SALT LAKE CITY — The Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld was selected Friday to work for the special Utah House committee investigating embattled Attorney General John Swallow.
"The firm has strong experience right where we need it most," said the committee's chairman, Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville. "We'll also have the benefit of an exemplary lead attorney in Steven Reich."
In 2004, Reich served as special counsel to the Connecticut House committee that investigated then-Gov. John Rowland. Facing impeachment, Rowland resigned and later served 10 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to corruption charges.
Reich also was the deputy chief investigative counsel to Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and in the U.S. Senate during the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton.
Akin Gump, founded in 1945, has more than 850 attorneys in offices in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East and offers a wide variety of legal specialities, including political law and government ethics.
Reich, who will be joined by Steven Ross, the leader of the law firm's congressional investigation practice and a former general counsel of the U.S. House, are expected to begin their work in Utah once contract negotiations are completed.
Sixty-one law firms competed for the contract, a list narrowed down to 10 last week by an evaluation committee made up of lawmakers and legislative staff. None of the finalists were Utah firms.
House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, appointed the House committee last month to gather facts about the allegations leveled at Swallow, who is the subject of federal, state and county investigations. The panel will report its findings to the House, which could consider impeachment proceedings.
The Department of Justice Public Integrity Section is investigating Swallow's relationship with indicted St. George online marketer Jeremy Johnson and imprisoned businessman Marc Sessions Jenson.
Johnson claims Swallow helped broker an attempt to bribe a U.S. senator to thwart a federal investigation into Johnson's Internet company. Jenson contends Swallow sought a stake in a failed luxury resort project in exchange for favorable treatment by the attorney general's office.
In addition to the DOJ, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings are conducting a joint investigation into Swallow and his predecessor Mark Shurtleff.
The lieutenant governor's office hired the law firm Snell & Wilmer to look into whether Swallow broke state campaign finance laws. The first-term Republican also is the subject of two Utah State Bar complaints.
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