LAYTON -- Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings is investigating Lt. Gov. Greg Bell over allegations he abused government powers and funds in an audit aimed at thwarting the outcome of a child-abuse case.
Rawlings declined to comment Thursday on the investigation that has been under way since November 2011, but said in a letter provided to the Standard-Examiner the FBI is also involved in the case.
Deborah Bertram, spokeswoman for the FBI field office in Salt Lake City, said the agency would neither confirm nor deny involvement.
Bell could not be reached for comment.
However, Gov. Gary Herbert issued a statement Thursday defending Bell.
"Nothing state government does is more important than balancing parental rights with protecting children," Herbert said. "These situations require Solomon-like judgment, and I am grateful for the work of Director DePaulis and his team at Human Services. That said, the Lt. Governor and I were elected by the people of this state to oversee state operations and ensure executive agencies appropriately execute their roles. We ask questions. We conduct assessments. We follow up on constituent inquiries. Routine examination of agency process and outcomes is called good governance. I have the utmost confidence in the integrity of our Lt. Governor in executing that important responsibility."
Rawlings, in the letter provided to the Standard-Examiner, offered limited details about allegations against Bell, including:
- Launching an audit with an underlying purpose to discredit the state in court regarding the child-abuse case and the improper sharing of information for that purpose.
- Interactions and communications from three auditors and Bell to state agency employees and community medical providers that caused concern among those employees and providers about the viability of their continued employment or contract relationships. The letter also says Bell has a personal relationship with an interested party connected to the case.
- The scope and nature of the audit's existence and intended use as a defense tool in court was pulled back or minimized once it was discovered there was an investigation by the Davis County Attorney's Office.
- Public money was appropriated and spent on the audit that was outside of legal boundaries.
No criminal charges have been filed in connection with the investigation, Rawlings said in the letter.
"Many witnesses have been interviewed," the letter states. "More will be interviewed."