Since the Salt Lake Tribune broke the story about John Swallow’s troubling connections to disgraced philanthropist Jeremy Johnson last Saturday, calls for Swallow’s resignation have trickled in. Over the last 24 hours, that trickle has become more of a flood. It seems like everyone agrees that Swallow’s got to go.
I commented after my initial post that I didn’t think this would take him down, unless it got more messy (which it has). Well, now we’ve got other federal investigative targets associated with Swallow and a deathbed affidavit that appears to have been prepared in a panic and has done nothing but make the scandal worse. The whole thing stinks of an amateur hour attempt at Chicago-style pay to play politics.
I’m revising my opinion. Swallow’s done. The sooner he realizes it the better for all concerned. There are plenty of attorneys in Utah (and within the AG’s office) who would do a fine job as Attorney General. Let’s get one of them in and move forward.
But while we should all be happy that we’re about to be rid of John Swallow (provided we keep the pressure on), we should also be quite concerned.
Utahns — and especially our state delegates — really need to ask themselves . . . how in the world did this guy get elected? Because it’s not as if any of this should have taken us by surprise.
Daniel Burton of PubliusOnline, put up an excellent post this morning summarizing John Swallow’s political career in headlines — none of which were positive. The only news the average Utahn had about John Swallow was about sketchy campaign tactics, a history of inappropriate lobbying procedures, and exaggeration regarding his legal abilities.
The information was front and center for everyone to see.
And plenty of people saw it, believe me.
Most of my Republican political associates saw it. My attorney friends saw it. In fact, every attorney I know opposed John Swallow for AG — regardless of whether they supported Dee Smith (the Democratic candidate) or Sean Reyes (the primary opponent). Folks, it was really almost that universal among the man’s peers!
I opposed him repeatedly. So did many, many others I know. Swallow’s primary opponent, Sean Reyes, raised concerns in an official complaint (which was covered in the press) and got ridiculed for playing dirty — oh the irony!
But maybe we didn’t speak up loud enough, because the man nearly skated through convention as the GOP choice without a primary in a system that’s designed to be an equalizer for qualified candidates without money or name recognition.
Maybe people just don’t care about the race for attorney general when they’ve got a Presidential election and race for U.S. Senator.
But regardless of whether the position of Attorney General is as politically sexy as Governor or Senator, a man with John Swallow’s track record should not have gotten elected. It’s a black eye for the state and undermines the good work done by the attorneys at the AG’s office — even the good work (and I’m sure there was some) done by Swallow himself as a Deputy AG.
I know many of liberal friends are talking this week about dominant party democracy and LDS political hegemony.
But I think we all just need to talk about law enforcement, ethics in politics, and out state’s very troubling refusal to engage with these issues on any adequate basis. Because, people, if we (and I’m speaking broadly here) can’t even do our homework on a guy with issues as obvious as John Swallow’s, then situations like this are going to be the predictable end result.
What does this debacle say about Utah? It says we’re too complacent when it comes to demanding transparency and upright conduct in our political leaders . . . even though we talk about it an awful lot.
We need to do two things.
First, we have a legislative session coming up, and we need to demand action from our legislature to put in place safeguards designed to reduce the likelihood that this happens again. Second, and more importantly, we need to hold ourselves and our our neighborhood representatives accountable. If you had a state delegate who voted for John Swallow you need to ask them why, and if you can’t get a satisfactory answer, well, then, you know what to do . . . .
Lets keep on this one.