Concerns over Swallow's dealings should have been shared with voters, state leaders say

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 12 2013 7:00 p.m. MST

Republicans' lack of "moral fiber" to stand up and explain what they knew to voters "shows the serious problems of having a one-party state where somebody makes a decision and everybody falls in line," Dabakis said.

For Republicans to now call for ethics reform is disingenuous, he said. Both the governor and legislative leaders have expressed support for creating an ethics panel to investigate allegations against the state's elected executive officials.

"They had the opportunity to put this information before the voters and they chose not to, and that's something they're going to have to live with," Dabakis said.

Had that happened, he said, there's no doubt the "nonpolitical, career prosecutor, bright Dee Smith would be the attorney general and we wouldn't be having these awkward, embarrassing discussions."

Senate President Wayne Neiderhauser said he's not sure what the appropriate protocol would have been for Shurtleff.

"Would it have affected the election? Possibly," the Sandy Republican said.

University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank said Shurtleff faced a difficult judgment call.

"On the one hand, it would seem to be relevant in an election and it would be information voters would want to know about," Burbank said. "On the other hand, it was only a suspicion at the time."

In the end, Burbank said, Shurtleff had little choice.

"There's the possibility of a worst-case scenario where you say something publicly and there's an investigation and it turns out there's nothing wrong, but Swallow loses the election," Burbank said. "You ruin somebody's political career when there wasn't evidence to support it."

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com, lisa@desnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy, dnewspolitics

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