Bryan Schott's Political BS: Forced Recusal | Buzz Blog

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bryan Schott's Political BS: Forced Recusal

Posted By on July 26, 2013, 11:00 AM

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If the John Swallow investigation ends up with his impeachment by the House, will there be enough Senators to have a trial? ---

That’s a very real possibility, if some members of the upper chamber can’t keep their yaps shut about the investigation. Why do you think Senate President Wayne Niederhauser has been so explicit about the Senators keeping quiet? Forced recusal is a very real possibility for some in this case. Sure, it’s very remote, but it’s a possibility.

So far, Sen. Stuart Reid has said he doesn’t know if he can be impartial in the case. Sen. Jim Dabakis and Todd Weiler have made comments about Swallow (they have since dialed back their criticism), and Sen. Howard Stephenson said he was “disappointed” the House is moving forward with their investigation.

There are 29 Senators. If the House votes to impeach Swallow, the Senate will be the jury. It will take 20 Senators to convict and force the Attorney General from office. If some of the members of the upper house are forced to the sidelines because they’ve compromised their impartiality publicly, it will make it that much harder to get a positive result.

And, that would be a true horror show for Utah’s Republican majority on the Hill -- for Swallow to be impeached by the House, but remain in office because the Senate could not vote to convict him. How would voters react?

I can tell you how they would react -- they would be ready to tar and feather any GOP candidate they could get their hands on.

That’s why this whole process gets more dangerous for the Senate as time rolls on.

The longer it takes, the more opportunity Senators are going to have to opine on John Swallow. The press will ask them. The public will ask them. Social media is an ever-present temptation/danger for them.

Some on the Hill think the ultimate outcome of the Swallow investigation -- impeachment or exoneration -- needs to be completely above-board. “Integrity” is the word I keep hearing. Any hint that this is a “kangaroo court,”  where the decision is predetermined , will sour the court of public opinion.

Some on the Hill say, if the Senate had to vote on whether to convict John Swallow today, the vote would be extremely close. So close that the Democrats might actually have some say if it gets that far. There are 24 Republicans and 5 Democrats. That means there can only be four defectors on the GOP side. Any more, and the minority party gets a huge bargaining chip.

But, that eventuality is far down the road. And we are just starting a long trip with the House in the driver’s seat, and the Senate sitting in the back, hopefully, being quiet and taking in the scenery.

Bryan Schott is managing editor of and He is an award-winning journalist who has covered politics in Utah for more than 15 years. He also blogs at

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