North Ogden emails reveal candidates' fight over war record

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:17 PM

Rachel J. Trotter

NORTH OGDEN – In 2010, city councilman Wade Bigler questioned fellow council member Brent Taylor’s military record, saying he had been an Army private in the second Iraq war, not a leader of men. Taylor’s official Army record shows he rose to first lieutenant and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Now the two are running against each other for North Ogden mayor, and there seems to be lingering animosity between the candidates.

The 2010 political conflict comes to light now in city emails obtained by the Standard-Examiner with a Government Records Access and Management Act request.

Bigler made claims against Taylor’s military record and personal business dealings starting in May 2010.

In a May 19, 2010, email, Bigler accused Taylor of misrepresenting facts about some decisions made about cancelling the Miss Cherry Days pageant. He then referred to Taylor’s city council campaign and said he had “misrepresented the facts” about his business background and military service in Iraq.

Bigler said he didn’t believe Taylor was CEO of a company. “Were you elected by a board of directors because you have vast business knowledge and experience? Or did your brother-in-law say, hey, let’s give you the title of CEO because it will look good during your campaign? It’s your brother-in-law’s company! Have you even had to interview for a real job? For a career?”

Bigler then attacked Taylor’s military record.

“You continually talked about making quick and wise decisions so ‘your men’ would get through Iraq alive, as though you led them into battle. You were a private the entire time you were in Iraq. You weren’t this big leader that you make yourself out to be in order to make yourself look good. Public record,” Bigler wrote.

Bigler then threatened to send all of Taylor’s past e-mails to 1,000 of his friends if he continued to attack him without getting his facts straight.

Taylor responded in an email May 20, 2010, to Bigler and the rest of the council.

“Your accusations are 100 percent false and your slanderous ‘swiftboating’ of my military service is simply uncalled for. I was a private when I first enlisted after 9/11 and the Iraq war started, but I was commissioned as an officer after much of hard work in 2006,” Taylor wrote.

He told Bigler he served as an Army officer who commanded soldiers in dozens of combat patrols.

Taylor’s official military discharge papers from Iraq show his rank as first lieutenant and also shows that he received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among other decorations.

Taylor also spoke of his business, Ambassador IXL Manufacturing, and invited Bigler to visit him at his Roy office and speak with the board of directors. He referenced his other work history as well.

“I have also spent almost five years on full-time, active duty status in the U.S. Army protecting you and your family along with all U.S. citizens in this great country. I am sorry if you do not consider military service to be a “real job.” Most, if not all, of our citizens would strongly disagree with you on that,” Taylor wrote.

Since May 2010, when the first accusations were made, Taylor served another tour for the Army of about 10 months in Afghanistan. During that time he took a leave of absence from the city council. Upon his return, Taylor challenged the media policy the city council had approved in his absence. At the time, the policy stated that all contact with the media should be through email, even elected officials. Some on the council were upset that he spoke with the media over the phone and in person.

In an Aug. 14, 2012 email, also obtained from a GRAMA request, Bigler again brought up Taylor’s military service.

“During and since the last campaign and the petition process, you have accused new council members of playing politics. And it seems that you are picking up right where you left off before you chose to leave for awhile,” Bigler wrote, accusing Taylor of choosing to be deployed.

City Councilman Justin Fawson also weighed in via email, accusing Taylor of using his military career as a “crutch.” Fawson has since apologized for his accusation, but Taylor said Bigler has never apologized. Taylor did respond to Bigler’s accusation, though.

“Perhaps you think I ‘chose to leave for awhile’ to go on a vacation for the last 9 1/2 months? As you well know, I was serving our country and protecting our rights (including those enjoyed by you) in a dangerous assignment in Afghanistan. This is another silly insult against my military service to join the others you have made previously,” he wrote.

Asked by the Standard-Examiner to talk about about the emails, Bigler had no comment.

Taylor said he is still bothered by Bigler’s accusations and said other accusations are being made now during the mayoral campaign.

“Councilman Bigler’s accusations that I lied about my service in Iraq in order to trump up my qualifications are false and outrageous. It is beyond disgusting that someone who never wore the uniform would so casually impugn the wartime service of someone who served honorably,” Taylor said in an email to the Standard-Examiner.

Taylor said that Bigler failed to sign the city’s “Fair Campaign Practices” pledge when he registered to run for mayor. The pledge says the candidate will campaign openly and publicly and not use “scurrilous attacks” on any candidate or their family members.

A check with the city manager shows that Bigler has not signed the pledge. In an email, Bigler said he signed everything he had to sign. But according to state law, there is no requirement to sign the fair campaign practices pledge.

PDF: North Ogden City email 1

PDF: North Ogden City email 2

PDF: North Ogden City email 3

PDF: North Ogden City email 4

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