SALT LAKE CITY — Congressional candidate Mia Love said Tuesday the allegations against embattled Attorney General John Swallow, a fellow Republican, are "disappointing" and he should not have been so focused on personal gain.
"You're supposed to be there to serve the people of the state, not your own interests," Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, told the Deseret News. "I can tell you that it's been very disappointing to see all of the things that have come out and I really hope we resolve it soon."
Asked if Swallow should step down, Love said: "I cannot make any comment about that. But I think we need to do a better job at making sure we're not looking out for our own benefits. That's what we're looking out for, you know, doing the job and focusing on people."
Meanwhile, a lawmaker who had been the first to publicly call for Swallow to resign said Tuesday the attorney general could instead take a paid leave of absence while the investigations into the allegations go forward.
"I just think he needs to get himself out of the way," Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said. "The one thing I want is to be fair. I understand his point that he may be admitting guilt if he resigned."
Ray, who said the credibility of the attorney general's office is being hurt as a result of the allegations, said he didn't "want to throw somebody under the bus when something may not be completely true."
But Paul Murphy, a spokesman for Swallow, said the attorney general will not be stepping aside.
"The attorney general has not broken any laws and has no plans to resign. It would be more disappointing if anyone lost their faith in the justice system based on a trial by the media," Murphy said, answering simply, "No," when asked if Swallow would take a leave of absence.
Ray said he plans to meet soon with Swallow. He said he expects lawmakers to discuss their options, which include impeachment, when they gather for their next interim meetings in mid-June.
Swallow is being investigated by federal, state and local authorities in connection with a number of allegations, including that he helped broker a deal for an indicted St. George businessman attempting to derail a federal investigation into his company.
The Department of Justice is investigating the alleged deal as well as allegations that Swallow promised special consideration to three telemarketers in exchange for contributions to former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's re-election campaign.
Also, the Utah State Bar is looking into two professional misconduct complaints against Swallow, and the Utah Lieutenant Governor's Office has announced a special counsel will be appointed to examine alleged election law violations.
Love announced earlier this month at the state GOP convention that she is once again challenging Utah's only Democrat in Congress, Rep. Jim Matheson, who represents the new 4th District, in 2014.
She said she hopes the allegations against Swallow won't hurt her and other Republican candidates.
"I hope not, because we're certainly not like that," Love said. "Anyone who has talked about it, they've just said that they're really disappointed in the individual, not necessarily the party."
Love said Tuesday the toughest question she faces as a candidate is how the 2014 campaign will differ from her 2012 race, when she narrowly lost to Matheson.
"It's a leadership issue," Love said of the latest campaign, in which no other Republicans have yet expressed interest. "It's not about liking somebody or not liking somebody. It's about getting something done."
Love's campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said he plans to focus on getting Love "out more into distinct neighborhoods" this election as well as identifying the voters likely to support her and making sure they get to the polls.
Hansen, who ran Sen. Orrin Hatch's successful re-election bid last year, said he expects to see a similar level of national support for Love's new campaign. Love attracted big GOP names including Arizona Sen. John McCain to Utah for fundraisers in 2012.
"I'm not seeing anything change on that," Hansen said. "I think they're all going to want to come in and help."
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