Attorney General to Release Records As Pressure Continues to Build

Embattled Utah Republican Attorney General, John Swallow
Embattled Utah Republican Attorney General, John Swallow

The Utah Attorney General John Swallow’s Office announced Wednesday night they are working with the Special Legislative Investigative Committee to provide records previously held back.

Swallow’s original data, including certain emails and calendars of meetings, was lost sometime in late 2012 when Swallow’s state issued desktop computer, laptop, cell phone, as well as his personal computer and cell, mysteriously suffered massive data losses. In addition, Swallow’s hard drive suffered a physical failure at roughly the same time.

Swallow’s office was able to take images of the hard drives that suffered data loss—images that forensic computer specialists could, in theory, use to recover lost data. However, his counsel withheld the images, claiming there is sensitive information on the imaged hard drives related to citizens health and tax records and allowing investigators to review the data would put this information at risk which could violate federal health care privacy laws.

Investigators on the Special Legislative Investigative Committee contend they would review any records privately before entering them into the public record and that any private records not directly related to the investigation would not be released.  Any document from Swallow’s office, according to Steven Reich, head of the legislatures investigation, would go through a private subpoena process, and documents which are questionably private would be reviewed by a judge prior to public release.

In what appears to be a compromise, the counsels for both the Attorney General and the Special Legislative Investigative Committee came together to jointly request that a judge approve a new order that lets investigators review records, but provide for the protection of confidential information.

The compromise should assist the investigative committee’s business and save the taxpayers some money, however it is unknown if all of the lost data can be recovered by computer experts. The revised request could be approved by a judge as early as today.

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