State Republican Chairman Richard Snelgrove said Monday he won't form a panel to look into allegations that 3rd District GOP candidate Karl Snow worked with penny stock promoter Michael Strand to cheat investors out of money.

A new group sprang up last week - Utahns for Ethical Government - and reiterated charges that Snow knew or should have known that Strand's stock promotion of Global Oil would end in financial failure.Snow then asked Snelgrove to impanel a "judicial review" to look into the matter once and for all. Snelgrove at first said he would but later changed his mind.

"It's incomprehensible to assemble a panel to again unnecessarily respond to cruel, distorted representations made by criminals and fanatics who are involved in this political conspiracy with Bill Orton (Snow's Democratic opponent) and the Democratic leadership in their attempt to hinder this election," said Snelgrove.

Orton vehemently denies that he has anything to do with Utahns for Ethical Government. Orton steadfastly refuses to talk about Snow's stock dealings.

"What you are witnessing is the thrashing of a man drowning in his own bad publicity," Orton said. "All of the allegations have been raised by people from Snow's own past and members of his own political party. It is evident that Snow is trying to create a smoke screen to divert attention from his own problems and attempting to shift the political stench onto me."

Snelgrove places all the blame on Orton.

"It is time for political fairness. I ask Bill Orton to come out of the closet, 'fess up and admit he knows that his only chance of winning is to paint Karl Snow as someone he is not. Mr. Orton, you should be ashamed of stooping to such gutter depths of political slander. This scurrilous character assassination for your political benefit is too offensive to deserve any further comment, review, or discussion," said Snelgrove.

Orton said in a release Monday his campaign is "moving forward on the real issues facing our future. . . . I'm more concerned with our future than Karl Snow's past."

Snelgrove said Orton and Democratic leaders "admitted" in a poll that if they can paint Snow as a "penny stock cheater who is in cahoots with a convicted felon" that it will improve Orton's chances of winning the election.

Snelgrove also said it was "not surprising that Orton's signature is on the checkout form of the court file of Unique Battery in the courts clerk office, clear back during the primary campaign."

Orton did not respond to that allegation.

Snelgrove also railed on Orton's efforts to distance himself from Utahns for Ethical Government and an "absurd" insert they distributed last week in the Provo Daily Herald. The insert, which reiterated allegations about the depth of Snow's involvement with Strand, was paid for by local businessman Ken Murdock, Snelgrove said.

"Why did Orton spend much of Thursday morning at Murdock's brother's home?" he asked.

"Talk about a smear campaign," said George Murdock, Ken Murdock's brother, when asked about Snelgrove's comment. George Murdock, a Republican who lives in Orem, said he plans to vote for Orton but has nothing to do with Utahns for Ethical Government.

"My brother does his thing, I do mine," George Murdock said. "There were none of those brochures handed out and that group wasn't talked about. . . . That was a meeting of my friends who did not know what they were going to do this election. . . . Bill Orton is absolutely not involved in that group; nor am I."

Orton finds it interesting that "Snow's campaign is following me. I find it a sad commentary on the depths to which Mr. Snow has sunk in this campaign when he questions the motives of a meeting with (Republicans) from Utah County."

In another twist, Snelgrove said that Orton shares office space with Daniel Darger, brother of John Darger, a polygamist and sales manager of Unique Battery.

"He (Dan Darger) is also the same man who told the independent attorneys committee that `Karl Snow did nothing wrong.' "

Daniel Darger is out of town. His secretary said Darger and Orton share an office suite but aren't associated. A third attorney sharing the suite is Ralph C. Petty.

Petty represented some clients who sued Strand over a business matter. Petty told the Deseret News he did not think Orton knew Strand and that he had not discussed his cases with Orton.

In 1985, Strand - who has been convicted of income tax evasion and mail fraud in other stock dealings but not in the Global Oil deal - offered Snow a position on Global's board and 100,000 shares of free stock. Snow did attend some of the early business meetings concerning Global Oil, which was going to buy out Unique Battery, a firm that made a new kind of car battery. However, Snow never officially was listed as an officer of the company, didn't accept the board of directors post or the 100,000 shares of stock, even though it was later issued in his name.

The merger of the Global Oil and Unique Battery failed, and a number of stockholders lost their investments.

No criminal complaints have been issued over Global's failure, although there is ongoing civil action. Snow has never been named in any civil action, court records show.

Snow denies any wrongdoing. An independent group of attorneys, before the Sept. 11 GOP primary between Snow and John Harmer, investigated both men's financial backgrounds. They cleared Snow. Snow later paid an attorney and certified public accountant to look into the matter. They also cleared Snow.