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House GOP stops short of starting impeachment proceedings against Swallow, votes for investigation

SALT LAKE CITY — House Republicans voted in their caucus Wednesday to call a special legislative session to create a committee to investigate Attorney General John Swallow.

The decision stops short of starting impeachment proceedings against Swallow, who is the subject of federal, state and local investigations, but does allow the House to gather information about the allegations against him.

House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said she expects to call representatives into what would be the first-ever session of the House on its own before the next interim meeting of the Legislature on July 17.

Swallow praised the decision of his fellow Republicans, who hold a 61-14 majority in the House.

"I think they got it right today where they decided it wasn't time yet to start any serious discussion about impeachment. They simply need answers," the attorney general said, adding he looked forward to "opening up my office."

House leaders indicated there may not have been support in the GOP caucus to begin the impeachment process, which would have allowed a similar investigation before any decisions were made.

Rep. Spencer Cox, R-Fairview, one of the first lawmakers to bring up the possibility of impeachment proceedings, accused the caucus of "shirking our constitutional responsibilities."

Cox called the proposed committee, which would be set up during the special House session, "a pretend impeachment committee."

House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, said Wednesday's decision "is not a compromise" but rather a reflection of what most the GOP wanted.

Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, sat through the House Republican caucus, and said afterward Democrats should have been included in the discussion. Democrats in both the House and Senate have already called for an investigation into Swallow.

Lockhart, who said she had the authority to call the House into a special session to create a committee even without Wednesday's vote, said the decision was in line with the Democrats' position.