The Utah House of Representatives voted to form a committee to investigate Utah Attorney General John Swallow today.
The committee will consist of 9 members appointed by the Speaker of the House. The resolution gives those members authority to investigate allegations of misconduct against the Attorney General that took place any time after he became the deputy attorney general in December of 2009. They can only investigate events that took place before that time if a majority of the committee members vote that it is relevant to his ability to serve. Republican Representative Jim Nielson of Bountiful was one of only three people to vote against the resolution. He says even with those limitations the scope is too broad and doesn’t meet constitutional standards.
“I cannot support this piece of legislation without a clear delineation of what it is limited to," he says. "That’s what this attempts to do and without it I would consider this a witch hunt.”
The house committee will not be tasked with making a recommendation of whether or not they should impeach him. They are only to report on the facts that they find during their investigation. Because of this, Speaker Lockhart says the scope of the investigation is exactly what it should be.
“And when you try to mix the language of the Constitution, as it relates to impeachment, to what we’re trying to do here I think that’s when you run into problems," she says. "We’re not talking about impeachment. We’ve decided not to go down that road at this point. We’ve decided to have an investigative committee.”
Lockhart says she will try and name the members of the committee by July 17th. She expects the committee to yield some information by the end of this year. Legislative staff estimates that the cost of the investigation will be between 500 thousand and 3 million dollars.