SALT LAKE CITY -- The chairman of the legislative committee conducting an investigation into allegations against Attorney General John Swallow says the dismissal of federal charges and the decision of the Utah State Bar not to pursue a charge against the embattled AG will have no bearing on the House probe.
Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, said his committee will continue to aggressively pursue its fact-finding mission and cooperate with other investigative bodies even as they chase those details.
In a Wednesday caucus of the Republican members of the Utah House, Dunnigan reported on the committee's progress and also fielded a few questions about its objectives. He said they have reached out to other agencies looking into allegations against Swallow, but said the objective remains the same.
"Our responsibility is to determine what the facts are and give a report to you," Dunnigan told House Republicans. He said the federal investigation recently dismissed was not pursuing the same information the committee is pursuing. "I'm not sure it weighed much on our charge," Dunnigan said.
A number of representatives have expressed concerns about the potential costs of the investigation and how the committee will know it has reached an end.
The Taylorsville Republican said the committee has been very conscious of costs in moving ahead. He said to date there has been $250,000 spent on counsel for August and September, but said he hasn't seen any bills for the costs of the special investigators hired by the committee.
"We're being sensitive as we are using taxpayer dollars," Dunnigan said. Estimates have put up to a $3 million price tag on the investigation. Dunnigan said the committee has hired local investigators in an effort to avoid paying higher prices for all of the detail work of the fact-finding mission.
"I hope you'll have some patience. It's taking time and costing money," he told fellow lawmakers.
Pressed by Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, on how he would know when the committee had reached the end of the investigation, Dunnigan said, "I'm not sure how to answer it. We can see we're not there yet."
Rep. Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, is one of nine members on the committee and he renewed his confidence the committee is doing the right thing, the right way.
"I'm totally confident in this chair and what is happening in this committee," Dee said.
Under state law, the House plays an investigative role in any potential impeachment process, while the Senate would then be asked to act on any findings. The House probe, while fact-finding in nature, could potentially uncover details allowing lawmakers to initiate the impeachment process.
Besides the House investigation, Swallow is also the subject of one complaint still pending with the Utah State Bar. The Davis County and Salt Lake County attorney's offices are also investigating charges against the attorney general.