Election Law

Campaign-donation secrecy at issue in report criticizing former Utah AG Swallow

The Utah State Bar says it is continuing its ethics investigation of former Utah Attorney General John Swallow after a report by a special legislative committee raised questions about “pay to play” politics.

The report alleges Swallow tried to defend payday loan companies while receiving campaign contributions through political organizations that are not required to disclose their donors, the New York Times reports. The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News spoke with bar officials, who said the bar would review the report as part of its ongoing investigation. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill also said his office was looking at the report, but declined to say whether criminal charges would be filed.

According to the Times, the report and other public records offer “a strikingly candid view inside the world of political nonprofits, where big money sluices into campaigns behind a veil of secrecy.” Emails removed from Swallow’s computer detail how his campaign consultant used hidden contributions to finance attack ads on Swallow’s political opponents, the Deseret News says. There are no limits on campaign donations in Utah.

Swallow is also accused of altering records and deleting documents to conceal his conduct, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Swallow says documents were lost because of technical malfunctions.

Swallow resigned from office in November. His lawyer, Rod Snow, told the Deseret News that any suggestion the attorney general’s office was for sale is “absolutely false.” Snow previously told lawmakers in a letter that there was no “nefarious plot afoot to destroy evidence,” the Salt Lake Tribune says.

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