Political leaders distance themselves from bribery scandal

Posted at 12:23 PM, Jan 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-14 18:54:11-05

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released a statement through a spokesman regarding news that Utah's Attorney General John Swallow solicited bribes.

Swallow is facing allegations that he solicited money to influence high-level federal officials. Multimillionaire and philanthropist Jeremy Johnson, who faces felony accusations of fraud under his Internet company "I Works," says Swallow essentially solicited a bribe from Johnson to secure a better deal with federal prosecutors in his case.

The statement says "Senator Reid has no knowledge or involvement regarding Mr. Johnson's case.  These unsubstantiated allegations implying Senator Reid's involvement are nothing more than innuendo and simply not true."

Utah's top Republican leaders are also staying on the sidelines.

Governor Gary Herbert's spokesman released the following statement: "All the Governor knows is what he has read in the paper, and it would be irresponsible to arrive at conclusions based only on that alone. The fact is there is a current investigation of Mr. Johnson and federal agencies are aware of the allegations. This is an instance when facts should not be politicized and process should be followed."

Utah Democrats are pushing for an independent investigation where someone outside the state would look into John Swallow's alleged role in Jeremy Johnson's case.

The state Democratic Party now has an online petition where they are collecting signature calling for an investigation into any criminal, civil or ethical violations.

While sources close to FOX 13 tell us the FBI is investigating John Swallow, the U.S. attorney for Utah is not saying if there is a pending investigation.

In October, Jeremy Johnson met with Dee Smith, who was the Democratic candidate for attorney general last year, at a Salt Lake restaurant as part of an effort to get Swallow to drop out of the race.

Smith said by phone Monday morning that he would not comment on the meeting.