Will Swallow get the last laugh?

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Just when you think it can’t get any worse . . .

When John Swallow finally resigned last week, there was little doubt that his decision had less to with his feigned indignation or unfair financial situation and more to do with the forthcoming Lt. Governor’s investigative report and his expectation of election law violation charges.

I was left scratching my head about his December 3rd departure date. Rarely, when a public figure resigns, do they give an almost-two-week notice. In this case, his notice would have been two days shy of two weeks.

Turns out the timing of Swallow’s resignation was even more devious and calculated than anyone realized.

If you believe Swallow and his spokesperson, Paul Murphy (watch for his resume to be posted soon), the delay in departure is so he can take accrued vacation time and still wrap things up. Oops, not so fast. As one of the 5-members of the Executive Branch, he doesn’t actually accrue vacation time. In fact, they get to take vacation whenever they want, no questions asked.

But here comes the kicker. According to the Salt Lake Tribune and Utah Policy, it just so happens that December 2nd makes exactly four-years to the date that Swallow will have been a state employee. According to the rules of the state pension fund, an employee is vested after four years of full-time employment.

Zing! And there we have it folks. According to reports, John Swallow will receive $12,000 a year from retirement age (65) until his death. Assuming he lives to 85, that’s $240,000 in taxpayer funds. Turns out money was at the root of his decision, just not quite the way he would have liked us to believe.

No doubt there will be lots of legal wrangling on both sides while this is all figured out. Does Swallow deserve a pension? Absolutely not. Will he get it? Maybe. Its going to take some really savvy election law experts to wade through the ever-growing contradictions over his departure, but one thing is certain, regardless of the outcome, the legislature has their work cut out for them to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Without campaign finance laws, meaningful ethics regulations, and reforms to our election law code, nothing will change.

When bad guys like Swallow take advantage, game the system, lie to the public, and circumvent the law, they don’t deserve the last laugh and they certainly don’t deserve a pension check for their efforts. The only thing they deserve is their well-earned place in history. And history will not look kindly on the short tenure of John Swallow.

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