UEG: Swallow may not have broken the law or acted unethically

Posted at 9:55 PM, Jan 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-16 01:23:52-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- John Swallow, Utah's newly elected Attorney General, said allegations that he was involved in a bribery scandal are false.

"I am the victim of this attack, that is unsubstantiated, that is going to be investigated and as the facts come out people will learn that this is not true," said John Swallow who declared his innocence in front of television news cameras Monday night.

Swallow said all he did was introduce Jeremy Johnson and Richard Rawle.

David Irvine, an Attorney for Utahns for Ethical Government and a former Republican State Lawmaker said there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

"It raises a question, what was going on and what was the nature of that relationship and what was expected by Mr. Swallow of Mr. Johnson," Irvine said.

When it comes to the $20,000 Swallow claims he received from Rawle for consulting work in Nevada, Irvine said a decades-old state statute may protect Swallow if what the AG says is true.

"There is a statute in Utah applicable to the assistant attorney general. It specifies that assistant attorneys general who are career service employees - that's sort of a civil service - are prohibited from doing outside legal work for compensation," Irvine said.

John Swallow, who was serving as a Chief Deputy Attorney at the time. was what you call a political appointment.

"In general, probably if he was just working as an attorney for Mr. X during his time as the assistant attorney general in a non-career services capacity, I don`t see anything in the law that makes that an illegal or an unethical arrangement," Irvine said.

 The UEG says this is just another example of why Utah needs more stringent ethics laws.

"The issue really is was there an appearance of impropriety. Those perceptions color the way people view their government. They go right to the heart to the amount of trust that voters have in those who are elected to office and this is corrosive of that public trust," Irvine said.

The UEG hopes to work with Utah lawmakers on ethics reform during the upcoming legislative session, but they do not have a sponsor.