SALT LAKE CITY -- Members of the House Republican caucus will consider options against embattled Attorney General John Swallow, including impeachment, when they meet in June.
House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, confirmed House leadership has been in contact with GOP representatives about options on Swallow. The caucus is set for June 19.
Dee said options could range from impeachment, to creation of a special investigative committee, or public statements calling for Swallow to step aside. He said he has no confidence the federal government will finish its investigation into allegations against Swallow before the House addresses the issue.
"There's no upside to this," Dee said. He did promise the caucus would be open and any key discussion of the Swallow discussion would be held in an open setting.
Under state law, the House has the investigative responsibility, but Dee said the judge and jury in any potential case would fall to the Senate.
A spokesman for the attorney general's office said Swallow has no plans to resign.
"Attorney General Swallow has not violated any laws and has no plans to resign or take a leave of absence based on a trial of innuendo and speculation in the media," spokesman Paul Murphy said.
Swallow has been linked to federally indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson, who claims Swallow set up a deal in 2010 for Johnson to pay money to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to potentially quash a federal investigation.
Since that allegation, new allegations have followed. Swallow also faces accusations that he did not properly disclose contributions during his 2012 campaign.
House members have been unsettled by some of the recent allegations.
Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, sent out instructions to state representatives before Memorial Day on how the impeachment process would work and other options.
Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, thinks Swallow should resign and said he is ready, if pushed, to vote to initiate impeachment proceedings.
Despite Swallow's problems, not all lawmakers are ready to initiate any action against him.
Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, made it clear in a conversation with the Standard-Examiner earlier this week that he has not reached a conclusion on the matter, and Rep. Richard Greenwood, R-Roy, said he is still behind the attorney general, until evidence proves otherwise.
"I don't have enough evidence not to support him," Greenwood said.
He cited the importance of Ronald Reagan's old adage of trust but verify. He said until allegations against the attorney general are verified, he will support him and let investigations run their course.
Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton, said he can't understand why federal investigators are moving so slowly on the Swallow matters and he believes there are better ways to move forward than to initiate impeachment.
"It would be messy and costly and harmful to all areas of representative government. I'm quite certain that the matter will resolve itself before that would ever occur with a resignation," he said.
In the meantime, state Democratic leaders called for Swallow discussions to be held in the open, not in a caucus, which could be potentially closed to the public and media.
"It is absolutely inappropriate to even propose carrying out this business in a closed GOP caucus meeting. This contempt-for-the-public approach exemplifies the arrogance and good-old-boy network that got us into this mess in the first place, and yet, it appears no lessons have been learned by Utah's GOP," said Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City.
Dabakis, who heads the state Democratic Party, said the public will be outraged if the GOP inquiry about Swallow is not held in the open.