I was listening to Doug Wright this morning talking about the John Swallow situation and I found myself laughing at the linguistic gymnastics he was engaged in trying to discuss the situation without suggesting that impeachment might be the proper course of action to untangle the mess that Mr. Swallow has created.
I can’t decide whether the verbal somersaults were a result of Mr. Wright trying to appear unbiased while secretly agreeing with the Eagle Forum that impeachment should be reserved as a tool we use after we know an official is guilty of serious crimes such as the FBI might investigate or if it was simply a result of Mr. Wright not understanding that being personally impartial does not require the pretense that the facts of the situation be impartial – as if there are facts in favor of Mr. Swallow the way there are so many facts that clearly demonstrate that a legislative investigation is already warranted. Of course there are many unproven allegations out there but there are enough allegations backed up with enough evidence to clearly warrant an investigation by the House.
Here is my unbiased (and unvarnished) opinion. Unless the House is able to investigate and prove that the many emails, recordings, and receipts that we already have in relation to Mr. Swallow’s interactions with Mr. Jensen and Mr. Johnson were fabricated then Mr. Swallow has clearly violated the public trust and should not hold any position of public trust – even if everything he did was technically legal as Mr. Swallow obviously believes (which is why he insists on directing our focus to the existing investigations by the FBI – which necessarily cannot address the issue of public trust).
I don’t know if John Swallow’s attorneys are honest (like many people) in mistakenly conflating the opening of impeachment proceedings with the potential outcome of conviction and removal from office or if they are simply perpetuating that misconception in the hopes of protecting their client. Either way, it is once again time to try to clear up that misconception.
The attitude from Mr. Swallow’s attorneys is quite clear in their letter:
“This discussion about impeachment is based on innuendo and unsupported allegations in the press from indicted and convicted felons and a few political enemies of Mr. Swallow,” attorneys Rod Snow and Jennifer James said.
I would expect exactly that attitude from any attorney regarding their own client. The problem is that it misrepresents the situation. Some of the allegations do come from indicted and convicted felons but beyond those indicted and convicted felons the allegations are also coming from many others – not just “a few political enemies.” They may choose to describe everyone who has made allegations as a political enemy but the number of people making allegations can hardly be quantified as “few.” Continue reading
Curt Bentley has an excellent post in which he discusses the issue of reforming the caucus system. I really appreciate the methodical approach he has taken to examine the issue. I completely agree with each of his guiding principles and while I suspect I am more comfortable with the caucus system in its current form than he seems to be, I also want to see it strengthened through some reforms that will make it better at promoting voter participation and issue-centric campaigns. I agree with his assessment of what the caucus system does well and with his conclusion that dumping the caucus system entirely is not the way to go. As for his assessment of what the caucus system doesn’t do well, I have some thoughts I’d like to share and I sincerely hope that Curt and others will share their feedback on those thoughts. Continue reading
When the news began about accusations against John Swallow his first response was to dismiss the allegations based on the tainted source from which they sprang and then duck his head and send out lots of emails about what “he” was doing for the state. When the volume and variety of allegations increased Mr. Swallow adopted a new standard answer which sounds reasonable on the surface but is likewise meant to distract from the issue arising from the multitude of allegations. His standard andwer is that he has done nothing illegal and therefore he will not resign. Holly Richardson does a great job of explaining the standard which governs the impeachment process and that standard is “high crimes and misdemeanors” not “committing illegal acts.” In doing so she illuminated the way that Mr. Swallow is using his standard answer to deflate the very appropriate calls for impeachment by playing on a general misunderstanding of what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Let me start by making this very clear. We tend to think of high crimes being obviously criminal like murder but the fact is that obviously criminal acts such as that are felonies and felons are not even allowed to vote, let alone hold office. Lesser criminal acts are classified as misdemeanors so having ruled those out we can understand that “high crimes” are acts which may not even be actionable in the criminal system. As Holly points out, they are issues such as “breaches of ethical conduct, misuse of power, and neglect of duty.” Continue reading
I really appreciated Paul Mero’s take on efforts to change our caucus and convention system. Unlike Mr. Mero, I’m not well enough connected to be invited to take part in private meetings regarding how to change Utah’s caucus and convention system. On that particular issue that is the largest of our differences.
Like Mr. Mero I have been annoyed at the misinformation that I have seen spread by and among delegates with extreme positions on a number of issues – HB 166 among them. Like Mr. Mero, I have tried to pay attention to the efforts to change the caucus/convention system but I have not found those proposed changes to warrant any particular support from me. The core of where my views align with those expressed by Mr. Mero are summed up in the following quote:
Yes, I’m sure some delegates have stated that they don’t want increased participation in the political process. But, to be fair, most of those voices are more concerned about how blissfully ignorant most Utahns are about the world around them than those voices are about consuming political power. So, yes, these delegates do believe they are better informed and for good reason – most of them are! Not all of them have the right answers, for sure. But it’s a bit disingenuous of my friend to chastise any serious citizen for wanting her candidate to be elected or her policy to become law – for heaven’s sake, that’s exactly what everyone wants!…
If reformers want their candidates elected to office, they should make a case that appeals to the most responsible citizens who take time to engage in a democratic process that has served this state since its founding.