Utah Senate Democrat criticizes Swallow investigation

Posted at 3:47 PM, May 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-14 20:21:28-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Allegations against Utah Attorney General John Swallow are mounting, and one Democratic senator says Utah lawmakers can no longer sit back and do nothing.

Swallow is accused of bribery, violating campaign finance laws and taking favors from a man convicted of fraud.

Senator Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, said state officials are relying too heavily on the federal investigation, and he said there should be public hearings conducted by local officials.

"There hasn't been one Utah hearing," he said. "There hasn't been one place where the public can go. There hasn't been one opportunity to hear the accusations. There hasn't been a moment where the Attorney General has sat down under oath by subpoena and answered questions."

Dabakis said such an investigation could very well clear Swallow, and he said the allegations against Swallow give Utah lawmakers reason to look at broader reforms.

He said: “What we need is legislative hearings that aren't looking only at John Swallow, but the broader issues about, should we be changing our laws? Should we be changing our ethical standards?”

House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart, R-District 64, said impeachment of Swallow may be a possibility. Dabakis said he has yet to hear from House or Senate leadership if this is the direction they’re heading.

Swallow has told Fox 13 he is confident he will be exonerated. He addressed the most recent claims made by a convicted fraudster, who said Swallow and former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff took favors from him.

“If the allegations were true, they'd be very serious,” Swallow said. “But they're not true, and that's the problem with the coverage we've had so far. That's why I called for an investigation when this first broke, and I fully expect when things are done I will be completely exonerated.”

The Lt. Governor’s Office will hire special counsel to investigate whether or not Swallow broke campaign finance laws.