State investigation into John Swallow hits roadblock

Posted at 4:01 PM, Oct 31, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-01 00:24:57-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Electronic documents have gone missing, and the state's investigation into Utah Attorney General John Swallow has hit a road block.

The top law enforcement officer came under heavy fire after his inauguration in January, when allegations of bribery surfaced. Since then, he's faced more than half a dozen investigations.

Rep Jim Dunnigan, R-District 39, said investigators are trying their hardest to get back those missing documents, but they've been deleted.

"It appears that there are electronic records, emails that are missing from certain people and certain time periods," he said.

Dunnigan, who is the chairman of the investigative committee, wouldn't say much about what emails were requested, except that they were requested from the Attorney General's Office. Somehow, those files no longer exist.

"We're trying to determine what happened to the emails and can they be reconstructed," Dunnigan said.

Information technology experts have been trying to recover the missing information for weeks. Maryann Martindale with the Alliance for Better Utah said the loss could have been avoided.

"It's frustrating," she said.

Officials with Alliance for Better Utah said the organization sent a letter to the AG's office and the Governor suggesting a litigation-hold on documents nine months ago, when the allegations against John Swallow first surfaced.

Martindale said: "It was just a cautionary thing saying, ‘Look, don't delete any files, don't delete emails, don't delete anything. You may have something in place that determines when you normally delete materials.'"

Martindale said neither office responded.

Now the public may never know what was in those files.

"It could be anything, it could be nothing: That's part of the problem when you delete the files, there's nothing left," Martindale said.

"I don't know what happened to them," Dunnigan said.

The state's probe will continue, however, with or without the documents.

"This is not a 30-minute TV episode where a problem is presented and it's wrapped up by the end," Dunnigan said. "And part of the reason it is not is because we want to be fair and thorough, and also as we go through this process we need to determine: Are there any changes to Utah law regarding campaigns and campaign financing that need to be made?"

The AG's office had no comment except to say it is fully cooperating with the investigation.