Poll: Majority of Utah voters want AG impeached

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jun 18, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline) -- A majority of Utah voters say they want state lawmakers to start the process of impeaching Attorney General John Swallow, according to a new poll.

The Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University fielded a Utah Voter Poll that included a host of questions about Swallow, who is under fire for possible election law violations and has been accused of various ethics violations in recent months.

According to the survey's results, released this week, 72 percent of those polled say the Utah House of Representatives should allow formal impeachment proceedings to begin.

Of the other 28 percent who do not want impeachment to begin, 62 percent say the legislature should wait until criminal investigations into the attorney general's actions are complete. Only 4 percent said they don't believe the accusations against Swallow, according to the poll.

The poll also found that of the 87 percent of Utah voters who said they have heard, read or seen anything recently about the accusations, 34 percent think Swallow has done something illegal while 63 percent think he has done something unethical. Less than 4 percent believe that the attorney general has done nothing unethical.

Swallow's favorability also is extremely low, the survey found.

Currently, it is sitting at 12 percent -- that is combining "somewhat" and "strongly" favorable.

Less than 2 percent of those surveyed responded "strongly favorable," according to the poll results.

Last week, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said if the attorney general worked for him, he would be fired.

However, Herbert would not go as far as call for Swallow's resignation.

But others have.

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 last month.

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.

Swallow, who took office in January, has maintained he has done nothing wrong.

He also claims that state lawmakers don't have the authority to impeach him.

Over the weekend, state Rep. Brian King, a Democrat, drafted a resolution to begin impeachment proceedings against Swallow, a Republican.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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