- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah’s elections office recommended dozens of changes to state laws Tuesday during a presentation to lawmakers about former Attorney General John Swallow.

The Utah lieutenant governor’s office, which oversees elections, presented the report based on their four-month probe of Swallow last year.

Republican Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox announced in November that his office found Swallow likely violated campaign-disclosure laws during his 2012 campaign.

Swallow deliberately withheld information about business interests and tens of thousands of dollars in income from his campaign documents last year, Cox’s office said.

He also tried to influence a probe into the matter by altering witness statements and apparently destroying documents, the office said.

Cox declined to pursue penalties because Swallow had announced his resignation.

Swallow and his attorney Rod Snow denied the allegations in the report. Swallow said he consulted an attorney to help him prepare his documents.

Cox’s office and special counsel that assisted the investigation formally presented their findings Tuesday to a committee of House lawmakers that’s been investigating a host of allegations surrounding Swallow since August.

The lieutenant governor’s office and its investigators also recommended changes to state law and election forms in light of the campaign investigation. The changes include expanding the definitions of business and other outside interests, such as second jobs and family trusts.

Cox said hopefully the changes would prevent similar problems and questions about candidates in the future.

“The purpose behind these disclosures is so that the people of the state of Utah know who the candidates are and know what their background is,” Cox told reporters Tuesday. “We shouldn’t try to hide these things.”

Rep. Jim Dunnigan, a Taylorsville Republican who chairs the House committee, said lawmakers will consider the proposals and make a recommendation to the Legislature about changes to the law.

The committee is expected to issue a formal report next month.

Swallow, a Republican, cited the toll of the multiple investigations when he announced his resignation in November.

He denied allegations lodged against him, including accusations he arranged a bribe and offered businessmen protection in return for favors.

After Swallow stepped down in December, the Republican-controlled Utah House decided to wind down its fact-finding investigation of Swallow.

Dunnigan said the investigation has cost more than $3 million.

Special counsel working for lawmakers reported in December that Swallow’s 2012 attorney general campaign obscured donations from the payday loan industry that were funneled through various groups.

Investigators also said Swallow intentionally deleted electronic records and fabricated other documents to throw off any inquiry into his dealings with businessmen.

Snow, Swallow’s personal lawyer, said the investigator’s report was one-sided and unfair.

Several lawmakers on the investigative committee said late last month that based on their findings, they would have backed efforts to impeach Swallow had he not resigned.

Beyond the investigations by the Utah House and the lieutenant governor’s office, two Utah county attorneys, with the assistance of the FBI, are in the middle of a criminal investigation of Swallow and others.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office and the Davis County Attorney’s Office already have filed criminal charges against an associate of Swallow as part of that probe.

Swallow, who has not been charged with any crimes, was also the subject of two complaints at the Utah State Bar last year. Both were later dismissed.

In September, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it was closing a federal bribery probe without filing any charges against Swallow.

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Follow Michelle Price at https://twitter.com/michellelprice .

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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