Some Utah lawmakers backed AG’s impeachment

FILE - In this June 19, 2013, file photo, Utah Attorney General John Swallow addresses reporters outside his office following a three-hour caucus meeting at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. The cost of the ongoing Utah House investigation of the state's attorney general is nearing $1.5 million. The Salt Lake Tribune reports Republican Rep. Jim Dunnigan said Wednesday that investigators have talked with 140 witnesses and issued 15 subpoenas during the first three months of the inquiry into a series of allegations against John Swallow. He's accused of attempted bribery and accepting gifts and favors among other accusations. Swallow denies any wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Several members of a Utah House committee say they would have supported efforts to impeach John Swallow had he not stepped down as attorney general earlier this month.

Rep. Lee Perry, a member of the House Special Investigative Committee, said he thinks fellow Republican Swallow saw the writing on the wall and resigned before the House could act on the panel’s findings.

He noted the night before Swallow announced he would resign, his counsel asked for a copy of a sworn deposition from the attorney general office’s computer specialist. That witness testified Swallow told him to erase data from his office computers, contradicting Swallow’s claims that thousands of emails were accidentally lost.

“I think based on what we heard, we definitely would have been on course for impeachment,” Perry told The Salt Lake Tribune.

House investigators said it appeared Swallow deliberately deleted data from multiple devices and fabricated other documents to mislead future probes. He was accused of setting up a bribe and offering several businessmen protection in return for favors, among other accusations. He has denied all allegations.

Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, said he also would have supported impeachment proceedings based on findings of the abbreviated House inquiry.

“The evidence we produced and our findings were very clear: that John Swallow was absolutely not honest with the voters in the state of Utah and that was true on many levels and on many fronts,” he told The Tribune.

Rep. Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake City, said the committee’s findings “definitely” would have been “strong grounds” to warrant impeachment had not Swallow bowed out.

But other committee members reserved judgment.

Swallow declined to provide sworn testimony to House investigators, complicating the probe. Without that information, House Majority Leader Brad Dee said, it is hard to draw definitive conclusions.

“Obviously, there are two sides to every story, and he resigned before we even got a chance to hear his,” the Ogden Republican said.

The committee is expected to meet in January to discuss changes to state campaign laws and plans to issue a written report of its findings in about a month.

Most committee members would like investigators to be given more time to conclude their work.

“There certainly are areas that could bear additional investigation,” said Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, chairman of the House panel.

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