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Utah House committee orders John Swallow, Attorney General's office to turn over documents

Published: Saturday, Sept. 28 2013 5:16 p.m. MDT

Utah Attorney General John Swallow speaks to the media after a Republican House Caucus meeting to discuss impeachment at the Capitol in Salt Lake City Wednesday, June 19, 2013.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — A special Utah House committee investigating embattled Attorney General John Swallow issued its first two subpoenas Thursday.

Both seek written and electronic documents from Swallow individually and the attorney general's office as a whole. Investigative committee chairman Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, signed the orders giving Swallow and his office until Oct. 11 to deliver the information to the panel.

Attorney general spokesman Paul Murphy said the office would comply with the subpoena and cooperate with the investigation. Swallow's attorney, Rod Snow, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to the subpoenas, Dunnigan said the committee's investigators are interviewing witnesses and gathering documents. The panel's attorneys also met with the attorney general's office and contacted other agencies investigating Swallow.

"We are out of the organization stage and now we're going through process. It has accelerated," Dunnigan said. "We could do a quick and easy job and just pick up the stuff in the media and lay it out there and say these are the facts, but we're unwilling to do that."

Legislative fiscal analysts estimate the House investigation could cost as much as $3 million, a figure causing Swallow and some lawmakers to question whether it's wise use of taxpayer dollars.

The committee's voluminous order for information dating back to Dec. 1, 2009 could yield a staggering amount of documents, emails, text messages and other communications.

The subpoenas focus on Swallow's relationships with indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson and imprisoned businessman Marc Sessions Jenson, both of whom have accused the attorney general of influence peddling.

The committee wants Swallow to turn over everything about his association with Johnson, including anything referring to use of Johnson's boat, airplane or helicopter. Johnson claims Swallow helped arrange to bribe a U.S. senator to end a federal investigation into Johnson's online marketing company, iWorks.

It also wants to see documents related to food, lodging, entertainment or travel provided to him by anyone who was subject to an attorney general's office investigation. Jenson claims Swallow and former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff shook him down for political favors during all expenses paid trips to his Southern California villa. The attorney general's office had prosecuted Jenson prior to the trips and put him in jail after he violated terms of a plea deal.

In addition to Johnson and Jenson, the subpoena seeks Swallow communications with campaign strategist Jason Powers, self-described "fixer" Tim Lawson, businessman Rob Stahura and the late Richard Rawle, founder of the payday loan company Check City.

Swallow did consulting work for Rawle on cement plant project in Nevada. The subpoena financial information from two entities with which Swallow was affiliated, P Solutions and Swallow & Associates.

In addition, the House committee wants all documents produced for the lieutenant governor's office, state criminal prosecutors, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office in connection with their investigations of Swallow.

The DOJ earlier this month declined to file criminal charges against Swallow or Shurtleff after a months-long investigation.

Swallow earlier said he would cooperate with the House investigation but questioned the need for it in light of the DOJ decision. He said the committee seems to be looking for allegations against him.

Dunnigan said neither he nor the investigative team has any preconceived outcomes.

"In fairness to the attorney general, doesn't he want to know what the facts are? Doesn't he want that presented fairly to the Utah public instead of just tossed about in the media?" Dunnigan said.

Swallow also is the subject of other investigations.

The Davis and Salt Lake county attorneys, with help from the FBI, continue to look into a wide array of allegations against Swallow. The state elections office is investigating whether he violated campaign finance disclosure laws. He also is the subject of two Utah State Bar complaints.

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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