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SALT LAKE CITY — Lawyers for embattled Attorney General John Swallow have sent a letter to the Utah Legislature saying impeachment proceedings against him are unwarranted.
"This discussion about impeachment is based on innuendo and unsupported allegations in the press from indicted and convicted felons and a few political enemies of Mr. Swallow," attorneys Rod Snow and Jennifer James said.
The two attorneys also blame "unfair" media reports for the controversy.
The June 5 letter is addressed to John Fellows, who works as general counsel for the Legislature. It was also copied to John Pearce, an attorney for the governor's office. It came to light Friday in e-mail communications from Utah Political Watch.
The House Republican caucus is scheduled to discuss the impeachment process in an extended meeting next Wednesday. Under state law, impeachment begins in the House.
Jeremy Johnson, who said there was a plot to bribe (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, is the subject of an 86-count indictment for fraud and has been inconsistent with his statements, thus casting serious doubt on their credibility.
–June 5 letter from attorneys Rod Snow and Jennifer James
Swallow, a first-term Republican, is the subject of federal, state and county investigations, including some related to his alleged dealings with an imprisoned businessman and another under federal indictment. The lieutenant governor's office is looking into alleged election law violations. Two complaints for professional misconduct are pending with the Utah State Bar.
In the five-page letter, Snow and James rebut each of the allegations.
"Jeremy Johnson, who said there was a plot to bribe (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, is the subject of an 86-count indictment for fraud and has been inconsistent with his statements, thus casting serious doubt on their credibility," the letter says.
The letter says the events relating to Marc Session Jenson took place before Swallow worked in the attorney general's office. Nothing illegal occurred when Swallow, as a private attorney, met with Jenson, who is now in prison, according to the letter.
Snow and James also say the allegations don't rise to the standard of impeachment nor have they rendered Swallow ineffective as attorney general. Removing him for office for that reason, they wrote, would violate state law.
"The allegation that media storm and accusations has caused Mr. Swallow to be ineffective in his job do not, in our judgment, provide a basis for impeachment," the letter says. "The press should not be allowed to dictate legislative action."
Snow and James say lawmakers should let the federal and state investigations run their course.
"Unless the legislature want to enter into full-scale investigations of matters already under investigation by federal law enforcement agencies and under the review of the lieutenant governor's office, the legislature should await the results of those inquiries before considering whether further action is warranted," the letter states.