Senate Democrats demand legislative investigation into Swallow allegations

Posted at 9:10 PM, Jun 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-10 23:10:55-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Senate Democrats said the investigation into the allegations against Utah's Attorney General John Swallow should be public.

They're demanding the legislature look into the accusations surrounding John Swallow, a week after House Democrats asked for the same.

In an interview with Fox 13, House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart, R-District 64, said not only are members open to the idea, the legislature wants to know what the process of impeachment would involve.

Lockhart said the House is meeting next week to talk about impeachment, and while it doesn't mean they are necessarily considering it, she said her constituents are certainly asking questions. With so much public interest, Senate Democrats said the state shouldn't waste any time waiting for the FBI to finish its investigation into John Swallow.

Also, the outcome of the federal probe may not matter to lawmakers like Lockhart.

"This is the single subject that we will be talking about in our caucus,” she said. “We're not afraid of this subject. Impeachment, what is impeachment? What is the definition? How has it been used in the past?"

The questions have been sparked by the controversy Swallow was embroiled in not long after he was elected to be the state’s Attorney General.

During a news conference, Gene Davis, the Minority Leader of the Senate, said, "The past several months a number of allegations of wrongdoing have been made against Utah's Attorney General John Swallow."

The allegations include some from Jeremy Johnson, a St. George businessman facing federal fraud charges who claims Swallow helped set up a bribe with top federal lawmakers. Mark Jensen, who is serving prison time for defrauding investors out of millions of dollars, said Swallow took favors from him.

Swallow is now being investigated by The Department of Justice. There have also been calls for his resignation, and now Senate Democrats are demanding answers too.

"I hope what comes out of this process is an open, fair, under oath, subpoena public airing of whatever happened," said Senator Jim Dabakis who is also the State's Democratic Party chairman.

Some Senate Democrats want a legislative committee to investigate the allegations, and Davis stressed, "This is not, and I want to emphasize, this is not about impeachment.

However, impeachment may be on the table for the House.

"We`re not considering, but our constituents are talking about it, the minority party is talking about it, so we have to look at whether or not this is something we should consider moving forward with," Lockhart said.

Even if Swallow walks away from the federal investigation an innocent man, Lockhart said the question they will face is: has the public's trust eroded?

"It doesn't necessarily matter what the outcome of the federal investigation is, remember impeachment is a political thing not a criminal thing, and they are separate and distinct,” Lockhart said.

The legislature's management committee, which meets next Tuesday, may decide whether a committee made up of lawmakers should investigate the allegations against Swallow, but it's unlikely they will make a decision until the House Caucus meets the next day.