Lt. Gov. won't pursue civil complaint against Utah Attorney General John Swallow
Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, suggested that the governor should choose someone who will "clean house" for the next year and then not run for election. He also said he won't vie for the job.
"The biggest thing we now have to establish is trust," he said. "That's what we've lost."
At a Tuesday press conference, Dabakis and other Democratic leaders argued that Swallow wasn't legally elected, and because he can't resign from an office he never held, Republicans shouldn't get to pick his replacement. They said voters should choose the next attorney general in a special election.
Cox called Dabakis' reading of the law "Jedi mind tricks." He said he consulted with five attorneys who can't go through the "mental gymnastics" to arrive at the same conclusion "that John Swallow never existed or never came into office."
"They're just wrong," Cox said of the Democrats.
Also, he said a statewide special election would cost about $3 million.
Dabakis said he's willing to let his argument go if Herbert would agree to Valentine's proposal to appoint a caretaker until the 2014 election. He said it's a better solution than going to court or having a political person in the office.
"We need a statesman. We don't need a political hack," he said.
Maryann Martindale, executive director of the Alliance for a Better Utah, said she wasn't surprised by the lieutenant governor's decision. Better Utah filed the complaint against Swallow that led to the investigation.
"We're frustrated that they didn't move it on to a judge or someone to actually get more clarification rather than just an inside decision about what the statute meant," she said. "We need election law experts to weigh in on this."
Martindale said it's good that the report will go to other investigations. "They should be vetting this for other charges. There may be criminal charges associated with this," she said.
As the plaintiff in the case, she said she believes Better Utah has some rights to bring its own civil case against Swallow but doesn't have the money to pursue it.
The special counsel recommended the lieutenant governor turn the report over to a judge to consider voiding the election and declaring the office vacant.
"Swallow's explanations for these acts and omissions, when considered in the light of internal inconsistencies and conflicting evidence, raise numerous questions of credibility that should be assessed by a finder of fact applying the applicable law," the report said.
Cox said he's not going against the recommendation because the special counsel reached its conclusions before Swallow resigned, and the counsel now agrees that the law is satisfied.
Contributing: Richard Piatt, Peter Samore
Twitter: dennisromboy; DNewsPolitics
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