SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline) — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this week denied he was ever involved in — or knew of — a deal to have a businessman pay him, or someone connected to him, to make a federal investigation go away.
Reid’s office told The Associated Press Monday that the high-ranking Democrat “had no knowledge or involvement” in the case of St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson.
Spokeswoman Kristen Orthman told the AP that the allegations “are nothing more than innuendo and simply not true.”
Johnson is accused of running a multi-million-dollar fraudulent software scheme in which he billed hundreds of thousands of consumers for products they never ordered.
He has alleged that Utah Attorney General John Swallow arranged a deal to pay Reid to stop a Federal Trade Commission investigation into his business.
Swallow, a Republican, was elected in November to succeed Mark Shurtleff. He took office last week.
Utah Democrats are calling for an investigation into the claims against Swallow.
“These are very serious charges that have been made about the highest levels of Utah’s elected leaders,” State Democratic Chair Jim Dabakis said earlier this week. “The people of Utah deserve to know if their elected officials are crooks or unethical.”
Dabakis has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate.
Swallow also has denied the allegations that he was involved in any such deal. As Utah’s chief deputy attorney general at the time, he told the AP he merely offered to connect Johnson with a lobbying firm.
The Utah Democratic Party is asking residents to sign an online petition calling for an independent investigation of the matter.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.