Committee wants to reach out to other groups investigating Swallow allegations

Aug 7 2013 - 11:44pm

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CHRIS DETRICK/The Associated Press
Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, speaks during a special House committee investigating Attorney General John Swallow at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday in Salt Lake City. Swallow, a Republican, has been dogged by allegations of misconduct since he took office in January, including claims that he plotted to bribe U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid.
CHRIS DETRICK/The Associated Press
Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, speaks during a special House committee investigating Attorney General John Swallow at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday in Salt Lake City. Swallow, a Republican, has been dogged by allegations of misconduct since he took office in January, including claims that he plotted to bribe U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

SALT LAKE CITY -- The chairman of a legislative committee probing allegations against Attorney General John Swallow said he hopes to reach out to other groups investigating Swallow as one of the first formal steps taken by the group.

Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, said one of the first orders of business once special counsel is hired will be to reach out to other groups investigating charges raised against the beleaguered official. That includes Davis County District Attorney Troy Rawlings and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sam Gill. Both are investigating whether Swallow and former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff broke any state laws.

Six separate investigations are going on involving Swallow and allegations raised against him, which range from extortion and bribery to potential violations of state election law.

Rawlings has not commented publicly on the status of the probe he's working on.

Dunnigan and the nine-member panel held their first meeting this week to prepare for what is expected to follow. The group's next meeting is not expected for another three weeks, and it could be November or December before witnesses are actually called to testify before the group, said John Fellows, general counsel to the Legislature.

The first meeting was characterized as table-setting by Dunnigan and focused on the possibility that due process in the fact-finding probe will be lengthy and potentially costly. Cost estimates for the investigation have reached as much as $3 million and could go higher, should extenuating circumstances occur during the process.

State officials are expected to announce Friday who has been selected as special counsel for the investigation. Ten out-of-state firms are finalists and were interviewed this week by a panel of five, which includes Dunnigan; Rep. Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace; Rep. Jen Seelig, D-Salt Lake; Legislative General Counsel John Fellows; and Joe Pyrah, chief deputy of the House. Pyrah is a former editor of the Standard-Examiner.

The firms include Chicago-based Sidley Austin LLP, which is the former employer of Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and his father, Rex Lee, who was president of Brigham Young University and also served as U.S. solicitor general.

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