House Investigation Discusses Post-Swallow Campaign Finance Reform

John Swallow, Utah's former Republican Attorney General who resigned from office as legislative and criminal investigations swirled.
John Swallow, Utah’s former Republican Attorney General who resigned from office as legislative and criminal investigations swirled.

The House Special Investigation Committee, which presided over the House’s probe of former Attorney General John Swallow, gave its recommendations this afternoon on how to prevent the corruption scandal from repeating. Due to time constraints, however, it was only able to discuss one of its four recommendations.

“2014FL-1157 – Special Investigation of Campaign Finance Issues” covers several aspects from “In-Kind” donations to campaigns, income reporting, and adjustment of financial reporting for those who own businesses.

The first proposal addresses and defines “in-kind” donations, which are not currently defined by state campaign finance law. Public reporting would be required for any assistance given to a political campaign “with [the] coordination” of the campaign. The same proposal also requires the disclosure of all expenditures made by campaign consultants for campaign material. Had these laws been in place pre-2012, many of the mailers, flyers and other campaign materials put out on Swallow’s behalf by consultants would have been publicly disclosed as coming from his campaign.

In addition, the investigative committee addressed conflicts of interest for not only the candidate, but their family as well. On Swallow’s initial campaign disclosures, he placed many of his own businesses under his wife’s name, in an attempt to avoid disclose the finances and deeds of those companies from the public. Swallow also placed a trust in the name of his daughter, even though she did not manage the funds.

Finally, the last change within the first of the four recommendations would require the public disclosure of any income over $5,000, regardless of where it comes from. Rep Mckell (Republican – Spanish Fork), felt that the number seemed a bit high for the disclosure, seeing how most of the fees paid to Swallow were between $1,000 and $5,000.  McKell also address the issue of multiple fees culminating into $5,000 or the exchange of debit cards, gold coins and independent contractors.  Thomas Vaughn, a lawyer contracted by the state to handle the House’s investigation, said there are many instances that are hard to trace and hard to legislate. “We can plug up a bunch of these holes but we’re never going to plug them all,” said Vaughn.

Dunnigan reported that despite Swallow’s home computer’s hard drive being mysteriously erased, more than 1,300 emails were recovered—at a cost of $130,000 to the taxpayers.


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