SALT LAKE CITY -- State Sen. Howard Stephenson has criticized the Utah House over its approval of an investigation into Attorney General John Swallow, calling the action rushed and ill-conceived.
The Draper Republican, in comments made Saturday on his weekly radio show, said he's "embarrassed" and baffled by the House's decision to move forward with the probe.
The Utah House voted 69-3 Wednesday to look into Swallow's conduct after he joined the Attorney General's Office in 2009.
Many of the allegations against Swallow, including that he engineered a plot to derail a federal investigation of indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson's company by bribing U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, were purported to have occurred before he became attorney general. Swallow, a Republican, and Reid have both denied the allegation.
On his show, Stephenson also criticized the House for calling its special session to approve creation of an investigatory committee last week. He said he was troubled by the timing and apparent rush to action.
"I can't understand the urgency," Stephenson said.
On the same program, Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, defended his vote against the investigation, saying it goes beyond the proper and legal scope of such an inquiry.
Swallow's attorneys have said case law and the Utah Constitution make it clear that the House can only consider matters that have transpired since Swallow was sworn in as attorney general on Jan. 7.
Senate President Wayne Neiderhauser, R-Sandy, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He has urged senators not to comment publicly on Swallow because of the potential for them to be impaneled as jurors should the House approve articles of impeachment.
House Majority Leader Brad Dee declined to comment on Stephenson's remarks. He said it was far too early to speculate whether the House investigation will result in impeachment proceedings.
But Dee added: "If I were a senator right now I would be keeping my mouth shut."