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Not the first time AG's office has set its sights on Consumer Protection

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Three years ago, Governor Huntsman was pressured to fire woman who oversees Division of Consumer Protection.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Is Utah's Attorney General's office putting politics before protecting consumers?

The City Weekly is reporting that the AG's Chief Deputy is making some interesting comments.

In a leaked phone conversation, John Swallow says he wants to move Utah's Division of Consumer Protection from the Commerce Department to the AG's office.

But to get some perspective on this, set the wayback machine to 2009.

On the day before he left the governor's office three years ago, I asked Jon Huntsman if the attorney general wanted the Consumer Protection boss fired.

Huntsman's answer shows John Swallow's comments may be even more serious than they appear.

ABC 4: "Did Attorney General Mark Shurtleff ask you to fire Commerce Director Francine Giani?”

Gov. Huntsman: “We had a conversation about Francine that went well beyond any specific case."

ABC 4 was later told that; yes, Shurtleff did ask Huntsman to fire Giani.

Giani, as head of the Commerce Department, was in charge of the Division of Consumer Protection.

Giani got in Shurtleff's crosshairs after she investigated a high profile businessman who was on friendly terms with a powerful Republican legislator.

But ultimately Huntsman backed Giani.

On that day in 2009, Governor Huntsman told ABC 4,

"I like the job Francine is doing. I think she is a good gut fighter. She is my kind of public servant and I've decided to keep her on board."

Now, fast forward to this comment by John Swallow, Shurtleff's right hand man and a candidate who's trying to become Utah's new AG.

In a recording obtained by City Weekly, Swallow says,

"Now, when I am attorney general - this is kind of confidential - but I am going to try and restructure it so that consumer protection is under the AG."

Francine Giani declined to comment for this story.

But, recently, she explained her management style to Utah Business Magazine,

"Being honest, having integrity, knowing that the things that I have done have been ethical."

Now, I did ask for an interview with John Swallow.

The attorney general’s office said no.



FOLLOW CHRIS VANOCUR ON TWITTER: @cvan4
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