FARMINGTON -- A $1,000 campaign contribution to Republican Davis County Commissioner John Petroff Jr. from the construction firm doing the $22.6 million renovation of the Memorial Davis County Courthouse campus has raised the eyebrows of Petroff's former political foe.
But Petroff, and officials with Wadman Construction, the contributor, dismiss the claim, contending there is nothing illegal or immoral about the contribution.
"It brings national politics back to Davis County," Democratic challenger Steven J. Andersen said when contacted by the Standard-Examiner about the contribution Petroff received.
Petroff, who defeated Andersen by nearly a 69 to 31 percent vote margin in the Nov. 6 general election, received $1,000 from Wadman Corporation, according to a recent campaign financial disclosure report Petroff filed with the county clerk/auditor's office.
Even though the Wadman Corporation is serving as the general contractor on the county's renovation project, which is just finishing up, Petroff dismisses the idea of any conflict of interest in his accepting the money.
"There was no conflict there in any way," Petroff said.
The courthouse campus renovation was awarded about two years ago, prior to his re-election campaign kicking off, Petroff said. Since Wadman Corporation was awarded the bid, Petroff said, he has developed a personal relationship with its owner. They each share an interest in Scouting, he said.
"There is nothing illegal or immoral" with what the company did, said Keith Buswell, who is in charge of business development for Wadman Corporation.
Buswell said the company has been around for 60 years, with most of its employees living in the Top of Utah. In that time it has developed relationships with different community leaders, he said. In this instance it was supporting a good person, Petroff, whom they know, he said.
"We're builders, not politicians," Buswell said.
"In this culture, we should avoid even the appearance of doing something wrong," Andersen said of the contribution Petroff received.
Andersen spent $18,284.28 out of pocket in his effort to get elected to the commission, according to a campaign financial disclosure report he filed with the county. The Farmington businessman, who holds investments in several companies and properties, said he was offered contributions but did not accept them -- "not a nickel" -- because he didn't want there to be a perception of anyone having any undue influence over him.
"All I am looking for is that when people hold office, they don't self-serve," Andersen said.
Petroff, in capturing his second four-year term in office, spent a total of $32,322.90 in fending off both his Democratic challenger, Andersen, in the Nov. 6 general election and Republican challenger Terry R. Spencer in the June 19 primary.
Because of the expense of mailers, Petroff said, most of the money he spent came in fending off Spencer in the primaries. Petroff said he received a total of $21,216.45 in contributions from a long list of Davis GOP who's who.
Many of the contributions Petroff received came from recognizable names, with former lawmaker and Layton hotelier Kevin Garn contributing $2,500; fellow Davis County Commissioner Bret Millburn contributing $250; and Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, and Stuart Adams, R-Layton, contributing $300 and $500 respectively.
Petroff also received a $500 contribution from former Davis lawmaker Sheldon Killpack and a $900 contribution from Layton entrepreneur and former lawmaker Haven J. Barlow.
Most of Petroff's expenses were related to signs and media coverage, with $173 being spent on food items.
The biggest campaign expense for Andersen was a $7,739 expenditure with Wright Signs for campaign signs, based on his report.