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SALT LAKE CITY — The race for Attorney General is starting to look like the Wild West. A pair of SuperPACs is trying to sway voters, but exactly who's behind them is extremely murky.
Both Sean Reyes and Deputy Attorney General John Swallow are running for Attorney General. But it's looking like SuperPACS, groups that can take unlimited funds and spent it with minimal disclosure, could tip the race.
The latest sign of their growing influence in the state is an attack ad about campaign funding, directed at Reyes, which claims that Reyes made cash payments to a former employer
Reyes says the allegations have no merit, and blames the ads on Swallow's campaign.
"People warned me. This is vintage John Swallow," Reyes said. People warned me before I got into the race this is how he operates every race. It's dirty politics. Smear tactics."
The ads are being run by a SuperPAC out Las Vegas, called Now of Never, Inc. But just who is funding it is not disclosed. The Swallow campaign says it's not them.
It's false. It's bad facts, bad grammar, bad punctuation. It looks like it was written by a 3rd grader.
–Paul Murphy on the mailer
Meantime, Swallow is being attacked in a mailer being sent out to 30,000 Republicans, saying he was the subject of an FBI investigation. A spokesman for the AG's office say Swallow was a cooperating witness of that probe, not a target.
"It's false. It's bad facts, bad grammar, bad punctuation," said Paul Murphy in the AG's office. "It looks like it was written by a 3rd grader."
The SuperPAC behind the Swallow attack mailer is called UTE PAC. The treasurer of that PAC is Dimitri Moumoulidis.
"More than identifying as a Democrat, I definitely see myself as a good government kind of person," Moumoulidis said.
He said that his group is not affiliated with any candidate, but he declined to say just who is funding it.
"That will all be disclosed down the road, but they're peolple that feel the same way that I do," he said.
University of Utah political scientist Tim Chambless says a recent Supreme Court decision called Citizens United has opened the door to big campaign money, with little to no transparency.
"So we have individuals working in the shadows. We don't know who they are and they're trying to influence political outcomes," Chambless said.
The Swallow campaign issued a press release this afternoon, calling the mailer directed at him "completely false" and "vicious."