Legislative investigators have conducted 60 interviews in Swallow probe

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 8 2013 4:52 p.m. MDT

The Utah House committee investigating Johns Swallow closed its doors to the public for the first time Tuesday to talk about legal strategy in the case.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

SALT LAKE CITY — The special Utah House committee investigating embattled Attorney General John Swallow has so far issued three subpoenas and interviewed 60 witnesses.

"We have numerous additional leads to follow," lead attorney Steve Reich told the bipartisan panel Tuesday.

Reich gave the nine-member committee a brief update on the investigation before it closed the meeting for 2 ½ hours to discuss legal advice. Tuesday's meeting was the committee's third in the now 3-week-old investigation and its first behind closed doors.

Rep. Jim Dunnigan, the committee chairman, said afterward there are leads worth pursuing.

"It's like peeling a layer off of an onion, so it's methodical. It's thorough. I've determined that this would be fair. It would be very easy just to throw stuff out to the public, but we're not going to do that," the Taylorsville Republican said.

The committee's outside attorneys have billed the state $250,000 through the end of September, Dunnigan said. Lawmakers estimate the investigation to cost $3 million.

Some legislators have called for an end to what they see as a costly and unnecessary House inquiry since the U.S. Department of Justice decided not file criminal charges against Swallow.

Dunnigan said the money is well-spent and that the investigation should continue so the committee can present facts to the House and the public.

In the open meeting, Reich said attorneys and investigators have worked together to form an investigative strategy.

"It's a big and complicated process," he said.

Reich said nine investigators conducted the 60 interviews and that witnesses have been cooperative.

Investigators also have spoken with other agencies looking into accusations leveled at Swallow. But Dunnigan would not elaborate on how much information is being shared.

The committee has issued subpoenas to Swallow, the attorney general's office and the payday loan company Softwise Inc. and its manager, Todd Rawle, son of the late Richard M. Rawle.

Much of the information sought relates to indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, who claims Swallow was part of an arrangement to pay off Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to end a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Johnson's Internet sales company three years ago. Reid has denied the allegations.

The Softwise subpoena issued last Friday seeks information on Swallow's role as a consultant for Rawle on a Nevada cement plant project.

Swallow introduced Johnson to Rawle, who had a connection to Reid. Johnson paid Rawle $250,000, and Rawle used part of the money to hire lobbyists to approach the FTC on Johnson's behalf. Rawle ran the money through a firm he created, RMR Consulting.

Rawle said he paid lobbyists with part of the money and took $50,000 for his fee, part of which he used to pay "miscellaneous" expenses. One of those bills was for consulting work Swallow did on the cement plant project.

Swallow later returned the check, which came from the RMR account, and asked that it come from another account. Rawle then paid him $23,500 from another account.

Swallow and the attorney general's office have until Friday to give the committee emails, financial records and other documents, according to the subpoena. The deadline on the Softwise subpoena is Oct. 25.

Both Swallow and his office have said they would cooperate with the House investigation. Dunnigan said he expects they will turn over the subpoenaed documents.

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS