The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here.
In the ongoing scandal surrounding our state attorney general, John Swallow, the Salt Lake Tribune political cartoonist, Pat Bagley, has perhaps depicted it best. In a cartoon printed in the November 5th edition of the paper, Bagley drew 7 caricatures of Swallow, each providing an excuse for where all of Swallow’s electronic data disappeared to.
As well as Swallow’s e-calendar, state desktop computer, state laptop computer, state handheld device, Swallow’s home computer and Swallow’s cell phone.
Someone take John Swallow’s dog to the vet!
The truth is, Bagley’s satirical drawing does a great job drawing attention to an important element of Swallow’s conduct and character: his immaturity.
Swallow’s immaturity presents itself in a variety of ways. One of those ways is a lack of personal responsibility.
For being nominated by the political party that prides itself, however incorrectly, on privileging personal responsibility, Swallow has not been capable of owning up to his behavior at all. Swallow sees himself as the victim of a series of accidents. For example, after the Alliance for a Better UTAH filed a petition with the Lt. Governor’s office alleging Swallow violated state election law, Swallow insisted the missing information was just an accident. However, shouldn’t the people of Utah expect their Attorney General to get the details right? What other details has he missed?
In addition to his administrative immaturity, there is also the issue of his legal and ethical immaturity.
Regarding his legal immaturity: Even though in January of this year Better UTAH sent litigation hold requests, asking the Governor and AG to preserve all records in the AG office, Swallow managed to keep deleting most of his electronic communication until late this summer. The special investigator for the House Investigation Committee has called it the worst destruction of records he’s ever seen.
“The scope of the data loss here is not anything I have seen before and something I find deeply worrisome,” said Steven Reich in a Salt Lake Tribune article. There are some who are comparing the missing data to Nixon’s infamous 18 missing minutes. Any first year law student would know that tampering with potential evidence in an investigation is a serious breach of sound legal practice.
And lastly, there is his ethical immaturity. According to reporting by the Salt Lake Tribune’s Robert Gehrke, Swallow has been raking in money from shady suspects over the last few months. Even though he is collecting the money as campaign donations, political experts seem to agree that he is likely using the money to pay for legal fees.
And where is that money coming from? Of the 156,000 dollars in donations that he’s recently raised, about 10 percent is from the ethically suspect payday lending industry, and another 25,000 dollars came from a former CEO who did jail time for tax evasion. Utahns should be concerned that so many John Swallow’s business associates and campaign donors have either done jail time, or are currently in jail.
Whether it’s personal immaturity, administrative or legal immaturity, or even ethical immaturity, it all come downs to the same conclusion: John Swallow is too immature to continue holding office. He should do the right thing and resign.