SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Attorney General John Swallow's resignation was an abrupt end to an otherwise quick political ascension and leaves the state's top law enforcement office in limbo just a year after Swallow was elected to a four-year term.
His decision to leave caps 10 months of investigations and allegations of bribery, misconduct and shady dealings that gnawed at the 51-year-old Republican during his short tenure.
As Swallow announced his resignation Thursday, he vigorously denied breaking any laws and instead cited the strain the "perfect storm" of allegations has put on his family.
"Now is the time for the madness to stop and for the state to move forward," Swallow said. "The toll on my family, the toll on my office and the toll on our finances has been too much. It is time for it to stop."
The flameout of a politician who sailed into office with nearly two-thirds of the vote a year ago leaves the Utah Republican Party scrambling to find a replacement.
Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert will choose from among three GOP-picked candidates to fill the office. That person will serve as attorney general until a special election can be held next November, said Jeff Peterson, the Utah Republican Party's executive director.
The party's central committee has scheduled a Dec. 14 meeting to make the choice.
Within a week after Swallow took the oath of office in January, he was accused of engaging in questionable financial dealings with a businessman facing federal fraud charges. The allegations triggered a series of investigations and calls for his resignation
Swallow's resignation is the first time a Utah attorney general has stepped down midterm, said Tim Chambless of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics. The state has seen two governors resign, but both left for other political posts and not in scandal, he said.
"Under these circumstances, this is unprecedented in Utah political history," Chambless said.
Swallow has been accused of arranging a bribery plot and trading offers of protection in return for favors from several businessmen. He is also accused of failing to disclose business interests on campaign forms and violating attorney-client privilege while serving in the attorney general's office. He has been or is currently being investigated by the state elections office, two county attorneys, the Utah House, the FBI, the Department of Justice and the Utah State Bar. Swallow has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
At his nearly half-hour news conference Thursday, Swallow repeatedly accused the Utah House of launching a politically driven investigation and cited his concerns about the amount of public money they were spending.
"I believe the investigation was calculated to make it very difficult for me to stay in office," he said.
Swallow didn't specify why he thought the investigation was politically driven beyond saying that House investigators were falsely accusing him of not cooperating.