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Utah House panel subpoenas Jeremy Johnson in Attorney General John Swallow investigation

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 12 2013 3:10 p.m. MST

Federally-indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson walks from the Federal Courthouse following a hearing Tuesday, March 12, 2013, in Salt Lake City.

Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

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SALT LAKE CITY — State lawmakers want information from the man who touched off the political firestorm that led to their investigation of embattled Attorney General John Swallow.

The Utah House special investigative committee issued a subpoena Tuesday to indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, whose allegations against the attorney general in January spawned inquiries on several fronts.

The committee also served a subpoenas on Tim Lawson, a self-described "fixer" and political consultant, and Tosh Inc., a Provo-based payday loan company doing business as Check City. All three demand a response by Nov. 25.

Broad in scope, the Johnson subpoena seeks any documents related to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to the names and addresses of pilots who flew Johnson's airplanes and helicopters.

Investigators also want to know about Swallow's use of or requests to use Johnson's houseboat and aircraft.

Swallow became acquainted with the onetime multimillionaire Johnson while working as Shurtleff's lead campaign fundraiser before he joined the attorney general's office as chief deputy in December 2009. Though Johnson donated heavily to Shurtleff, he did not give to Swallow's 2012 campaign.

But the subpoena demands documents related to any reimbursements Johnson made to others who contributed.

Johnson claims Swallow helped broker a deal in 2010 that would pay off Reid to thwart a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Johnson's Internet marketing company, iWorks. Reid has disavowed any knowledge of Johnson's company.

Swallow has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and called Johnson's story a "fabrication." He said he only introduced Johnson to the late Richard M. Rawle, his former boss and founder of the payday loan firm Check City, who had experience with federal lobbyists.

Johnson and his iWorks associate Scott Leavitt paid Rawle $250,000. Swallow said he told Johnson the lobbyists would be expensive but that he was not involved in any negotiation for the cost.

Rawle, who set up firm called RMR Consulting, hired lobbyists to work on Johnson's behalf, but the FTC filed a civil complaint against Johnson before they made much progress. Johnson then leaned on Swallow to get the money back.

Rawle also paid Swallow $23,500 for consulting work he did on a Nevada cement plant project out of the RMR account. Swallow returned the payment and asked it be paid from a different account.

Federal prosecutors also filed an 86-count criminal indictment against Johnson for allegedly bilking nearly $300 million from online customers.

Ron Yengich, Johnson's court-appointed attorney in the criminal case, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. Johnson did not respond to an email.

The Lawson subpoena orders him to turn over all documents relating to Swallow's election campaign and fundraising activities. It also demands Lawson, a longtime friend of Shurtleff, provide information regarding imprisoned businessman Marc Sessions Jenson. Jenson says he hired Lawson to help him resolve his legal troubles with the attorney general's office.

The subpoena served on Tosh Inc. seeks documents and correspondence relating to Swallow, Reid and the federal lobbyists. It also orders the company to produce records regarding Swallow's work on the cement plant project.

Johnson's allegations in January triggered federal, state and county investigations into Swallow. The U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section told Swallow and Shurtleff in September that it would not pursue criminal charges against them.

The Salt Lake and Davis county attorneys continue to investigate Swallow.

To date, the House committee has issued 15 subpoenas, including seven last week to Swallow's campaign strategist Jason Powers and the company and political action committees he controls.

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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