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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Report: House committee holds first meeting in Utah AG probe

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Aug 7, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline) -- A House investigation into embattled Utah Attorney General John Swallow is officially underway.

The nine-member special investigatory committee met for the first time Tuesday afternoon, according to the Deseret News.

However, the committee may not meet again, in public, until November or December, the newspaper reported.

It is estimated that the House investigation could cost anywhere from $500,000 to $3 million. Most of that money will end up going to outside, special counsel.

More than 60 law firms submitted bids to the state Legislature for a chance to investigate Swallow. By the end of the week, a contract will be awarded.

All information and evidence gathered by the outside lawyers will be handed over to the House committee.

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.

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.

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

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