In October of last year (a few weeks before the election), the Utah Democratic Lawyers Council (UDLC) contacted the local news media to express its concerns about information it had received regarding a possible federal investigation involving then candidate for Attorney General, John Swallow. Although we had heard of the possible investigation from different sources, the news media failed to break the story, apparently because they were unable to find sources to “go on record” to confirm the existence of the investigation. Unfortunately, Utah voters were denied information that very likely would have changed the results of the election. Now, former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who supported Mr. Swallow, admits that he contacted the US Attorney’s office in October to disclose his concerns about Jeremy Johnson’s allegations of bribery involving Swallow.
The UDLC — and many other interested parties — are extremely concerned about why former Attorney General Shurtleff, other high-ranking Republican elected officials, and other state Republican party leaders who knew of the investigation did not bring this information to the public’s attention prior to the election. If Mr. Shurtleff was concerned enough to contact the US Attorney’s office, then like the UDLC did, he should have raised the issue publicly and given Mr. Swallow the opportunity to address it before the election. This discourse would have permitted the citizens of the State of Utah to make an informed decision about the Attorney General race.
“Mr. Swallow’s behavior in this matter is alarming at best, and raises troubling ethical issues and perhaps involves criminal wrongdoing by Attorney General Swallow,” said Blaine L. Carlton, UDLC President. “This is absolutely not the way our high-ranking government officials should conduct themselves. Even if Mr. Swallow’s actions are not criminal, they clearly constituted a material breach of the public trust. For that reason alone, Mr. Swallow should immediately resign from his position as Attorney General. Although such an act would not provide recompense for his previous actions, it would at least be an indication that Mr. Swallow now understands the gravity of his actions and desires to permit our government to function as it was designed to do, without such substantial distractions.
In addition, the state Republican Party cannot sit idly by. The party leaders should also call for Mr. Swallow’s resignation and, at the same time, the party should conduct its own internal investigation and impose appropriate sanctions, if warranted. The citizens of Utah deserve no less.”
Now that the 2012 elections are over, it is appropriate to reflect on the UDLC accomplishments over the last 18 months to congratulate ourselves on our past efforts and to resolve to become even more active in participating in the political process in the future.
- launched its website in February, 2012. Since then, it has provided timely information regarding UDLC’s activities and Democratic candidates.
- sponsored a CLE seminar on the redistricting process where legislative representatives explained what was at stake and the options being considered by the Legislature.
- sponsored a CLE seminar on the Affordable Health Care Act where faculty members of the S. J. Quinney College of Law and members of the health care community discussed National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius and its legal ramifications.
- sponsored a luncheon with Representative Jim Matheson to discuss concerns regarding his voting record.
- submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing our concerns with the selection process for U.S. Attorney.
- worked closely with Democratic legislators to review proposed legislation and to provide input from a legal perspective.
- worked closely with the Democratic Party to identify lawyers to run for state and local offices.
- sponsored a debate between Democratic candidates Ben McAdams and Ross Romero who ran for Salt Lake County Mayor.
- worked closely with the Democratic Party to submit a GRAMA request to the State Legislature regarding the redistricting process to make public the Republican Party’s redistricting decision made behind closed doors.
- actively supported several Democratic lawyers who ran for local office, including Ben McAdams who was elected as Salt Lake County mayor.
- held receptions for Peter Cooke and Vince Rampton, Dee Smith and Ben McAdams.
- participated in the Obama campaign in Colorado which contributed to Obama winning in that State.
- contacted the local news media regarding persistent rumors that Attorney General elect Swallow may be the subject of a federal investigation. This matter has not yet been resolved.
UDLC remains committed to its goals of developing and maintaining a balanced political environment, fostering a culture of increased political activism among Democratic lawyers, assisting our legislators and others in developing public policy based on sound analysis, and educating and informing our members and our community about public policy issues.
If you have not already done so, please join us as a member of UDLC. We also solicit your input and participation in UDLC activities. Our website describes how you can become a member and how you can participate in our organization. You can also contact any member of the UDLC board to discuss your participation.