Embattled St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson says new Utah Attorney General John Swallow helped broker a deal in 2010 in which Johnson believed he was to pay Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid $600,000 to make a federal investigation into Johnsonâ€™s company go away.
But when the federal government filed a lawsuit Johnson thought he had paid to quash, he demanded Swallow return some of the $250,000 initial payment. Then, just days before the Nov. 6 election, Johnson engaged in a frenetic but unsuccessful effort to get Swallow to drop out of the race, saying information about what Johnson called a “bribe” would come out and force the Republicanâ€™s resignation if he became attorney general.
Johnsonâ€™s allegations come less than a week after Swallow took the oath of office. Federal agents have interviewed several Utahns about Johnsonâ€™s relationship with Swallow, among other issues, according to those interviewed. The FBI would not comment.
Johnson said he does not know if any of the money he paid in the deal actually reached anyone connected to Reid.
Reidâ€™s office declined to comment, spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said Friday.
To back his allegations, Johnson provided an email from Swallow that Johnson identified as key in supporting his claims. Johnson also granted access to at least several dozen other emails, two financial records, several photos and a transcript of about 60 pages of a secretly recorded April 2012 meeting Johnson had with Swallow, who was then Utahâ€™s chief deputy attorney general.
The documents appear to support Johnsonâ€™s story that in 2010 Swallow brokered a deal between Johnson and Richard M. Rawle, owner of the Provo-based payday-loan company Check City, to enlist Rawle to use his influence to get Reid involved on behalf of Johnson and I Works, Johnsonâ€™s Internet marketing company that was under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.
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