Consider a recent timeline of events associated with the Utah State House of Representatives’ investigation of Utah Attorney General John Swallow. AG Swallow has been accused of unethical activity and influence peddling.
July 17th Utah State House of Representatives authorizes a committee to investigate the Attorney General
July 17th (later in the day) Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart announced her choices of five Republican and four Democratic representatives to serve on the committee, with Rep. V. Lowry Snow as the committee chair.
July 18th Robert Gehrke, of the Salt Lake Tribune, wrote that Rep. Snow has connections with John Swallow accuser, Jeremy Johnson.
July 22nd, Rep. Snow and Speaker Lockhart met to discuss the matter. The content and outcome of that meeting have not been made public.
I wish that I could have been in that meeting. I would have asked Rep. Snow and Speaker Lockhart some questions about Rep. Snow’s selection. Since I wasn’t invited to attend the meeting, I’ll ask my questions here.
For Rep. Snow: Why didn’t you recuse yourself from serving on the investigative committee since documents exist that state you were Mr. Johnson’s attorney?
Rep. Snow is quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune article saying that he believes that he doesn’t believe it’s a conflict and that he can be impartial.
Okay, next question…
For Rep. Snow: Did you make Speaker Lockhart aware of your connections with Mr. Johnson prior to or at the time she considered you as a committee member? If not, why?
Gehrke’s article also states that Rep. Snow is willing to step down if House leadership thinks it’s a conflict. If he had informed Speaker Lockhart before accepting the committee chairmanship, she could have made that decision before forming the committee.
For Speaker Lockhart: If you were aware of Rep. Snow’s connection to Mr. Johnson prior to selecting him, why didn’t you consider this a risk to the investigative process?
To be fair, Speaker Lockhart has been very adamant that the House of Representative’s investigation of the Attorney General be done correctly and as openly as possible. Rep. Snow’s offer to step down, if asked, and Speaker Lockhart’s request for a meeting imply that the Speaker was unaware of the Snow-Johnson connection.
Since Rep. Snow did not previously divulge his connection with Mr. Johnson, his credibility, relative to the investigation, is in doubt. If he were to continue to chair the committee, what other information would he suppress?
In order to maintain the integrity investigation and the public trust, Speaker Lockhart must find another committee chair, one who doesn’t have connections with any of Mr. Swallow’s accusers and who hasn’t contributed to the Swallow campaign fund.
I hope that one of the Representatives meets those criteria.
**Guest Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the opinions of UPC. Want to submit your own? Click Here. We accept submissions from all Utah residents, regardless of political affiliation.