Why John Swallow Should Resign Even If He Did Nothing Illegal

If a call for for Attorney General John Swallow to resign is based on a presumption of his guilt then Mr. Swallow is right that that we should wait until the investigations into the various allegations against him are completed. I think it is time to make the argument for why he should resign despite the assumption that he is innocent. By choosing not to resign the Attorney General is proving beyond any doubt that he is less interested in what’s good for the people of Utah than he is in his own benefit. If felt it was time to make this argument publicly after hearing Mr. Swallow on the radio talking about how he and the others in the Attorney General’s office are getting up and going to work every day despite all the allegations against him. I absolutely believe that to be true but it illustrates why John Swallow has no business in public office – he is clearly not interested in what is best for the people he is supposed to be serving.

John Swallow essentially admits this in this article from the Deseret News.

“I’m a little handicapped right now because of the situation I’m in. I get that. People say, ‘That’s not fair. You ought to leave.’ I can’t control the situation I’m in, and if I felt I did something that wrong, I would leave,” Swallow said. “But I’m not about to walk out of this office because people make allegations that aren’t true.”

As evidenced in that statement, Mr. Swallow is making his decisions based on his personal interests. The only reason that he would resign is if he were convicted of illegal activity. Mr. Swallow contends that he has done nothing illegal and I make no pretense that I know otherwise. The way I see it there are two reasons for him to step down even if he is innocent. Either of them should be sufficient cause for a true statesman to step down from office – at least temporarily.

  1. There are a number of statements that Mr. Swallow is known to have made – such as in his now infamous campaign telephone call – that he defends as being legal and yet clearly display judgement not worthy of a good public servant. Having shown such blatant poor judgement, a statesman would step aside and take the time to reestablish the credibility of his judgement before trying to take on a high-profile public office.
  2. No matter how hard he and his deputies work, the sheer volume of complaints against Mr. Swallow – and especially the fact that those complaints have resulting in multiple ongoing investigations by various official organizations – siphons off much of the time, energy, and efficacy of his office such that the people of Utah are not getting the kind of representation they deserve out of the Attorney General’s office. Again, a statesman would step aside – regardless of whether he did anything wrong – when the allegations against him were distracting and diluting his ability to serve effectively.

If Mr. Swallow were making his decisions based on the interests of the people of Utah his statement would have looked a lot more like this:

“I’m a little handicapped right now because of the situation I’m in. I get that. I and my deputies get up every day and work hard for the people of Utah but I recognize that the allegations made against me limit the effectiveness of all our work. The people of Utah and those working in the Attorney General’s office deserve an unencumbered chief legal officer therefore I have decided to step down as Attorney General.

“I sincerely hope that after the investigations are complete and my innocence has been established I will have another opportunity to serve the people of this great state.”

The real reason why he is not resigning is that whether he is innocent or guilty John Swallow will not materially benefit from resigning. If he were interested in the good of the people he was elected to serve he would resign because it is abundantly clear that regardless of his innocence or guilt the people of Utah would be better off with a new Attorney General.

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