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Lockhart replaces Swallow committee head to avoid conflict

Published: Thursday, July 25 2013 9:08 p.m. MDT

An evaluation committee, which may include state legislators, will whittle the field to a list of finalists that will be announced next Wednesday. It intends to interview the first week of August and award a contract Aug. 9. The House investigation is estimated to cost as much as $3 million.

The firm would take on a long list of duties, including developing investigative and litigation strategy, preparing subpoenas and representing the committee and the House in court if necessary.

In a letter to prospective bidders, legislative general counsel John Fellows said the lawyers selected would be able to use their skills to help the House's "unprecedented historical inquiry." The lawyers should have "good political instincts" and be able to work "diplomatically" with legislators, the letter says.

After initially giving the committee broad latitude to look into Swallow dating back to his admission to the state bar in 1992, lawmakers limited the scope to his time as chief deputy attorney general, a candidate for attorney general and as attorney general. The committee could by majority vote, however, probe allegations of misconduct outside those periods if they pertain to his fitness to serve as attorney general.

GOP House leaders have described the investigative committee as a fact-finding body. It will issue a report but not make recommendations about impeachment proceedings.

In the letter, Fellows wrote that the House is not seeking a predetermined result. It believes that gathering evidence and receiving testimony under oath will provide the House and the public with facts they need to determine whether or how to proceed in the Swallow matter.

Earlier this week, the state elections office hired the Phoenix-based law firm Snell & Wilmer to look into whether Swallow violated Utah campaign finance disclosure laws in a separate investigation. The firm has attorneys throughout the West, including 50 in Salt Lake City.

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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