Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Questions surrounding the John Swallow controversy

Published: Sunday, Jan. 20 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Webb: It's hard to see how Utah's chief prosecutor can be effective, especially cracking down on white collar crime, when he is under this cloud. This story will continue to dribble out. We won't know if unlawful activities occurred until a federal investigation is concluded, which could take a long time. To salvage his reputation, Swallow will need to reveal every detail of everything that happened, frankly and humbly acknowledge mistakes, and ask forgiveness. He could go further, refunding all campaign donations above $10,000, refusing to accept future donations above $10,000, and promising to sever ties with individuals, businesses and industries seeking to influence him.

What mistakes and shrewd moves has Swallow made?

Pignanelli: Swallow was smart to ask for an investigation within days of the original release, for he has not committed any crime. But, Swallow has known for months that reporters possessed elements of the story. By preemptively exposing this during the holidays, he could have controlled the message and outcome. But, by remaining in the shadows the media continues to examine every detail of anyone within six degrees of Swallow. "Hunkering down" is no longer a viable tactic in 21st-century politics.

Webb: From a political perspective, Swallow was effective in preventing this matter from blowing up before the election, although then he could have blamed it on his political enemies. Calling for an investigation was a no-brainer. Assuming a scandal will blow over is always a big mistake. Remember, a U.S. president was brought down over a third-rate burglary.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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