Legalized Bribery: How Government Works

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AG John Swallow
Utah AG John Swallow

Recently allegations have been shot at Utah’s new Attorney General John Swallow, claiming he accepted a bribe from businessman Jeremy Johnson, seeking the AG’s help with an FTC investigation that may send Johnson to jail.

The Salt Lake Tribune, the St. George Spectrum and the Daily Herald have published opinion pieces calling for Swallow’s resignation.  On Monday, January 14th, I received an email from the AG denying the allegations.  

As of this post, we do not have enough information to make a judgment.

Sean Reyes
AG Candidate Sean Reyes

I know Utah Attorney General John Swallow, an attorney, former lobbyist, Deputy Attorney General, supporter of many decent causes, and good family man.  I also know his opponent Sean Reyes, a smart attorney with a long list of credits, and a good family man. From my experience with them, I believe they are both good men.

A good man in our community once recruited to run for an office in Salt Lake where there had been corruption and a replacement was needed shared this insight with me:

You can spend your entire life doing good things, living a clean life, raising a good family, being successful in your business and a leader in your community and church, but when you run for political office, all bets are off.  That same good person can be publically discredited and destroyed overnight.

Premature Media Over-reaction or Political Lynching Opportunity?
If there are evil designs to destroy an innocent man, that would be tragic for the people to allow to happen. Calling for resignation at this juncture seems like an over-reaction and premature.

More information will be forthcoming to help sort out what happened.

Mark Shurtleff
Former Utah AG Mark Shurtleff

I also know that our former AG Mark Shurtleff violated election law by co-mingling campaign funds between his state and federal accounts (one of the reasons he dropped out of the Senate race). He gave favors to some businesses that contributed to his campaign.

Is that not some kind of “bribe?”  How was the former AG insulated from charges to resign?

Do campaign contributions influence elected official’s decisions? Apparently so, or 30,000 lobbyists wouldn’t compete to control DC – and even Utah – by getting those campaign contributions to their favorite incumbents.  It’s big business and a political shark tank.

So is this a political lynching?

Shurtleff was a moderate. He successfully defended one of the most powerful lobbys in America – the video gaming industry – in its campaign to make it a “right” of a minor to purchase a violent and pornographic video game without parental consent.

In 2004, he opposed Utah’s Marriage Amendment and supported gay marriage at fundraising events. He balked at defending a Pro-Life bill, and showed up at amnesty rallies, standing in solidarity with illegal aliens.

On the other hand, John Swallow has a known conservative track record. In 2005, I personally worked with him to help raise money to fight pornography. He is a staunch defender of the right to Life. He disagrees with his predecessor on gay marriage, amnesty and violent video game policies.

That short list represents billions in lobbying that those industries and the powerful ACLU know AG Swallow will not support.

Whatever has happened, we can only hope some good will come of this situation.

How Things Work
Government has become corrupted by accepting standards of behavior and negotiations that fall into the blurry lines of what is ethical or unethical.  Elected officials discover it is nearly impossible not to play this “You pat my back, I’ll pat yours” game if they want the power to influence and to get promoted to leadership.

DC lobbyists
Credit: Independent Journal Review

I hope this investigation will educate people on how government really works. I don’t profess to know what the AG did or did not do, but I do know how government works, from first-hand experience:

If a business is in need of help, and government can provide that help, the business will hire a lobbyist. The higher the stakes, the more costly.

With the limited information we have so far, it could simply have been that the AG gave this business owner a reference to a lobbyist that could help him with his FTC claim.

That’s legal, and that’s what the AG is telling us.

But it is also evidence of a broken, corrupted system plaguing us by creating big government, huge debt and deficits. It is the driver of pork spending.

Lobbyists engage in such “legalized bribery” daily with billions of dollars they get from their clients. Some lobbyists are good: the ones that are protecting their clients’ companies from over-regulation.

But other lobbyists in DC, and here in Utah (and every other state as well), aim to keep their client’s competition away and to grab the market advantage (“Cap and Trade” legislation would be one example).

A lobbyist is merely the consequence of a government grown too large and taking on roles beyond its intended limited reach.

Jack AbramoffRead Jack Abramoff’s book Capitol Punishment by clicking on the Amazon button to the right. He presents a list of what it will take to clean up DC, among them to repeal the 17th Amendment.

He should know. He went to jail for being the “best” DC lobbyist ever. He’s now on a redemptive mission to clean it up.