Swallow. It could be several weeks before the bipartisan panel issues its findings.

Robert Gehrke

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Nuffer: And you’re familiar with this [second] list, Mr. Ward?

Ward: Yes, I am.

Nuffer: OK. Can we mark this as an exhibit?

Ward: Yes, your honor.

Phil Viti, head of the criminal division at the U.S. attorney’s office for Utah, then jumped out of his seat and looked over the list. He appeared to be unfamiliar with the names on it. At that point, the plea deal fell apart.

Outside the courtroom, U.S. Attorney David Barlow denied any threats had been made. Two days later, he issued a statement saying federal prosecutors had not agreed to provide Swallow with immunity.

Ward said Monday the gag order also prevents him from discussing any of the circumstances surrounding the Johnson plea.

Serving as U.S. attorney for Utah from 1981 to 1989, Ward made his reputation by battling pornography. He took down "dial-a-porn" phone sex businesses and hit the owner of Utah’s last two X-rated theaters with tax charges, essentially driving them from business.


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After leaving the U.S. attorney’s office, he became a senior executive at Huntsman Corp. He ran for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate in 1992, but lost to Bob Bennett. He co-founded a business to make "hyper-computers," but it fizzled, and he returned to a government job in 2005, leading a Justice Department task force aimed at stamping out adult smut.

Now Ward wants to clean up the state’s top law office.

"We’ve got a serious problem in the attorney general’s office, as everyone knows, with respect to conflicts of interest and campaign finance regulations and violations."

Some — including state Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, and Utah Democratic Party boss Jim Dabakis — have suggested whoever is appointed to replace Swallow should serve only for a year as a caretaker until an attorney general is elected in November 2014 and sworn in come January 2015.

But Ward said that "doesn’t solve the endemic and ongoing problem of the insidious influence of money in politics."

Ward said that, if he were appointed to take over as attorney general, he would run to keep the post in 2014, but added he would not campaign until a month before the election — even if that meant losing a Republican primary. He said he wouldn’t accept any contribution above the $2,600 federal limit and would reject any donation from an entity that has or might reasonably have business with the attorney general’s office.

He said he would return money from contributors who later have business with the office and would create a website to post campaign donors within 24 hours of a contribution.

The Republican State Central Committee is scheduled to meet Dec. 14 to whittle the field of contenders to replace Swallow to three names. Those names will be sent to Herbert, who will choose one to fill the job.

gehrke@sltrib.com

tharvey@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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