SALT LAKE CITY -- The House investigation into alleged wrongdoing by Attorney John Swallow is ready to move forward following a special legislative session in which probe guidelines and rules were outlined.
Members of the House and Senate approved three measures establishing the framework for the special investigative committee Wednesday at the same time House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, announced the makeup of the nine-person investigative group.
The committee will consist of five Republicans, including Rep. Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, and Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, and four Democrats.
Rep. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara, will chair the committee. He is a former president of the Utah State Bar Association and one of two attorneys on the committee.
Lockhart said, to her, the committee wasn't a partisan issue.
"This was making sure the House of Representatives can have confidence in the product of the committee. When we are done, we want people to have confidence in the process and the work."
House Minority Leader Jen Seelig, D-Salt Lake City, is one of four Democrats named to the committee. She said the political makeup will not be a problem, as there is no political agenda attached to the investigation of Swallow, other than finding the facts.
Approved legislation involving the probe included:
* House Bill 1001, sponsored by Dee, which sets rules for instances in which testimony in front of the committee may be taken in closed session.
* HB 1002, allowing lawyers without a Utah license to potentially be involved in the case. Dee said a request for proposal for firms to represent the committee will include firms from both inside and outside the state.
* HB 1003, amending the state's private investigator regulation action to allow a potential investigator in the case to come from out of state.
Several Democrats raised concerns about the openness of any probe of Swallow, while GOP lawmakers bemoaned the lack of parameters on certain areas of the investigation.
Three House Republicans proposed amendments to Dee's bill, asking for better accounting of money being spent, limiting when immunity might be offered and asking that any Open Meeting Law adjustments expire when the group is disbanded.
The amendments failed.
Dee mused at one point that he was chosen to run the legislation because he lost a game of rock, paper, scissors. Still, he said, the guidelines and rules for the probe of Swallow had been reviewed carefully, cautiously and with input from officials from other states who have gone through similar processes.
"We've crafted as best we could a very good piece of legislation. Will we have problems in the future and look at what we've done today? Undoubtedly. This is where we're at," Dee said.
Swallow is the subject of a federal investigation after indicted Utah businessman Jeremy Johnson accused him of arranging to derail a Federal Trade Commission probe by bribing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
He is also the target of complaints filed with the Utah State Bar Association. One complaint alleges Swallow violated attorney-client privilege during conversations with a business owner cited for breaking telemarketing laws.
The attorney general has denied any wrongdoing and has said he is eager to tell his side of the story.
Six separate investigative groups, including the Davis County Attorney's Office, are conducting probes into allegations against Swallow.
In the meantime, the Utah Attorney General's Office announced Wednesday that it will remove itself from prosecution of the criminal case against Marc Sessions Jenson.
Jenson and his co-defendant, Stephen R. Jenson, are charged with communications fraud and money laundering in conjunction with the failed Beaver County business venture known as the Mount Holly Club.
Jenson has filed a battery of motions and other allegations levied against many members of the Attorney General's Office, including former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Swallow.
"While there is no legal or factual basis to disqualify the office, the state acknowledges that the defendant's allegations have disrupted these proceedings and created at least the appearance of impropriety which cannot be overcome through other means. It is in the interest of justice for this office to recuse itself from further prosecution and return the proper focus of the case to the conduct of the Defendants," said the A.G.'s motion, which asked the court to permit the withdrawal.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.