Affidavit Suggests John Swallow Laundered $50K in Campaign Contributions for Sen. Mike Lee

Jun 5, 2014

A recently unsealed request for a search warrant in the investigation of former Attorney General John Swallow reveals that he might have helped Senator Mike Lee launder campaign donations.

Near the end of the 40-page affidavit Utah Department of Public Safety Agent Scott Nesbitt writes that businessman Jeremy Johnson says he helped launder about $50 thousand for Mike Lee’s 2010 Senate Campaign. He writes that Johnson said John Swallow, who was helping raise money for Lee’s campaign, asked him to give money to other people who would then take that money and donate it to Lee’s campaign. If the allegations are true, it would be a major violation of federal campaign finance laws.

Isaac Holyoak is with the Alliance For a Better Utah. He says, in light of this new information, first reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, that his organization is preparing to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Sen. Lee.

“Granted that’s an allegation, and that’s why we’re preparing this, but a judge saw that allegation as something that was worthwhile in approving a search warrant," he says. "So, the allegation has significant merit, we feel, and it should be brought to the attention of the FEC.”

Sen. Lee’s communications director, Brian Phillips, sent the following statement to KUER.

“At no time during or since the 2010 campaign, was Sen. Lee or anyone associated with the Lee campaign aware of any unlawful contributions to the Lee campaign. The documents obtained by investigators confirm that the scheme was known only to the two individuals who may have been involved.”

But Holyoak and the people at the Alliance for a Better Utah don’t think ignorance is a justifiable excuse.

“He is the head of his campaign," Holyoak says. "He’s a U.S. Senator. It’s not unreasonable for someone of that stature, and also for someone who’s coming from a small state like Utah, to know who his donor’s are and to understand where that money is coming from.”

There is no indication that there are any current investigations into Lee or his campaign. The actual intent of the request for search warrant was to obtain emails and other electronic files from Swallow’s campaign manager, Jessica Fawson.