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Newly recovered emails delay House report on ex-Attorney General Swallow

Published: Friday, March 7 2014 2:35 p.m. MST

Embattled Utah Attorney General John Swallow announces his resignation at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. More information retrieved from Swallow's personal computer delayed release Friday of the House Special Investigative Committee's final report.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House Special Investigative Committee has retrieved another 400 emails from former Attorney General John Swallow's crashed personal computer.

Legislative general counsel John Fellows told the committee Friday that some of the emails show Swallow had knowledge of the political action committees and nonprofit entities that investigators say his campaign consultant, Jason Powers, set up to hide $450,000 in contributions. Much of the money came from the payday loan industry to which Swallow had close ties.

Emails also showed Swallow knew about the effort to oust former Republican state Rep. Brad Daw using the campaign funds for attack ads, he said. Daw, of Orem, was running legislation to put more restrictions on payday lenders.

Fellows said the additional emails also corroborate the committee's findings presented in a two-day meeting in December, about two weeks after Swallow resigned.

In all, a computer forensics expert the committee paid $100,000 recovered about 2,000 emails from the crashed hard drive that Swallow's attorney said wasn't recoverable, Fellows said. The committee was made aware of most them earlier this year. It received the latest ones about 10 days ago.

The new information delayed the committee's final report, which was expected to be made public Friday.

An electronic copy, estimated to be 215 pages long with 3,700 pages of exhibits, won't be released until the middle of next week, said Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, committee chairman.

"We hope to get the information out as soon as we can. It's just the gymnastics of getting it out on the Web," Dunnigan said.

The committee met behind closed doors Friday to discuss a draft of the report, including the newly discovered emails.

"We just had to do some fine-tuning," Dunnigan said after the meeting.

Rod Snow, Swallow's attorney, said he submitted a brief response to some of the committee's findings presented in December. Snow said he didn't know if they would be included in the report, and the committee has refused to give him an advance copy.

"It appears they have no interest in hearing both sides to their version of events and their distortions of the facts," Snow said in an email.

Dunnigan said outside responses would not be part of the report but posted online with other documents the committee received.

He anticipates the committee will present the final report to the full House by the middle of next week. The report also would be made available to the public online in a searchable format that includes responses to subpoenas, correspondence and expenditures, he said.

The investigation, which began last August, has cost the state about $4 million — $1 million more than originally estimated.

"They want to try and justify the money they have spent when there were so many other compelling needs for that money," Snow said. "This entire process has been unfair to Mr. Swallow, and that should be obvious to everyone."

Swallow remains the subject of a joint criminal investigation by the Salt Lake and Davis county attorneys.

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy

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