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Utah House drafts resolution to investigate Attorney General John Swallow

Published: Tuesday, June 30 2015 12:04 a.m. MDT

Utah Attorney General John Swallow speaks with reporters in Salt Lake City. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah Attorney General John Swallow speaks with reporters in Salt Lake City. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House has drafted a resolution to form a special committee to investigate embattled Attorney General John Swallow.

"The proposed committee is the will of the people as expressed through their representatives," House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, wrote in an email Friday to House members.

Lawmakers will consider creating the committee in a special session of the House at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The House Rules Committee will hold a public meeting on the proposal at 8 a.m. that day.

The resolution calls for the speaker to appoint a nine-member special investigative committee. It does not specify the number of Republicans or Democrats but would presumably reflect the overwhelming GOP majority in the House.

The committee would be charged with investigating allegations against Swallow, a Republican, while he served as chief deputy attorney general, as a candidate for attorney general and as attorney general.

At the end of the investigation, the committee would submit a report to the House, including the need for any legislation. The resolution does not set any time frames or deadlines for the panel to complete its work but includes a Dec. 31, 2014, repeal date.

"We've taken on a task that will be neither pleasant nor easy," Lockhart wrote in the email. "But there is no group of people I trust more to find the facts than the House of Representatives."

Democrats called for the committee to be bipartisan with equal representation from both parties.

“The public’s faith and trust in our government hangs in the balance, and our elected officials must take extraordinary steps to be open, transparent and avoid even the appearance that partisan politics is damaging the process,” said Matt Lyon, Utah Democratic Party executive director.

Lyon said Utah should appoint a 10-member investigative committee with five Democrats and five Republicans as Connecticut did in a similar situation.

“We can and should follow their lead, taking best practices from states who have trod the these paths before,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section is investigating Swallow, as are the Salt Lake County district attorney and the Davis County attorney, both related to his dealings with indicted and imprisoned Utah businessmen. The lieutenant governor's office is appointing special counsel to look into alleged election law violations.

Swallow steadfastly denies any wrongdoing.

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