WEST VALLEY CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert said Tuesday that if embattled Attorney General John Swallow worked for him, he'd be gone.
"I'm increasingly alarmed at the stuff that's bubbling out, what I consider ethical challenges, ethical violations," Herbert said. "I can only say, if he worked for me before all that's come out, he wouldn't be working for me today."
The statement, made in response to reporter questions at a news conference about clean air, is the strongest so far from the governor about Swallow, the subject of federal, state and local investigations.
Herbert said he was not calling for Swallow to resign.
"You know, there are a lot of people that are calling for his resignation. I'm not one of them," the governor said. "I think that's something that John Swallow needs to make a determination himself. He knows the facts better than probably anybody."
The attorney general, Herbert said, "needs to look at what's in the best interest of his family. He needs to look at what's in the best interest of the state of Utah and make that decision."
Both the conservative Sutherland Institute and the left-leaning Alliance for a Better Utah have publicly called for Swallow to step down, while Democrats in the House and Senate are seeking legislative hearings.
Republicans, who hold the majority in the Legislature, are scheduled to meet on June 19 to discuss possible impeachment proceedings against the attorney general. The governor praised their efforts.
"I think they are being wise in how they approach this. This is an unprecedented, potentially historical event," Herbert said, calling lawmakers "cautious and careful" as they carry out their constitutional responsibility. "I applaud their efforts."
Allegations against the attorney general, who took office in January, include that he helped broker a deal for an indicted St. George businessman attempting to derail a federal investigation into his company.
Swallow is also accused of promising special consideration to telemarketers in exchange for contributions to former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's re-election campaign. Swallow had served as a fundraiser for Shurtleff before becoming his chief deputy.
The governor called again for investigators to "get on with it" and wrap up their work quickly, especially those with the U.S. Department of Justice. Herbert had expressed his frustration at the pace of the federal investigation in April.
Tuesday, he said federal investigators "need to be methodical, they need to be thorough, they need to take as much time as they need — but not one day longer. This is a cloud over Utah and it needs to be removed."
In a statement Tuesday evening, Swallow said he admires Herbert "for speaking out that due process should be followed," but he's "saddened (the governor) has grown impatient with the process."
"What happened to me could happen to anybody," Swallow said, "and I still believe we should put our faith in fairness, facts and evidence rather than allegations, rumors and speculation shared through the media."