Some Gems from the John Swallow Report, Part 1

Utah Attorney General John Swallow resigns

Just in case you had neither the time of inclination to read the full House Committee Report on its investigation of John Swallow, I thought I’d provide some snippets that I consider, in an unfortunate use of that term, “gems.”  Others will (and have) summarized the conclusions of the report, which aren’t good if your name is John Swallow.  And while most of the story has been summarized and restated ad naseum, but here are a few things that may be new  to you, or at least offer some more details/context on the whole ugly situation:

John Swallow has requested reimbursement from the State for reviewing documents the state obtained off Swallow’s Own Hard Drive.

Rather remarkably, just prior to the filing of the Committee’s final report, Mr. Swallow demanded that the State’s taxpayers reimburse him nearly $23,000 for costs he says he incurred in reviewing documents recovered from his own hard drive.

John Swallow considered running for Governor in 2011…with the AG as a Test — Governor Swallow?  Yikes!

A document recovered by the Committee from Mr. Swallow’s personal hard drive reveals another reason why a successful fundraising operation was important. On March 10, 2011, Mr. Swallow emailed Mr. Powers about the possibility of Mr. Swallow later running for governor. He wrote, “the tea party groups are going to be very upset with the Governor and he has not taken a lead in some of the important issues. Is he going to be vulnerable? Who do you know that could take him? Could I if l raised $500k to $750k for a Convention or Primary? Strategy would be to prep for AG race and wait and see.” 

In order to justify amounts he spent using a prepaid debit card from Richard Rawles (Swallow’s main payday loan guy), John Swallow claimed the cash on the card was payment for gold coins Rawles first gave him as a gift and that Swallow later re-sold back to Rawles while Swallow was a deputy AG.

In his testimony, Mr. Swallow said that before he left Check City to become Chief Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Rawle gave him 12 one-ounce pure gold coins as a gift. Ex. 1 at 51:9 – 52:16. After becoming Chief Deputy, Mr. Swallow decided to sell the coins because, he told the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, he “wanted to have a little bit of extra expense money.” According to Mr. Swallow, Mr. Rawle agreed to re- purchase the coins he previously had given Mr. Swallow as a gift and, between June 2011 and February 2012, Mr. Swallow sold the coins back to Mr. Rawle, one or two or three at a time, for about $1,300 apiece. Rather than write a check to Mr. Swallow, Mr. Rawle instead made deposits to the Netspend account as the coins were sold. In total, Mr. Swallow received $17,000 from Mr. Rawle on this prepaid card. 

You read that right folks…Richard Rawles apparently gave Swallow a number of gold coins when Swallow left his employment to go to work at the AG’s office.  Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, while Swallow was deputy AG and planning to run for AG, he got that same lender to buy back the coins he had given him as a “gift” and put the money on a prepaid card which Swallow then used to go solicit anonymous campaign contributions from…payday lenders…wow…

 The directors of Proper Role of Government Education Association, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that was set up to hide the identity of campaign contributors, were Jason Powers, his wife, and Swallow’s campaign manager.

A nonprofit called the Proper Role of Government Education Association (PRGEA) was created under Mr. Powers’ name. Ex. 61. At the time of incorporation, the directors were Mr. Powers; his wife, Malinda Powers; and Jessica Fawson, Mr. Swallow’s campaign manager. 

This was the principal way its connection to Swallow was identified…go figure…

 And more for amusement that anything else, Shurtleff and Swallow held a fundraiser called “The Wasatch Shotgun Blast,” which funneled money into Power’s 501(c)(4).

An email recovered from Mr. Swallow’s personal computer’s hard drive shows that the payday industry contributed $75,000 (and pledged another $90,000) to PRGEA in 2011 for the “Wasatch Shotgun Blast” fundraiser hosted by Mr. Swallow and Mr. Shurtleff. Ex. 63.

The results of the fundraiser were summarized in a “Shootout Report,” proving, yet again, that truth (in politics, especially) is stranger than fiction…

I don’t know quite how to describe this one, other than “pot meet kettle,” but here you go…

The anti-Reyes television and radio ads minced no words in attacking Mr. Reyes’s integrity. The television ad alleged that Mr. Reyes had “major ethics issues” and the ads’ announcers breathlessly trumpeted an alleged campaign finance violation that had previously been investigated and dismissed. The ads stated that Mr. Reyes admitted to making a “$5,000 under the table, misreported cash payment” to his political consultant. In the radio ad, one of the characters states, “That’s completely unethical.” The ad continued by calling Mr. Reyes, “a candidate for Attorney General who has ethics issues with his own campaign.” The television ad concluded, “Sean Reyes, skirting campaign laws, not the ethics we need for Attorney General.”

Soon after the ads began airing, a problem developed. The negative nature of the anti- Reyes ads attracted significant attention and questions began to be asked about who had funded them. Less than a week later, on June 21, 2012, Jason Powers sent an email to Mr. Swallow, the campaign’s manager, Jessica Fawson, and a campaign consultant, suggesting a script for how the campaign should publicly address the ads. “Jessie [Fawson] should talk about this, ‘The campaign did not authorize these ads; John Swallow has never heard them. However, we’re appalled by the Super PAC run by Democrats in support of Sean Reyes sending out 30,000 false last-minute mailers, filled with unsubstantiated rumors and innuendo about John Swallow.’” A few minutes later, Mr. Swallow responded, “Looks good.” Jessica Fawson was copied on the email. Ex. 77. 

That’s it for today, everyone, but more to come in Part 2…

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