Pressure grows on AG Swallow as allegations fly

Published: Thursday, May 9 2013 7:35 p.m. MDT

"I was responsible for the investigation, conviction and sentencing of Jenson," he told the Tribune. "He has sworn revenge. I suggest you consider carefully whether to believe a desperate, convicted fraudster."

Jenson said he's talking publicly now because he has "insightful and important" things to say about how Shurtleff and Swallow conduct business. He also said the federal agents indicated the investigation goes deeper than the two Republicans but would not elaborate.

Jenson's attorney confirmed his client has met with the FBI. Redd said the FBI didn't promise Jenson anything in return for the information he provided. But "we're confident when all this comes out it will be most helpful to Marc."

A cloud has hung over Swallow since he took office in early January, starting with his relationship with indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, who claims Swallow helped broker a deal in an attempt to derail a federal investigation into his Internet marketing firm.

The Department of Justice Public Integrity Section is investigating Swallow's interaction with Johnson along with allegations that he promised special consideration to three telemarketers if they would contribute to Shurtleff's re-election campaign.

Swallow also is the subject of two professional misconduct complaints filed with the Utah State Bar and elections violations complaint under review in the lieutenant governor's office.

State Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis said it's time for the state to take action. Both the executive and legislative branches have "completely abdicated their responsibility" to look into the allegations against Swallow, he said Thursday.

"As more and more serious allegations are brought to light against the attorney general and, increasingly, whispers of investigations against Utah's constitutional officeholders grow louder, it is imperative that our one-party state to begin an independent investigation into these alleged violations of state law by our highest state officials," Dabakis said.

Republicans have been largely silent on the controversies swirling around Swallow, but one state lawmaker said it's time to take political campaigning out of the attorney general's office and make it an appointed position.

"I think, like everyone else, it doesn't look good," Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said of the latest accusations against Swallow. "I'm scratching my head wondering how we got to where we are."

Weiler will initiate a discussion in the Utah Legislature next week on whether the attorney general should be appointed, which would take a voter-approved constitutional amendment. He conceded that would be a tough sell with voters.

But, he said, that could change with "high profile story that would make people step back and say, 'You know what? Maybe it's not the best policy for us to ask the chief law enforcement officer in the state to run around and raise over a million dollars. Who's motivated to donate to him?'"

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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