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20 years


Reid implicated in Utah bribery scandal
Two former Utah Attorney Generals were arrested on an array of bribery and corruption charges on Tuesday, July 15. The allegations stemmed from a too-close relationship with a few too many Utah businessmen. It would have remained a Utah story except their pay-to-play political influence scheme reached out and touched two US Senators, making a local/regional news blurb a national story.

The Utah officials arrested at their homes were John Swallow, who was elected Attorney General of Utah in Nov., 2012 and served from Jan. 7, 2013 until his resignation on Dec. 3, 2013 and his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff. Shurtleff served from 2001-13. Swallow and Shurtleff had more political clout in Utah than most State governors. Swallow-ShurtletettWhen Swallow stepped down after being privately advised he was the subject of an FBI investigation, Gov.Gary Herbert appointed Sean Reyes to replace Swallow, saying, "This is a sad day for Utah," adding that no matter what happens when Shurtleff and Swallow have their day in court, "The entire situation, regardless of how the legal process plays out, is a black eye for our State." Accusations about Swallow began shortly after he was elected Attorney General with allegations about his predecessor commencing shortly thereafter.

Court records reveal that John Swallow faces 13 charges including felony bribery. Shurtleff faces 10 counts that also include felony bribery. Just on the most serious charges, both men face 15 years in prison. When Swallow posted bail and walked out of jail, he said he had known for a few weeks that something like this was going to happen. "I absolutely maintain my innocence. This finally gives us he opportunity to respond back." Shurtleff insisted the charges leveled against him were completely bogus and were motivated by the Salt Lake County District Attorney, Simajit Singh Gill. SimGillIn the FBI office in Salt Lake City, where he fed the media a story about payoffs including gold coins, vacations to swank resorts and other luxurious gifts.Then he threw in the caveat that brought the national media on board. Sen. Orrin Hatch [R-UT] and Sen. Harry Reid [D-NV]. Shurtlett, also a Republican, said the charges leveled by Gill came from a politically-charged investigation in an election year where Gill needed every vote he could get in order to get re-elected. Gill had been fighting a back-and-forth race for District Attorney against former DA Lohra Miller. He won the office from her in 2006 by hiring a private investigator to follow her around looking for dirt he could use to smear her. He did the same thing in 2010 in their third rematch.

Gill claimed that admissions by a Utah businessmen, Richard Rawle, about another Utah businessman, from St. George, Utah, Jeremy Johnson who owned a chain of payday loan companies that were then being targeted by the FBI in Operation Choke Point (which was a ruse to kill the retail gun business in the United States by choking off the lines of credit of the gun manufacturers, gun distributors and, of course, gun retailers) had bribed two Mormon senators, Orrin Hatch [R-UT] and Harry Reid [D-NV], to kill a federal investigation of his payday loan business. To make Operation Choke Point look legitimate, the FBI included porn stores, stripper clubs and payday loan companies. Operation Choke Point put a world of hurt on the revenue stream of Johnson by investigating every transaction his company made, looking for something if not illegal, at least improper, in order to leverage the banks providing Johnson's credit lines to stop doing business with him. Johnson decided to do something about it.

Rawle said he told to Gill that he advised Johnson he could intercede and get the investigation dropped for the right kind of money. Johnson wired Rawle $250,000 to get the job done. Sen.ReidRecords show that Gill wired Swallow two checks totaling $23,500 because Swallow assured Johnson that he personally knew Sen. Reid and could arrange a meeting with him. . Sen.HatchRawle claimed that he made donations to the election campaigns of both Orrin Hatch and Harry Reid without publicly revealing the amounts sent to either candidate. It is likely that legal campaign donations were made to both Senators. since Sen. Hatch admitted that he did meet privately with Johnson, but once he learned that he had been duped by Shurtlett and Swallow about the nature of the meeting, he abruptly ended it and did not speak to Johnson again. Rawle, the only intercessor between Johnson, Hatch and Reid, and the only person privy to conversations concerning the purported bribes, died in December, 2012, leaving no witnesses to wrongdoing on the part of either Hatch or Reid although Hatch admitted to having a conversation about Johnson with Shurtleff advising him he could not help his friend.Rawle When Johnson found out that his problem was not going to go away from the senatorial help he was promised didn't materialize, he called Swallow a few weeks before the 2010 election and asked for a refund of at least part of the quarter million dollars he paid to have the government's investigation of his payday loan company quashed, Swallow told him needed to talk to Rawle, the man he paid. When no refund was forthcoming, Johnson began spreading rumors about both Swallow and Shurtlett being on the take, not realizing the net he case would also snare him. Rawle escaped the bulk of the federal investigation. Dying of cancer, he was not expected to live more than a week, on Dec. 5, 2012, Rawle signed a confession, absolving Swallow of complicity. He died two days later.

While the evidence suggests whatever "contribution" was offered to Hatch was declined; and whatever "contribution" was offered to Reid was graciously accepted because Reid was in the toughest reelection campaign of his life with challenger Sharron Angle (who legally won Reid's seat although she lost it in a rigged electronic vote count). Sadly, and for whatever it's worth, once again, you have my two cents worth on this subject. Until next time...

 

 

 

 

Just Say No
Copyright 2009 Jon Christian Ryter.
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