Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allegedly took hundreds of thousands dollars to make a federal probe of a prominent Nevada philanthropist’s business go away.
The charges come from St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, who claims newly-elected Utah Attorney General John Swallow worked out a deal in 2010 to squash a federal investigation into his Internet marketing company, I Works, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.
Swallow enlisted Richard M. Rawle, owner of the Provo-based payday-loan company Check City, to use his influence in getting Senator Reid involved, Johnson also claims.
“Rawle, who died of cancer last month, had contributed to Reid’s 2010 re-election bid and later bragged to Johnson that the Nevada Democrat helped him delay new federal payday-loan regulations,” the Tribune reports.
To back up his allegations, Johnson provided the Tribune with an e-mail from Swallow showing his involvement in the case.
“Richard [Rawle] is traveling to LV tomorrow and will be able to contact this person, who he has a very good relationship with,” reads the e-mail from Swallow dated September 20, 2010. “He needs a brief narrative of what is going on and what you want to happen. I don’t know the cost, but it probably won’t be cheap.”
Johnson says Swallow initially wanted US$2 million to enlist Reid’s help, but the eventually worked out a deal for US$300,000 up front and US$300,000 to be paid at a later date.
The wealthy businessman and philanthropist made an initial payment of US$250,000 but the federal investigation continued. Johnson eventually spent 96 days in prison because of the probe.
The Tribune notes there is no proof that the money Johnson allegedly paid Swallow ever made its way to Senator Reid.
Swallow later insisted to the Tribune that Johnson is making “false and defamatory accusations” and that any role he may have played was merely for lobbying purposes.
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Swallow stated. “As long as I’m not interfering with a government agency as a government official, there’s nothing wrong with me being involved.”
Senator Reid’s office had no comment.