Allegations against AG prompt Utah GOP to look at impeachment

Posted at 9:25 PM, Jan 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-17 01:01:02-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah Attorney General John Swallow can't look to his fellow Republicans in the State Senate if he's seeking comfort as he faces allegations of financial improprieties.

Republican state senators took time in their pre-legislative session caucus meeting on Tuesday to learn how the state constitution envisions an impeachment.

"We take the situation surrounding our attorney general very seriously," said Senator John Valentine of Orem.

As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Valentine would be likely to play a prominent role if the Senate were to conduct an impeachment trial.

But Valentine says he and his fellow senators don't expect an impeachment to happen. He says they want federal investigators to work through questions surrounding Swallow's dealings with Jeremy Johnson, an internet entrepreneur from St. George charged with bilking customers out of millions of dollars, and Richard Rawle, the recently deceased founder of Check City.

Valentine says an investigation is more likely to either exonerate Swallow, or to find enough evidence that Swallow would choose to resign.

James Humprheys, political consultant and president of Utah's Log Cabin Republicans, says Swallow has as much job security as an elected official can have.

"There's no recall provision in the state constitution. The governor can ask for his resignation, but as an elected official he can't be fired," Humphreys said.

Humphreys says an ongoing FBI investigation will likely take time, but it's the federal government most likely to create a situation where Swallow leaves office.

Otherwise, Humphreys says, "John is pretty safe where he's at."

Read more about the Johnson-Swallow allegations.