SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline) -- The Utah House of Representatives has started the process of hiring attorneys to help it in its investigation of embattled Attorney General John Swallow.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the House issued a solicitation for law firms or attorneys last week.
The request -- which requires disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest -- was sent out to all members of the Utah State Bar, more than 100 law school deans, two dozen state law firms, the American Bar Association and various bar associations in surrounding states, the Tribune reported.
The deadline to submit bids on the contract, which will be awarded in August, is next week.
All information and evidence gathered by the outside lawyers will be handed over to an investigative committee the House voted to create earlier this month.
Since taking office in January, Swallow, a Republican, has been accused of various ethics and election law violations.
And in recent months, both conservative and liberal groups have called for the embattled attorney general to step down.
The Alliance for a Better Utah filed its 18-page petition with the Lieutenant Governor's Office in March, alleging 12 election law violations by Swallow and requesting he be removed.
The Sutherland Institute, a conservative public policy think tank, also has issued the call, pointing to the Alliance's petition and other allegations.
Among those: Traci Gunderson, the state's former consumer protection director, filed a separate complaint against Swallow with the Utah State Bar in May.
In the complaint, she alleges the attorney general -- inappropriately -- conducted preliminary settlement negotiations with a telemarketing company against which the Division of Consumer Protection had fined.
Swallow did not have permission from the division to do so, Gunderson, a former assistant attorney general, contends.
On top of that, the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah confirmed in January that Swallow is being investigated, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI, for allegations that he helped make a federal investigation into a St. George businessman go away.
Jeremy 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 Swallow arranged a deal to pay U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to stop a Federal Trade Commission investigation into his business.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has said if the attorney general worked for him, he would be fired.
But Herbert would not go as far as call for Swallow's resignation.
The attorney general has maintained he has done nothing wrong, and has refused to step down.
He also claims that state lawmakers don't have the authority to impeach him -- which still remains a possibility.
According to the Tribune, it is estimated that the investigation could cost anywhere from $500,000 to $3 million.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.