Through hours of damning revelations on the first day of the House’s presentation on its findings from its five-month probe into former Utah Attorney General John Swallow, lead investigator Steven Reich told committee members—in the most professional and polite way possible—that Swallow's credibility during the investigation had gone from suspicious to, by the time of his resignation, pants-on-fire.
The first day of the investigators' presentation paints Swallow as, at best, being cursed with the ability to destroy all technology he touches, and, at worst, guilty of criminal obstruction of justice—a term investigator Reich said he would leave up to prosecutors to decide. Here's a breakdown of the top five hits Swallow's credibility took today.
Does the Camera Unfairly Add 10 Pounds of Guilt?
While Swallow was videotaped as part of the investigation conducted by the Lieutenant Governor's Office, Swallow's attorneys told Reich that being videotaped would be a “deal-breaker” when it comes to cooperating with the investigation.
Even though the request came after Swallow's resignation from office, he declined, despite having previously pledged to fully cooperate with the House investigation.
We Forgot to Mention These Records Were Fabricated
One of the biggest bombshells from the committee's report was the discovery that Swallow and counsel provided information to House investigators aimed at corroborating Swallow's claim that the $23,500 Swallow had received from Richard Rawle was for consulting work on a Nevada business deal involving a cement plant, and not, as indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson has said, for passing a bribe to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., so that he would derail a federal investigation into Johnson’s business.
Johnson said that Swallow helped set up an arrangement for Johnson to pass a bribe through Rawle to Reid in the amount of $250,000. Swallow has maintained the money was always for lobbying purposes, and that though he received funds from Rawle in 2011 through an entity called P-Solution, the payment was for consulting work Swallow did.
Reich explained that Swallow and his counsel had proof that it was for consulting, but that initially they refused to allow the investigators to have copies of this evidence, and instead only agreed to let them view the evidence in a conference room.
The evidence included invoices for the work Swallow did, as well as two day planners, one for 2010 and one for 2011. The calendars included notes made by Swallow about work he’d done on the cement project and hours he’d worked.
The investigators, however, soon had suspicions about the invoices, which, among other issues, lacked dates. And when compared against Swallow's state time cards, the calendars didn’t quite add up—for example, according to Swallow’s Jan. 24, 2011, time sheet, he worked 12 hours at the Attorney General's Office and then, according to his calendar, knocked out another 12 hours working on the cement consulting project—a 24-hour marathon of taking care of business.
Investigators were shown this evidence in mid-October, but it wasn't until after a month of pestering Swallow's attorneys about the discrepancies that they were told the calendar information and the invoices had been created in 2012, not when the work was supposed to have happened.
“No one said to us, ‘By the way, these docs weren't created until 2012,’” Reich said.
Technology is Confusing, Am I Right?
One issue that vexed investigators was tracking down e-mails that disappeared from Swallow's computers in 2010. Both Swallow and Attorney General's Office spokesman Paul Murphy told the public that Swallow had lost the e-mails when the state e-mail migrated in October 2012, and it was a claim Swallow repeated often publicly.
But, according to an affidavit by the Attorney General's Office IT specialist, Charles Earl, Swallow could not have lost those e-mails due to the migration; they could only have been manually deleted, through a process that would have required someone to accidentally highlight thousands of e-mails, then click through multiple prompts before permanently deleting the e-mails.
Swallow was made aware of what his tech guy had sworn to the day before he resigned. Also that night, Swallow's attorney informed Reich that Swallow actually was aware that he had lost the 2010 e-mails “prior” to July 2012—months before the state e-mail migration, meaning that all that talk about losing the e-mails in the state migration in October 2012 was not accurate.
“This change in Mr. Swallow's story is an example of the way his version of the truth has shifted and morphed after being confronted by us with evidence that undermines his account of things,” Reich said.
As for who could have deleted the e-mails, only three people had access: the IT specialist, Swallow's state secretary and Swallow himself.
But Swallow's bad luck with technology was only beginning.
Taxpayer-Funded Evidence Deletion
As has been previously reported, Swallow has had incredibly bad luck with his tech devices, having lost his e-mails, experiencing the crash of his personal computer, and losing an external hard drive, which, he says, fell out of a briefcase while he was flying from Phoenix to Salt Lake City.
In January 2013, when news broke of Swallow's alleged wrongdoings, it was learned that his personal computer had crashed. But what Reich discovered was that Swallow had brought his personal computer into the office July 30, 2012, and asked taxpayer-funded IT specialist Earl to replace the hard drive, since it had apparently been broken.
And apparently Swallow was so satisfied with the job his state employee had done to fix his personal computer that, 11 days later, he had the same employee wipe the hard drives of his state laptop and desktop. The reason was that, as an LDS bishop, Swallow had personal information about church members on the computers that shouldn't have been on state devices, and instead of deleting just those specific e-mails, Swallow decided that all the hard drives should be wiped clean.
IT specialist Earl reported that when Swallow explained his reasoning, he seemed “nervous” and “anxious.”
Swallow Will Likely Never Enjoy Another Krispy Kreme Donut
Reich pointed out that the widespread evidence fabrication and deletion all occurred shortly after an April 2012 meeting with indicted businessman Johnson at an Orem Krispy Kreme donut shop.
It was there that Johnson tape-recorded his conversation with Swallow and told him that the government was looking for a politician involved in his business dealings.
After that meeting, it was only matter of months before Swallow was soon buying pre-paid cell phones, losing a year’s worth of e-mails, seeing his personal computer malfunction twice, having his state devices wiped, and having records altered to explain work he’d done in 2010 and 2011.
Reich apologized for the cost of the probe—which at the time of resolution had reached $2.3 million—but also explained that additional costs resulted from Swallow's very deficient cooperation with the investigation.
“Let's assume that John Swallow is the most technologically unlucky human being on the face of the Earth—let's just assume that,” Reich said. “Why didn't he just come forward in the beginning and tell this committee what happened? Why is it that we had to drag every piece out?”
Reich added that Swallow's behavior was calculated and “consistent with someone who has hunkered down and made a judgment that the only way to get through this is to wait and see what this committee finds and then come up with an explanation.”