FARMINGTON -- Syracuse attorney Terry R. Spencer, the Republican challenger for Davis County Commissioner, received a public reprimand in 2008 for a 2006 incident that occurred in a Nevada federal court, according to Idaho State Bar records.
Spencer, who will face Davis County Commissioner John Petroff Jr. in a June 26 primary, questions why the four-year-old reprimand has come to light now. He said he suspects there is "political motivation" behind the timing of the information, although he acknowledges the ISB document is public and easily accessible since the reprimand was first handed down.
Petroff denies sharing the information, but admits to knowing about it.
"I hope that is what they are hanging their hat on," Spencer said.
The Idaho court reprimand, which is reciprocal, did not lead to a fine, suspension or revocation of his license to practice law in Utah, California or Idaho where he practices, Spencer said.
The action by the Idaho court stems from his not having the authority in 2006 to represent a client in a Nevada federal court and the debate that ensued between him and the federal court judge.
"The judge wanted to make an example of me, and so she did," he said.
When the Utah State Bar attempted to bring similar action against him, the judge threw it out of court, while California authorities took no action at all, said Spencer, a former state senator from 1999 to 2002.
But Petroff, who nearly eliminated Spencer at the Davis County GOP Convention on April 13 -- falling eight votes shy of the delegate vote needed to prevent a primary -- said he has nothing to do with Spencer's reprimand resurfacing in the media.
"When I first found out Spencer was running against me, I Googled (his name) and found out these things about him," Petroff said. "But I never intended to use (the information), and I never used it. I could have used it at (county) convention, and never did use it," he said.
Spencer maintains that Petroff did speak to others at convention regarding the reprimand, at least according to people there "who brought that information to me."
Spencer said another reason he suspects political motives behind the issue coming up is that a family member of Davis County Commissioner Bret Millburn brought the public reprimand up at two separate meet-the-candidates nights in March.
Millburn, who said he is supporting Petroff, said he has not used anything against Spencer, but out of personal political interest as a voter did attend a March 6 neighborhood meet-the-candidates night that Spencer attended.
His stepson also happened to attend the same meeting, Millburn said, but it was not part of an orchestrated effort.
"When I showed up, he was there," Millburn said of his stepson, a Weber State University student who was attending the political event as part of a communication class assignment.
Millburn said he is not aware of what transpired or if anything transpired between his stepson and Spencer. But his stepson, like anyone else, he said, could Google Spencer's name on the Internet and learn of his background.
"They'll look for anything they can," Spencer said of his opponent's camp. "I think they're worried."
With a small army of supporters, Spencer said, he has already knocked on a thousand doors in the county, and his campaign message is gaining traction.
Spencer's campaign has been critical of what he terms a "creeping" county government that continues to grow and the six-figure salaries the county commissioners receive.
Commissioners Petroff, Millburn and Louenda Downs, in 2012, will each receive a salary of $119,518.61, plus benefits, according to the county personnel office.
"Somebody has got to hold their feet to the fire," Spencer said.
Petroff has defended his salary, pointing out the long hours he works, which includes representing the county on 15 different boards.