Search warrants for Swallow phone, email records unsealed

Posted at 1:12 PM, Jan 02, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- A judge has unsealed search warrants served for phone and email records of former Utah Attorney General John Swallow and some of his associates.

The seven search warrants, unsealed Thursday, revealed that investigators were looking at the crimes of obstruction of justice, witness tampering, bribery, evidence tampering, communications fraud and electronic harassment in the scandals surrounding Swallow.

Warrants were served on Google and Apple for some of Swallow's phone and email records. Other warrants were served on the Provo home of Tim Lawson, a self-described "political fixer" who claims to have been friends with both former attorneys general Mark Shurtleff and Swallow. Lawson is the first to be charged in connection with a joint criminal investigation of the scandal, being conducted by the Salt Lake and Davis county attorneys.

Another warrant was served on Guidant Strategies in Park City, which was involved in campaign fundraising for Swallow in 2012.

Affidavits filed with the search warrants revealed recorded conversations, accusations of bribes and confidential sources detailing how campaign money was used. Investigators rely upon a confidential source who claimed that political action committees and a non-profit were created to hide campaign contributions.

"The CS told your affiant that funds were taken from PRGEA and sent to the other PACs to avoid disclosing who the donors were," investigators wrote in the affidavit.

The confidential source also claimed Swallow's campaign consultant, Jason Powers, "participated in making false statements and agreeing to make false statements to the Internal Revenue Service including sending falsified documents because the actual expenditures of PRGEA did not meet the qualifications of the 501 (c) entity," investigators wrote.

The source also alleged that former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff used campaign contributions to pay off more than $30,000 in personal credit card debt.

The affidavits also reveal behind-the-scenes exchanges between members of Swallow's campaign team, referring to Republican Party delegates in less-than-flattering terms. One email thread referred to the practice of offering free food to delegates as "Feedings."

"Yesterday we had 80 delegates at our feedings. Looking like we'll beat it today!" one email in the thread reads, according to the affidavit.

"Feedings? Is this like a delegates are deer and John is a salt lick kind of thing?" Greg Powers wrote.

"I was thinking more goats and a tin can. Not sure if that analogy actually happens outside of cartoons though," Seth Crossley replied, the affidavit said.

Later in the thread, the affidavit claims campaign workers describe a delegate as "the infamous cross dresser."

"I'm still waiting for a picture of the tranny!" Renae Cowley wrote in the email thread.

"I offered a picture of that thing while it was next to me! You declined," Seth Crossley replied, the affidavit said.

"No I didn't, I just said not an 'up the skirt' shot," Cowley replied, the affidavit said.

Swallow resigned last month, maintaining his innocence of wrongdoing in the face of mounting investigations. Swallow's attorney, Rod Snow, did not return a message seeking comment on Thursday.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told FOX 13 the warrants were part of "an ongoing investigation" that was not yet completed.

"I think it's safe to say we are certainly not done," Gill said. "I would say we are midway through. There are a whole other host of partners and collaborators in this process. We are trying to gather information from the Lt. Governor's investigation, the House investigation, a plethora of other work."

Gill would not rule out other charges being leveled against people connected to Swallow.

"I think the goal here is to charge all the appropriate parties, when and if that rises to that level," he said.