It’s been over a month now since the Salt Lake Tribune broke the story about John Swallow and Jeremy Johnson.
In the interim we’ve seen more news — all of it bad — including today’s most recent headline: “Swallow suggested cash in exchange for protection, sources say.” And don’t forget when we learned earlier this week that Mr. Swallow’s own boss (whether motivated by legacy preservation or other concerns) reported Swallow to the FBI (prior to the election, mind you — and then continued to campaign for him to the bitter end).
There have been media demands for resignation and talk about FBI Investigations, ethics reform, and even some whispers about impeachment . . . and yet there John Swallow quietly sits, huddled in the Attorney General’s office, sending out politically hackish emails (e.g., “Fighting for Traditional Families”), crossing his fingers while anxiously awaiting the outcome of an investigation over illegality. One may be reasonably certain that Mr. Swallow will (likely through a spokesman) indignantly claim vindication if the investigation ends in anything other than a decision to bring charges.
There are still a few voices out there counseling for us to “wait for the facts to come out,” because, after all, this whole thing may be shoddy political takedown manufactured by Jeremy Johnson or those liberals at the Salt Lake Tribune.
That’s not surprising in politics and not too concerning since they’re really not making much noise.
More surprising and concerning than Swallow’s few, quiet defenders, is the utter absence of noise from our elected officials and the public at large. Our representatives appear to be whispering in the background, waiting for the smoking gun that will allow them to step out from behind the curtain and demand resignation. They’re being careful — and such cautious care is often, after all, the successful politician’s stock in trade (and not a quality to be scoffed at).
But, right now, these folks are John Swallow’s best friends.
There is being prudently cautious and there is refusing to act because you want to be bailed out. It appears to me that we have the latter here in Utah when it comes to Mr. Swallow.
We know all we need to know about John Swallow’s lack of judgment and utter lack of credibility to serve as Utah’s chief law enforcement officer. Right now the only thing that is being gained by continuing to wait and whisper is an increased likelihood that Mr. Swallow, despite having lost all public confidence as this state’s top law enforcement officer, will finish his term in office.
Because let me tell you how I think this ends, if people wait to act until after the conclusion of the federal investigation. There’s a good chance that the investigation ends with a decision not to bring charges (whether out of a conviction that there was no technical violation or law or just out of a lack of evidence), thus doing nothing more than confirming what we already know — Mr. Swallow has questionable ethics or extraordinarily poor judgment. At that point, Mr. Swallow claims victory, and I see it highly unlikely that he is impeached after being “cleared” or that political will to force a resignation will suddenly materialize in the aftermath of a “favorable” result.
That would be a tragedy — a stain on the state of Utah and the good work done by our Attorney General’s Office. And therein lies the danger of continuing to wait, hoping for the smoking gun of illegal conduct (which many will argue we already have).
John Swallow’s hoping this is just how things play out, so that he can finish his term, maybe get a signature “win,” and emerge with favorable record that will make everyone forget all about his messy past.
Because Mr. Swallow is firmly convinced (or at least thinks it’s a good bet) that we’re all just fine with a few shenanigans so long as the federal government doesn’t arrest him on national TV, criminals continue to get convicted, and we fight the good fight at the Supreme Court.
Thus far, Mr. Swallow has been immune to public pressure, confident in the fact that he won’t be charged and people will forget all about this as soon as the Tribune runs out of stories to print.
Seems to me like we need to ratchet up the pressure . . . .