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SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah issued a statement Friday confirming Attorney General John Swallow is being investigated by the Department of Justice and the FBI.
Neither the DOJ nor the U.S. Attorney's Office typically confirm investigations, but an exception was made "because of the extraordinary public interest in this matter, we want to reassure the public that we, along with the FBI, have been investigating the allegations and will follow the facts of the law in doing so," according to the statement.
The statement said none of the federal agencies involved will have further comment.
Swallow had asked the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate allegations he helped broker a deal to bribe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to stop a federal investigation into a St. George businessman, allegations he strongly denied.
The businessman, Jeremy Johnson, faces fraud charges in federal court related to his Internet marketing company. Swallow is alleged to have put Johnson in touch with his former employer, Richard Rawle the owner of a payday lending company.
Swallow earned more than $23,000 in consulting fees from Rawle while chief deputy attorney general, but said he was not part of any scheme or wrongdoing. His spokesman, Paul Murphy, has said Swallow has no plans to resign.
The acknowledgement of an ongoing investigation comes the day after Gov. Gary Herbert called for the establishment of an ethics panel to deal with complaints about the state's elected executives, including the attorney general.
Herbert also said the public needs to wait for the results of a criminal investigation before looking into the ethics of Swallow's activities. The governor endorsed a legislative proposal to bar the attorney general and his or her staff from outside employment.
Earlier in the week, Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright said in a statement that Swallow had "at the very least" made mistakes and called for a series of common sense ethics reforms, including a new ethics panel.