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Herbert says missing A.G. docs a cause for concern

Published November 7, 2013 11:58 am

Swallow saga • Herbert hopes there is a "rational explanation" for the wholesale disappearance of electronic data.
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Gov. Gary Herbert said Wednesday he is concerned about the scope of emails and files missing from Attorney General John Swallow's computers.

"I hope there is a rational explanation," the governor said in an interview, "but the magnitude is a cause for concern."

Steven Reich, special counsel for the House committee investigating Swallow, laid out a "worrisome" pattern of disappearing data that he said Tuesday is unlike anything he has seen.

In addition to an unknown number of emails and calendar entries, files appear to have not been transferred from Swallow's state-issued desktop and laptop computers when he received new machines. Information also is gone from his state-issued handheld data device, his home computer has malfunctioned and he has replaced his personal cellphone.

"It certainly creates concern," Herbert said. "I'm not passing judgment, but the fact there are so many that it appears are missing should be a concern."

Swallow's attorney, Rod Snow, said his client thought the files from his old computers were transferred to new computers he received after the November 2012 election and before the hard drives were erased, but later found they were not. Attempts to recover them were unsuccessful.

His home computer crashed in January of this year and attempts to recover data from the machine also failed.

The emails were lost, Snow said, due to technical issues when the state changed systems last year.

Herbert said nobody in his office lost documents during that switch. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Technology Services has said that, after a few glitches with the migration, all of the data made it to new accounts.

Snow said Reich is "jumping to conclusions and making assumptions that are without a fair and factual basis." He said no one knows what is missing, but Swallow is confident that any documents that are recovered would support his client's contention that he has done nothing wrong.

The bipartisan House committee is examining allegations that Swallow engaged in influence peddling, extortion and acceptance of improper gifts. The U.S. Justice Department investigated for months and ultimately did not file charges. Two county attorneys, with cooperation from the FBI, are continuing to investigate whether any state laws were broken.

In June, amid a flurry of allegations emerging against Swallow, Herbert said that he would have fired the Republican attorney general if he had worked for him.

"I can only say if he worked with me before, with all that is coming out, he wouldn't be working for me today," Herbert said at the time.

Herbert said Wednesday he made that statement based on "an ethical basis and whether you can be productive. … In a situation where you can't do your job, I'd ask you to resign."

But Herbert and his chief of staff, Derek Miller, said that reports from state agencies indicate no complaints about the work being done by the attorney general's office since the Swallow scandal broke in January.


Twitter: @RobertGehrke






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