On Thursday afternoon, Utah Attorney General John Swallow (R) announced he would step down, amidst allegations that he violated campaign finance laws, breached attorney-client privilege, and bribed federal officials.
Swallow has been under investigation by the state elections office, two county attorneys, the Utah House, the FBI, the Department of Justice and the Utah State Bar. He has denied all allegations, but said he was stepping down because he could no longer tolerate the toll of the investigations. But sources told the Deseret News that he agreed to step down in exchange for dropping criminal charges.
Swallow won the spot by a gaping 30-point margin in November 2012, and with much more campaign money than his Democratic opponent. But after investigations followed, a recent poll found that 71 percent of Utah voters believed he should resign. Since taking office, Swallow has argued that the state’s same-sex marriage ban is not discriminatory because both men and women can marry one another, and that children suffer with same-sex parents. While serving as deputy attorney general in 2011, he insisted that Utah was no longer bound by the Affordable Care Act after one federal judge in Florida said it was unconstitutional, and campaigned on his commitment to declaring the law unconstitutional. Also while serving as deputy attorney general, he sued Barack Obama for access to public lands for oil and gas exploration.
The attorney general that replaces him will be selected by Gov. Gary Herbert (R) from between three Republican-picked candidates until a special election can be held next November. In an odd proclamation that left his own guilt uncertain, he said Thursday, “If I truly am innocent, as I claim I am,” Swallow said. “Today is truly a sad day in Utah because an election has been overturned.”