Lt. Governor: No legal action necessary on Swallow

Posted at 10:10 AM, Nov 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-27 13:46:03-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox announced Wednesday his office will not go to court to invalidate the election of Utah Attorney General John Swallow.

Cox said Swallow's resignation resolved the issue, saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars in ongoing costs.

Swallow resigned from office, insisting that he is innocent, but saying he could not continue in the face of further investigations. The House of Representatives has a special committee investigating him; the Salt Lake and Davis County attorneys are also conducting a probe.

Cox said he would forward his report, and make his special counsel available, to the prosecutors conducting their investigation.

The Lt. Governor's Office hired outside counsel to investigate a complaint by the progressive think tank Alliance for a Better Utah that alleged violations of Utah election law. The investigation accused the attorney general of violating election law by failing to disclose business interests and not reporting money given to him.

"There is very little reason to believe that a special election could occur before November of next year, which just happens to be when the election will occur to fill the vacancy," Cox said. "It's also important to note that a statewide [...] special election would cost the taxpayers approximately $3 million. If we had to have a special primary election as well, that would be an additional $3 million."

On Tuesday, theUtah Democratic Party demanded the Lt. Governor ask a judge to invalidate the election. They argue that Swallow was elected under fraudulent circumstances, so a special election should be called to replace him as soon as possible.

The Democrats changed there stance after a potential frontrunner for the office pulled out and issued a challenge to the Governor.

State Senator John Valentine called on the governor to appoint a respected member of the legal community who would only hold the office through the November general election. The idea: to clean up the office with no worries about fundraising and courting votes.

Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis, also a state senator, said, "What we're talking about is finding a person of great integrity that won't run for reelection."

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