Ex-A.G. Shurtleff told FBI about Swallow allegations last year

"I think John had some poor judgment"

Published: Monday, Feb. 11 2013 7:05 p.m. MST

In the four-page document, Rawle said he kept $50,000 as his fee and paid Swallow $23,500 out of that money for consulting work he did on a Nevada cement plant project. Swallow returned that money and asked Rawle to pay him from a different account, which he did, according to the affidavit.

"The stuff John's admitted was upsetting to me, clearly. I didn't know," Shurtleff said. "After he told me he'd been consulting on the Nevada cement project, I was, 'What? What? Why?'"

Shurtleff said Swallow didn't violate office policy but he said it wasn't a good idea.

"I think John had some poor judgment. But as I told the FBI and the U.S. attorney, he's too trusting, but there's no way he intended to bribe a senator or any other official," he said.

Swallow's judgement and ethics have come into question since Johnson's allegations became public Jan. 5. The U.S. Attorney's Office took the unusual step of acknowledging that it is investigating the accusations.

Campaign finance reports, secret recordings, court documents and interviews with associates and others showed Swallow's willingness to advise people whose dealings are in question, and put in focus the role money plays in gaining access to decision-makers.

Shurtleff came under fire during his 12 years in office for allegedly going easy on Internet marketers who contributed to his campaign fund.

"There's no factual basis for it," he said, attributing the notion to "misreported" news stories.

Johnson was one of Shurtleff's biggest backers, donating more than $200,000 to his campaign and attorney general's office initiatives. Shurtleff said he never accepted money in exchange for dropping an investigation into iWorks. The Utah Division of Consumer Protection issued the company administrative fines several years ago.

But that general perception has persisted as Shurtleff's hand-picked successor, Swallow, has become the state's top law enforcement official. Shurtleff called that "hurtful, maddening and outrageous."

Shurtleff said he told Swallow to stand firm if he believes in his heart of hearts that he did nothing wrong, illegal or unethical.

"If your conscience is OK and you remain committed to serving the public honestly and ethically, then you just gotta withstand all the garbage that's been thrown at you on stage, all the rotten tomatoes, and hang in there," Shurtleff said.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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