We have no idea if Utah's new attorney general, John Swallow, should resign amid charges from a suspected swindler that he sought a $600,000 bribe to relieve Jeremy Johnson -- accused of fraudulently billing online customers of his firm iWorks -- of a federal probe. Johnson, a source that certainly must be viewed with suspicion, claims Swallow promised Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could help get Johnson off the hook. Swallow denies it; Reid denies all knowledge of it. A prosecutor should thoroughly investigate the charges.
What the scandal is revealing, however, is what a political cesspool John Swallow, and other prominent Utah pols, swim in. It seems that people such as Johnson, who quite possibly will be imprisoned one day, were able to throw cash to former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, as well as his successor, Swallow. Within a two-year period, Johnson, his businesses and family provided more than $230,000 to Shurtleff. Is it any wonder that Johnson, when he found himself in trouble, was able to get a private conversation with Swallow, the man who is now Utah's top prosecutor?
Swallow should have told Johnson to get lost, that it was not his business to provide assistance. It's likely he didn't because access to Utah's powerful is the norm for direct marketers with lots of bucks, regardless of their reputations. One particularly tawdry event is Swallow touting a deathbed declaration from the late Check City owner Richard M. Rawle that denies Rawle and Johnson tried to bribe Reid and clears Swallow of benefiting from Johnson's payments to Rawle for alleged lobbying.
Swallow claims he merely referred Johnson to Rawle, his former employer, for lobbying purposes. Any payments made to Swallow, according to Rawle, were not related to the lobbying. Rawle was in the final stages of a particularly painful bout of lymphoma when he declared the affidavit, and he died three days later.
As mentioned, this is a tawdry affair of the powerful associating themselves with those who throw money at them. It's another reason why Utah needs limits on campaign donations. It's sickening that Johnson was able to dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars to Utah's attorney general. Also, the Swallow affair begs that voters pay more attention to candidates' qualifications and accomplishments. Other than his tenure as Shurtleff's deputy, Swallow was known as a political deal maker, lobbyist and attorney for Check City, Rawle's company. Those are slim qualifications to be Utah's AG.
Nevertheless, because he was the Republican candidate and had more $1 million in his campaign coffers, he easily defeated the Democratic candidate, Weber County Attorney Dee Smith, who only had $67,000 to spend on his campaign.