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SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert expressed on Tuesday his concern over the effects of the unresolved issues surrounding the five separate investigations of Utah Attorney General John Swallow, including a criminal case headed up by the FBI.
The overriding sentiment from the governor was frustration over Swallow's situation. So much so, that the governor said if he had the power to fire Swallow, he would.
"This is a cloud over Utah, and it needs to be removed. It's a distraction," Herbert said.
Herbert called the stream of allegations against Swallow frustrating for a lot of different reasons. He stopped short of calling for Swallow to resign. But, at an event promoting clean air in the state, Herbert told reporters that if he had the power, he would simply fire Swallow.
"I'm increasingly alarmed at everything that's bubbling out," Herbert said. "What I consider ethical challenges, ethical violations. I can say that if he worked for me with all that's coming up, he wouldn't be working for me today."
Herbert said he has serious worries over operations in the office of attorney general and its large staff.
Swallow has refused to step down in the midst of the allegations and the investigation. Those allegations include ethics violations, involving campaign donors, and that he tried to broker a deal for leniency on behalf of a man facing fraud charges.
Today the governor called for the criminal investigation — already nine months long — to be thorough, but to conclude quickly.
"It's too distracting, it's too distracting. We need to get resolution to this," Herbert said. "And I hope the investigations will accelerate, especially the Department of Justice, which needs to take the cloud off of Utah."
Late Tuesday, Swallow issued a short statement regarding the governor's comments.
"I have admired the governor for speaking out that due process should be followed and I am saddened he has grown impatient with the process," Swallow wrote. "What happened to me could happen to anybody, and I still believe we should put our faith in fairness, facts and evidence rather than allegations, rumors and speculation shared through the media."