Utah bribery case en­snares Reid Prose­cu­tors charge two state of­fi­cials in pay-to-play scheme

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY JOHN SOLOMON AND S.A. MILLER

Utah prose­cu­tors on Tues­day filed crim­i­nal charges against two for­mer state at­tor­neys gen­eral in a court fil­ing that makes tan­ta­liz­ing ref­er­ences to a pos­si­ble pay-toplay in­flu­ence scheme in­volv­ing U.S. Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid.

Utah County District At­tor­ney Sim Gill charged for­mer At­tor­neys Gen­eral John Swal­low and Mark Shurtl­eff with nu­mer­ous felony state crimes, in­clud­ing bribery, ac­cep­tance of il­le­gal gifts, ev­i­dence tam­per­ing and a “pat­tern of un­law­ful ac­tiv­ity.”

The charges were ex­pected for months, and both men were taken into cus­tody. Mr. Shurtl­eff served for many years as Utah’s top law en­force­ment of­fi­cial be­fore re­tir­ing in 2013 and was suc­ceeded by Mr. Swal­low, who re­signed in con­tro­versy af­ter just a year. Both are Repub­li­cans.

“This is a sad day for Utah,” said Gov. Gary R. Her­bert, who said that no mat­ter what hap­pens with the two men in court, it has be­come “a black eye for our state.”

Both Mr. Shurtl­eff and Mr. Swal­low main­tained their in­no­cence, ac­cord­ing to The As­so­ci­ated Press and other lo­cal news ac­counts.

While the charges are ma­jor news in Utah, it was the men­tion of two sen­a­tors — Mr. Reid, Ne­vada Demo­crat, and Sen. Or­rin G. Hatch, Utah Repub­li­can — that could reach Wash­ing­ton’s cor­ri­dors of power.

The documents de­tail ef­forts by a fed­er­ally in­dicted Utah busi­ness­man, Jeremy John­son, to se­cure meet­ings with Mr. Reid and Mr. Hatch, where Mr. John­son hoped to en­list their help in fight­ing off an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Federal Trade Com­mis­sion.

Prose­cu­tors re­vealed one email where Mr. Swal­low told Mr. Shurtl­eff that Mr. John­son was seek­ing a meet­ing with Mr. Hatch about the FTC.

A spokesman for Mr. Hatch said that Mr. Shurtl­eff and Mr. Swal­low duped the se­na­tor into tak­ing a meet­ing with Mr. John­son, but he never in­ter­vened with the FTC.

A month af­ter that email, Mr. Swal­low sent an email to Mr. John­son say­ing he had spo­ken with an­other busi­ness­man, Richard Rawle, who held him­self out as a go-be­tween who could reach Mr. Reid “through a con­tact per­son.”

Ac­cord­ing to the court doc­u­ment, Mr. Swal­low told Mr. John­son “the price to ob­tain ac­cess to Rawle’s con­tact per­son likely ‘won’t be cheap.’” Days later, in an Oct. 7, 2010, email mes­sage with the sub­ject line of “Se­na­tor Reid,” Mr. John­son wrote to Mr. Rawle ask­ing about the con­nec­tion.

“I talked with John Swal­low, and he said you might have some con­nec­tions to Reid that might be help­ful to us,” Mr. John­son wrote in the email to Mr. Rawle, cit­ing his prob­lems with the FTC.

The court records show Mr. John­son sub­se­quently wired money to an ac­count con­trolled by Mr. Rawle to­tal­ing $250,000, and that Mr. Rawle sub­se­quently sent pay­ments of $8,500 and $15,000 to Mr. Swal­low from that same ac­count.

The court records make no fur­ther men­tion of whether a Reid meet­ing ever oc­curred.

How­ever, Mr. John­son has said that af­ter he was in­dicted by federal au­thor­i­ties, he was told the money was sup­posed to be spent se­cur­ing Mr. Reid’s help in the FTC is­sue.

Tues­day’s court records are the first to of­fi­cially link Mr. John­son’s ef­forts to get a meet­ing with Mr. Reid to the ex­change of money.

Mr. Reid’s of­fice has long dis­missed the al­le­ga­tions as non­sense, and on Tues­day his spokesman re­fused to an­swer ques­tions from The Wash­ing­ton Times about the in­dict­ments, say­ing the mat­ters had al­ready been cov­ered in pre­vi­ous reporting by the paper.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Utah prose­cu­tors filed crim­i­nal charges against two for­mer state at­tor­neys gen­eral, mak­ing ref­er­ence to a pos­si­ble pay-to-play in­flu­ence scheme in­volv­ing U.S. Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid.

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