There are few disappointments in politics worse than perceived, let alone real, corruption within law enforcement. John Swallow is the chief law enforcement officer in Utah, and precisely because I believe that he strives to be a man of integrity, he should step down. —Sutherland Institute executive director Paul Mero
SALT LAKE CITY — A conservative, nonpartisan public policy think tank is calling for embattled Utah Attorney General John Swallow to resign.
In a radio address posted online Tuesday, Sutherland Institute executive director Paul Mero commended Swallow for welcoming investigations into his conduct, but said a person who values integrity would go one step further.
"There are few disappointments in politics worse than perceived, let alone real, corruption within law enforcement," he said. "John Swallow is the chief law enforcement officer in Utah, and precisely because I believe that he strives to be a man of integrity, he should step down."
Mero notes that though some of the accusations against Swallow have come from convicted felons, there's enough evidence to suggest something is wrong.
"Maybe it’s only his judgment, but even still, that is a big consideration for citizens who demand complete integrity from their top cop," Mero said.
Sutherland joins the Salt Lake Tribune, the Provo Daily Herald and the Spectrum in St. George in calling for Swallow to step down. At least one state lawmaker, Rep. Spencer Cox, R-Fairview, has also joined that chorus. Short of that, Cox and Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, say Swallow should take a paid leave of absence.
Swallow, a first-term Republican, is under investigation on several fronts in connection with a number of allegations, including that he helped broker a deal for indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson attempting to derail a federal investigation into his company.
Federal investigators are looking into the alleged deal, as well as allegations that Swallow promised special consideration to several businessmen in exchange for contributions to former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's re-election campaign.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings are jointly investigating whether Swallow and Shurtleff broke any state laws.
The Utah Lieutenant Governor's Office is in the process of appointing special counsel to examine allegations that Swallow violated state elections laws.
Swallow has denied any wrongdoing and said last month he has no plans to resign.
"It could be that everything John did was within the law and yet still unethical," Mero said.
Because politics involves money, ego and power, "even the best of us gets bedeviled by it all," he said.
"I can imagine that John Swallow, like so many other politicians, unfortunately, found himself working within a culture of corruption, even a subtle culture, that influenced him to think differently than he might otherwise think about his own personal ethics and proprieties," Mero said.