|20th Attorney General of Utah|
January 7, 2013 – December 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Mark Shurtleff|
|Succeeded by||Sean Reyes|
|Member of the Utah House of Representatives
from the 51st district
November 10, 1962 |
San Gabriel, California
|Alma mater||Brigham Young University,
J. Reuben Clark Law School
|Religion||The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)|
Swallow has been a lawyer since 1990 and was a member of the Utah State House of Representatives from 1996 to 2002. In December 2009, John Swallow was appointed Chief Deputy Attorney General for Utah. While serving as Chief Deputy, some of his most prominent projects included the fights to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) and to gain access to Utah’s public lands. In November 2012, Swallow won the election for Utah Attorney General with a 64 to 30 percent victory.
On November 21, 2013, Swallow resigned, after less than a year in office, following Federal and State investigations of alleged improprieties on his part. He was later arrested on July 2014, along with his predecessor Mark Shurtleff on corruption charges.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Politics
- 3 Investigations
- 4 Public lands
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Swallow said that at age nine, his father was killed "in a stupid accident"; the claim was later questioned. The family moved to live with his maternal grandparents in Juneau, Alaska, for three years. When his mother married Richard Swallow, he moved to Orem, Utah, where he adopted his step-father's last name. The family later moved to Nevada, where Swallow's teenage years were spent on a hay farm.
Swallow served a Spanish-speaking mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Los Angeles, California, where he "learned to speak Spanish with an L.A. accent". He earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and then a law degree from Brigham Young University, where he was a member of the Law Review. In 1985, Swallow married Suzanne Seader; after his graduation they moved to Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City. They have five children.
After working as a lawyer for several years, Swallow successfully ran for the Utah House of Representatives in 1996 for a district based in Sandy and continued serving as a State Representative for six consecutive years. While in the legislature, Swallow sponsored the then-largest tax cut in Utah’s history at the time and was named Taxpayer Advocate of the Year by the Utah Taxpayers Association for sponsoring and passing legislation to reduce taxes in Utah.
Swallow gave up his state house seat in 2002 to run for Utah's 2nd congressional district against freshman Democrat Jim Matheson. The district had been redrawn to be significantly more rural and Republican than its predecessor. The old 2nd had been located entirely within Salt Lake County, but the new 2nd included a large swath of rural territory in southern Utah. Indeed, Swallow's colleagues in the state told national Republicans that they had drawn a district that no Democrat—even a conservative one like Matheson—could possibly win. As a result, the national party spent very little money on Swallow's behalf. Ultimately, Swallow lost to Matheson by a margin of only 1,600 votes, largely because he could not overcome a 25,800-vote deficit in Salt Lake County. Swallow sought a rematch in 2004, losing this time by 12 points.
In 2009, Swallow was appointed as the Chief Deputy Attorney General of Utah for civil cases. One of his focuses was the state lawsuit to overturn President Obama's healthcare law; he led the fight for Utah against President Obama's healthcare law. Swallow also sued Barack Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to unlock federal land within Utah for oil and gas exploration and help fund education for Utah children.
Swallow announced his candidacy for Attorney General in January 2012. During his race, he was endorsed by his predecessor Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and U.S. Senator Mike Lee. Swallow was also endorsed in his candidacy by the NRA and received an "A+" rating from the 2nd Amendment organization, because of "his dedication to gun owners" and "his defense of the second amendment". Swallow was elected and sworn in January 7, 2013.
In January 2013, the United States Department of Justice and FBI investigated Swallow's role in an alleged scheme to help indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson avoid a lawsuit by the FTC. According to Johnson, who was indicted for mail-fraud charges related to his internet business iWorks, Swallow attempted to broker a deal to bribe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid with $600,000 through lobbyist Richard Rawle.
In May 2013, Marc Sessions Jenson (who was convicted in 2008 of defrauding millions from investors) turned receipts over to the FBI he claims show that in 2009 he gave Swallow free meals, massages, golf outings and rooms at a gated Newport Beach villa.
Utah State Bar Investigation
In May 2013, former Utah State Consumer protection director Traci Gunderson filed a complaint with the Utah State Bar, alleging improperly discussed settlement negotiations with a company under investigation by the Utah State Division of Consumer Protection. Swallow's office stated: "John Swallow did not violate any bar rules, and the complaint confuses the rules between a private law firm and a public law firm [sic]. The attorney general can and should hear complaints from the public. However, no meeting actually took place and no settlement offers were made or accepted."
Lieutenant Governor's investigation
Utah State House investigation
On July 3, 2013, H.R. 9001 was passed by the Utah State House of Representatives, which formed a committee to investigate allegations of misconduct against Swallow. Swallow previously stated the investigative committee was the state legislature's prerogative and that he "completely respect[s] their prerogative."
On August 7, 2013, the Utah House special investigative committee held its first meeting. Chairman Rep. Jim Dunnigan expected the investigation to take months.
Reactions to various Investigations
On June 11, 2013, Governor Gary Herbert expressed his concern over various investigations into John Swallow. The Governor was quoted as saying "What I consider ethical challenges, ethical violations. I can say that if he worked for me with all that's coming up, he wouldn't be working for me today."
A poll conducted by BYU's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy revealed that 78 percent of Utahans wanted Swallow to resign, and 71.5 percent wanted the legislature to impeach and remove him if he didn't do so. Center director Quin Monson said that Swallow was in "a dreadful place" for any elected official. No elected official in Utah has ever been impeached since statehood.
On November 21, 2013, Swallow announced his resignation from office. He cited the personal and financial strains involved in the investigations, but the Deseret News, a Salt Lake City daily newspaper, reported that he "cut a deal" with the Utah lieutenant governor's office to avoid criminal charges and the release of a report charging Swallow with violating state law. Swallow maintains that he has violated no laws.
Utah State House completes investigation
On March 11, 2014, the investigative committee commissioned by the Utah State House of Representatives completed their investigation and published their report. The committee concluded that Swallow had engaged in unethical and potentially illegal behavior, including the disappearance of substantial electronic evidence under suspicious circumstances. Swallow and his counsel repeatedly stymied investigators with false statements and fabricated documents.
On July 15, 2014, the FBI arrested Swallow, along with former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, and charged him with receiving or soliciting bribe or bribery by a public servant, false or inconsistent material statements, evidence tampering and misusing public monies. The arrest came after a search warrant was executed on the Swallow residence in June 2014. More charges are pending.
John Swallow claims he has a track record of fighting for Utah’s lands. He advocates a position arguing that federal control over land in Utah keeps the state government from having access to Utah's resources, and that this subsequently prevents economic growth and impinges on what he sees as constitutional rights. Swallow credits his upbringing on a farm with giving him an appreciation for the land and its worth.
While serving as Chief Deputy Attorney General, Swallow doubled the size of the Public Lands Litigation Team. The office also filed suit over the Wild Lands policy, filed notices of intent to litigate against the government over more than 12,000 RS-2477 roads, and worked to keep the Sage Grouse from being listed as an endangered species. Swallow alleges that expansive federal policies that cut off access to public lands are killing jobs, hurting Utah’s economy and robbing children’s classrooms of greatly needed funding.
- "Utah Election Results Retrieved August 8, 2013
- ' Retrieved Nov 22. 2013
- Bernick, Bob Jr. (October 25, 2004). "Swallow learned responsibility early". Deseret News. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
- Deseret News. "Swallow's statements about dad questioned". Retrieved 30 July 2014.
- "AG candidate John Swallow plans to stand up to federal government". Cache Valley Daily. June 18, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
- "Election 2002 – County Results: Utah House 02". CNN. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
- Romboy, Dennis (January 21, 201). "Deputy AG Swallow vying for boss' position". "KSL (radio)". Retrieved August 18, 2012. Check date values in:
- Jim Carlton (January 22, 2013). "Utah Official Fights Allegations of Bribery". Wall Street Journal.
- Robert Gehrke (January 25, 2013). "Utah Attorney General John Swallow under investigation, feds confirm". The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Gehrke, Robert (May 8, 2013). "Shurtleff, Swallow lived it up on my dime, says convicted fraudster". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
- Romboy, Dennis (September 12, 2013). "No federal charges coming against John Swallow, Mark Shurtleff". Deseret News. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
- Dennis Romboy (May 8, 2013) "Ethics complaint filed against AG Swallow over consumer protection row" Deseret News. Retrieved July 30, 2013
- Robert Gehrke (May 10, 2013) Special counsel will investigate John Swallow’s financial arrangements The Salt Lake Tribune, August 8, 2013.
- Marissa Lang (July 23, 2013) Special counsel will investigate John Swallow’s financial arrangements The Salt Lake Tribune, August 8, 2013.
- "Utah Legislature HR9001". Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- Gerhke, Robert; Davidson, Lee. Attorney general makes last-minute appeal to Republican lawmakers. The Salt Lake Tribune, June 19, 2013.
- Dennis Romboy (August 6, 2013) "Attorney General John Swallow 'blown away' by Utah House investigation" Deseret News. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
- Richard Piatt (June 11, 2013) Herbert: 'If Swallow worked for me, he'd be gone' Deseret News. Retrieved July 30, 2013
- Gerhke, Robert; Davidson, Lee. 78% of Utahns say Swallow should quit, BYU poll shows. The Salt Lake Tribune, April 18, 2013.
- "" Retrieved November 22, 2013
- "Final Report and Related Materials". Utah State Legislature. Retrieved March 15, 2014.
- Roche, Lisa Riley; Romboy, Dennis (March 12, 2014). "Ex-AG John Swallow hung 'for sale' sign on office door, new report says". KSL TV. Retrieved March 15, 2014.
- Crofts, Natalie (July 15, 2014). "Swallow, Shurtleff taken into custody". KSL. Retrieved July 15, 2014.