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Attorney General Swallow files response to alleged election violations

Published: Tuesday, April 9 2013 10:00 p.m. MDT

Utah Attorney General John Swallow speaks out Jan. 14, 2013 in his office at the state Capitol about allegations that he was involved in improper deals.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General John Swallow filed a response with the lieutenant governor's office Tuesday to allegations that he violated state election laws.

Swallow did not make the document public but according to his office left that decision to the lieutenant governor's office, which oversees state elections.

Mark Thomas, chief deputy lieutenant governor and state elections director, said his office would review the response to determine whether it's a public record. He said if it doesn't hinder a review or investigation of the case, it would be released. If the office determines it could impact the investigation, it would not released, at least not immediately, he said.

The Deseret News submitted a request to the elections office for the response under the state's Government Records Access and Management Act.

The Alliance for a Better Utah filed an 18-page petition last month accusing Swallow of filing misleading or false campaign declaration and disclosure forms regarding his personal business interests; conducting campaign activities from his state office during and after business hours; and putting campaign funds to personal use.

In an earlier statement, Swallow said he has reported everything that is required under state law. His campaign adviser Jason Powers has called the complaint inaccurate and without merit.

Salt Lake attorney David Irvine, who is among those filing the complaint, said he hasn't heard anything from the elections office and was unaware Swallow's lawyers were filing a written response.

"That's also news to me, but that's appropriate," he said.

Irvine earlier said it shouldn't take the state long to determine whether Swallow's financial disclosure forms are accurate and complete.

Thomas said his office will review Swallow's response and the petition to determine whether to pursue a formal investigation.

State lawmakers rushed to change a law on the last day of the legislative session a month ago that required alleged election code violations to be referred to the attorney general for investigation. That would have allowed Swallow to investigate himself.

The law now directs the lieutenant governor to appoint special counsel to investigate elections complaints when the allegations involve the attorney general. The law was retroactive so it could be applied to Swallow's case.

The alleged election violations came as the FBI and Department of Justice look into allegations that Swallow, a Republican, made campaign promises in exchange for donations. It also is investigating Swallow's relationship with indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson.

E-mail: romboy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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