Jessica M. Karmasek Oct. 16, 2013, 4:00pm

SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline) -- The Utah State Bar has closed its case against Attorney General John Swallow.

Swallow was accused by the Alliance for a Better Utah in January of violating rules of professional conduct.

According to Swallow's office, the bar sent a letter Oct. 8 stating it thoroughly reviewed the alliance's allegations and "must decline to prosecute the matter and the case will be closed."

"I am grateful to the bar for its careful consideration of the allegations and for its reasoned analysis in closing the case," Swallow said in a statement late Sunday. "Despite the early rush to judgment, it is now becoming clear that people with an agenda have made unsubstantiated allegations.

"I am happy to report the Attorney General's Office is running well and I am looking forward to the resolution of these unfounded complaints so I can continue to do the work I was elected to do by the people of this state."

The letter was sent to the attorney general and Maryanne Martindale, who filed the complaint Jan. 23.

Martindale said she is disappointed with the bar's decision not to investigate.

"We have only one agenda: bringing balance, transparency and accountability to Utah political institutions and elected officials. This is an agenda that, apparently, the Utah Bar Association does not share with us," she said in a statement.

"Though the bar association castigated us for discussing our complaint with the media, we did not learn that the bar had dismissed our complaint except through the media. Such administrative incompetence should be deeply concerning for the people of Utah."

Martindale said the alliance is "still waiting" to receive the Oct. 8 letter.

"The state bar should have properly alerted us to the letter and the contents of the letter before engaging in their own media campaign to protect their own," she said.

"But news that the bar has dismissed the complaint is only one facet of this troubling issue. The other, more crucial concern, is that there are apparently no ethical prohibitions on public attorneys' fund-raising practices and the conflicts of interest they may create -- and that the bar apparently has no independent investigative authority even if such rules existed."

She contends the bar should revisit its own procedures for determining ethical conduct on the part of its attorneys and revise the rules that currently excuse unethical behavior.

"Today's announcement by the Utah Bar Association may not be an indictment of the attorney general, but it is certainly an indictment of the bar itself. This is an unfortunate day for Utah," Martindale said Sunday.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice, which worked in coordination with the FBI, said it would not bring any charges against Swallow, a Republican.

However, the attorney general has been accused of other ethics and election law violations and still is being investigated by the state House of Representatives, the Lieutenant Governor's Office and the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office.

According to the Deseret News, those investigations likely will extend into next year.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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