SALT LAKE CITY — Republican state senators decided Tuesday they want to know more about the impeachment process after the controversy surrounding Attorney General John Swallow was raised during a closed caucus meeting.
“We have a constitutional duty someplace along this, if this becomes more egregious than it appears right now,” Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, said, stressing that caucus members aren't trying to prejudge Swallow, a fellow Republican.
“We feel like we would like to let the facts develop, let the investigations develop, free of any kind of political influence,” Valentine said. “I think caucus members generally are encouraged that John Swallow has asked for an independent investigation and support that process.”
Senate Budget Chairman Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said the potential of an impeachment came up amid the pre-session budget and policy discussions held at the Little America Hotel. Hillyard said he did not know the details of the impeachment process.
“This is an issue we don't deal with every day,” said Senate President-elect Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy. “Consequently, one of the action items from (Tuesday) will be to meet with our attorney staff to figure out what is our constitutional duty, our legal ramifications.”
Niederhauser said lawmakers should attempt to avoid prejudicing any investigation into the allegations that Swallow helped broker a deal for a St. George businessman trying to derail a federal probe of his Internet marketing company.
“We're lawmakers. We're not the judge and the jury, so we want to make sure that we're not getting outside what our legal duties and legal rights are,” he said.
Any investigation, Niederhauser said, should be left up to the FBI.
“It's important for us to know what the facts are, and we supported John Swallow in his calling for an investigation on himself,” the Senate leader said. “We could see the importance of that.”
Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said the majority of the caucus felt the investigative process would produce answers.
“We don't have all the facts,” Adams said. “It's pretty hard to know until we do have all the facts.”