Utah Attorney General John Swallow’s last day

Posted at 5:02 PM, Dec 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-02 23:37:41-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Attorney General John Swallow officially ends his time in office, resigning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

Swallow declined FOX 13's request for an interview on Monday, but released a statement:

"I want to thank the people of Utah for allowing me to serve these past four years with the Attorney General's Office. I am proud of the work being done by our attorneys, investigators and staff members and I am confident they will continue to fight to protect our children, our state and our resources."

When he leaves office, Swallow will be entitled to a $12,000 a year pension when he turns 65 for his years of service in the attorney general's office, as well as health coverage until the end of the month.

If he had resigned on Nov. 30, he likely would not have gotten either. Utah Attorney General's spokesman Paul Murphy noted that the situation with health coverage is similar to private sector employment.

Swallow told KSL Radio's "Doug Wright Show" that the timing was coincidental: he had made a decision to resign, thought about it for a few days, then went on vacation and came back on Dec. 2 -- his last day in office.

"We hadn't given serious consideration to resigning until four days before I resigned," he said on the radio talk show. "So if you're asking me if in July I was hoping I could hang on until Dec. 1, the answer is no."

MaryAnn Martindale, the director of the progressive think-tank Alliance for a Better Utah, questioned the attorney general's timing.

"There's absolutely nothing coincidental about the timing," she told FOX 13. "He knew exactly when that date was, when that clock was going to tick past 11:59 and he'd get that pension. The benefits? I think that's just a bonus."

Martindale's group filed an election complaint against Swallow, prompting an investigation by the Lt. Governor's office. That investigation accused the attorney general of breaking election law, something Swallow has denied.

With Swallow's resignation, Lt. Governor Spencer Cox said there was no need to go to court to invalidate the election. Martindale told FOX 13 her group could take it to court -- but they don't have the money.

"We're going to talk about it with our legal experts, the ones that helped us with the original complaint and make a decision," she said. "I'm cautious, it's probably not going to be something we're going to undertake. There's a lot of money, a lot of time involved with that. There's a lot of capacity and we don't have the money."

Martindale said Alliance for a Better Utah would be investigating a $3,000 bonus given to Swallow when he first took office last year. State financial records obtained by FOX 13 revealed that in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the attorney general received $56,157 in salary; $23,566 in benefits; and a $3,000 "incentive award."

The award was a bonus given by outgoing Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to Swallow when he was a deputy attorney general in December 2012, the office said. The Utah Division of Administrative Services said it, like other financial documents, is posted June 30, 2013. However, Murphy said it was given in Swallow's first paycheck in January.

If he received the bonus as attorney general, it could be illegal, Martindale said. Alliance for a Better Utah planned to file public records request for detailed information on the bonus.

"It's curious, the timing of it," Martindale said.

Brian Tarbet, the former general in the Utah National Guard, will be interim Utah Attorney General. The Utah Republican Party's central committee will meet on Dec. 14 to select a replacement. Declared candidates include: Bret Rawson, Sean Reyes, Brent Ward, Michael Wilkins, and Scott Burns.