SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah lawmakers are involving themselves in the controversy surrounding Attorney General John Swallow for the first time and considering impeachment of the state's top law enforcement officer.
Republican members of the Utah House of Representatives have set aside a three-hour caucus meeting Wednesday to discuss what lawmakers can do about the allegations surrounding Swallow, who has been dogged by allegations of misconduct starting shortly after he assumed office in January.
He's the subject of a federal investigation and complaints filed with the Utah State Bar and the elections office.
The lieutenant governor's office, which oversees Utah elections, is bringing on outside attorneys to help them investigate complaints against Swallow.
Swallow, a Republican, has denied any wrongdoing, and his personal attorneys have told lawmakers that any impeachment proceedings would be unjustified.
On Wednesday morning, Swallow made an impromptu appearance at a meeting of conservative lawmakers to answer detailed questions about the allegations and investigations.
"I just felt like my side of the story needed to be told," Swallow told reporters after the meeting.
"They deserve to hear my side of the story, and I want to make sure that they know that I'm a man who's trying to do the best I can in my office, and that the allegations that are out there are very biased, from very incredible sources. And they need to know that."
Swallow said he hasn't really had a chance to tell his side of the story, and he's not concerned about the meeting scheduled later Wednesday to discuss the possibility of an impeachment investigation.
"I'm not here to judge what they decide to do one way or the other," he said. "There is a very active federal investigation going on, which I've called for, that I believe will clear my name. If the Legislature feels like they need to do something on top of that, then that is their prerogative and I completely respect their prerogative."
Last week, Gov. Gary Herbert, also a Republican, told reporters that he's alarmed about the allegations surrounding the attorney general, and if he worked for Herbert, Swallow would be fired.
Meanwhile, House Democrats, which make up only 14 of the 75 members in the House, have all called for an investigation and possible impeachment of Swallow.
Two-thirds of the members of the Utah House of Representatives would have to be in favor of an impeachment session in order for that process to start. If the House later voted to impeach Swallow, the Senate would serve as judge and jury.
Impeachment is a relatively rare process that's only been started once in Utah history. In 2003, the House approved a resolution to begin an impeachment investigation of a Utah judge facing drug charges, but the judge resigned before the investigation began.
Two Republican House lawmakers have publically called on Swallow to resign, saying it would save public dollars from being spent on any potential impeachment investigation.
Swallow has repeatedly said he has no plans to step down.
The controversy around the attorney general began after indicted Utah businessman Jeremy Johnson accused him of engineering a plot to thwart a Federal Trade
Commission probe by bribing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Reid and Swallow have denied Johnson's allegations.
Johnson is facing 86 federal counts of fraud and money laundering.
The St. George businessman is one in a series of Utah businessman in trouble with regulatory agencies who has alleged Swallow and former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff offered to protect them from investigators or prosecution in exchange for money or favors.
Swallow and Shurtleff have denied any wrongdoing.