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Ethics complaint against John Swallow dismissed

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 24 2013 4:32 p.m. MST

An ethics complaint filed with the Utah State Bar against former Utah Attorney General John Swallow has been dismissed. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) An ethics complaint filed with the Utah State Bar against former Utah Attorney General John Swallow has been dismissed. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — An ethics complaint filed with the Utah State Bar against former Utah Attorney General John Swallow has been dismissed.

Former consumer protection director Traci Gunderson, who was also a former assistant attorney general, filed a complaint in May alleging that Swallow, while serving as the office's chief deputy in 2012, discussed settlement negotiations with a telemarketer against whom the state Division of Consumer Protection had imposed a $400,000 fine.

Gunderson claimed Swallow did not have permission to conduct, nor did he inform the division about the preliminary settlement talks with the company. She also claimed that Swallow said if he were elected attorney general that he would move the division under the attorney general's umbrella to have more control over the agency to negotiate settlements.

The complaint stemmed from an April 7, 2012, recorded telephone conservation between Swallow and Aaron Christner, co-founder of Mad Cow Productions and Level 11 Mentoring.

In a letter dated Dec. 3 to Gunderson, however, the Utah State Bar's Office of Professional Conduct noted that the phone call was the only discussion Swallow had with Christner and there was never any follow up.

"The evidence you provided is insufficient to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Swallow engaged in conduct that violated the Rules of Professional Conduct," the letter states. "There is no evidence that Mr. Swallow or (former Attorney General Mark) Shurtleff had any further discussions with Mr. Christner, his representatives or Mr. Bucker about settling this case."

The letter also noted that most of Gunderson's allegations were part of separate and other ongoing investigations by other agencies.

The letter was a small victory for Swallow in what has otherwise been a tough month. He resigned earlier this month as attorney general on the eve of several damning reports that were released. Investigators say Swallow deliberately destroyed data and made up documents while also devising a strategy to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions he received from the industry during his campaign.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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