Shurtleff asked feds to investigate allegations against Swallow

Posted at 8:44 PM, Feb 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-13 00:53:14-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said he was aware of the allegations surrounding John Swallow before the election and that he asked federal authorities to investigate.

In the meantime, Governor Gary Herbert said he expects the U.S. Attorney's investigation to be made public when complete, and he is calling on the legislature to create stricter ethics laws.

Herbert said he wants to see legislation that would make it illegal for somebody who works in the AG's Office to have outside employment, which is exactly what John Swallow did as Deputy Chief Attorney for Shurtleff.

Fox 13 tracked down former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, and in a phone interview he opened up about why he went to the feds after finding out about the allegations of bribery against Swallow.

"Jeremy Johnson had come to me for whatever his personal reasons wanting Swallow to get out of the race," Shurtleff said in a telephone interview with Fox 13.

It was October, just weeks before the 2012 election. Shurtleff said that's when he learned about the allegations of bribery against Swallow from Jeremy Johnson, the Utah businessman facing federal indictment. Johnson claims Swallow helped broker a deal to keep the feds off his back.

"I talked to John Swallow about that, and I got his side of the story," Shurtleff said.

Shurtleff said he believes Swallow is innocent, but he still contacted the U.S. Attorney's Office and even the FBI.

Shurtleff said, "Clearly it was very emotional and difficult for me to do, he's my friend, confidant in the past, he was my Chief Deputy at the time, he was going to be Attorney General—but as a law enforcement official I felt like this information needed to be given to people who have jurisdiction over it."

Herbert addressed the accusations surrounding the state's top law enforcement officer on Tuesday, indicating the investigation may have reached high up in the chain, to United States Attorney General Eric Holder.

"My hope is that those doing the investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office and whoever has that responsibility today, and it may be to Attorney General Eric Holder's office now, that they need in fact let us know what they find, and that means if they found something let us know, if they found nothing, let us know," Herbert said.

Herbert is now asking the legislature to make some changes.

"I've talked about the need to have ethics legislation passed that will make it illegal for somebody who works in the Attorney General's office to have outside employment, we already do that in the Governor's office," he said.

In response to calls for Swallow's resignation, Shurtleff said, "For the Chair of the Utah Republican Party, to Utah Senators calling for impeachment, saying we need ethical reform. Based on what? What you read in the paper? Excuse me, that's not how we do things in this country."

When Fox 13 asked him whether voters had the right to know about the allegations before the election, Shurtleff said, "So they can make a decision based on innuendo, based on the allegations of a man indicted for fraud? No."

The Governor said everyone needs to wait to see what the investigation reveals before rushing to judgment.