EDITORIAL: The Worst Thing John Swallow Has Done

Utah Republican Attorney General John Swallow
Utah Republican Attorney General John Swallow

Our scandal-laden Attorney General has been accused of just about every type of corruption under the sun, from bribing others and taking bribes, to shaking down those he was prosecuting, to filing false campaign disclosures, to abuse while in office. But while everyone is talking about the various allegations, we’re not hearing much about the worst thing John Swallow has done. And this one isn’t an allegation—it’s fact.

There are few things our country has created more sacred than elections. They are the great equalizer, where every citizen of America has the opportunity to overthrow their government peacefully and decide the future of the nation, our states, our cities, and our communities. Elections are our version of term limits, where elected officials must prove to us that they have represented us and guided our government in a manner we deem appropriate. As such, there are few crimes we rate on such a dastardly scale as the tampering of an election.

That’s what happened on November 6, 2012. We were defrauded. Our election was defrauded.

To this point, Republican Attorney General John Swallow has vehemently denied all the accusations made against him, calling them “vindictive,” and “political.” He has even blamed the media for reporting on the seemingly never-ending string of new revelations about him.

But one thing he has not denied, nor can he, is that he knew the criminal investigation of himself by the FBI and the Department of Justice existed before the election. We also know the fact that his predecessor, Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, knew about the criminal investigation before the election.

Why were we not told?

What does it say about these two men that they did not have enough respect for the people of Utah, the morals, or the ethical motivation to let those who would soon be voting for the man that this season of scandals was bearing down on him.

We’re willing to give Swallow the benefit of the doubt that he truly does think he’s innocent. But innocence or guilt is irrelevant to the question at hand. Even without all the other accusations of corruption against him, a criminal investigation by the FBI and the DOJ of Utah’s Attorney General has disrupted the duties of the office, distracted our state, damaged—perhaps permanently—the faith and respect the people have for the office, and perhaps worst of all—their faith in good government and fair elections.

Regardless of whether it turns out Swallow committed a crime or not, he knew this foul explosion was coming, yet he chose to conceal it and place his political ambition for office above the needs of the people.

A moral man would have informed voters before the election.

A moral man would have respected the people.

A moral man would have recognized that the office of the Attorney General is too critical to the lives of Utahns to place his own desire to fill the seat above the ability for the office to function correctly.

A moral man would have dropped out of the race early, so he could be replaced on the ballot by someone else.

A moral man would not have betrayed us.

Some out there may believe in his innocence, and some out there may still have voted for him even if they knew. But that was our choice as voters to make, and John Swallow denied us that sacred right. To us, that seems the very definition of “violating the public’s trust.”

One other word of caution: Woe be unto any other elected official who we find out knew before November 6, 2012 and didn’t tell us. The wrath of cheated voters is great, and we find it very unlikely that a criminal investigation of one of Utah’s highest ranking members of government was completely unknown by the executive and legislative branches in Utah.

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