Kaysville off electoral hook

Mar 16 2011 - 9:52pm

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KAYSVILLE -- The lieutenant governor's office -- after a lengthy review -- has cleared Kaysville of any election violation after accusations that city officials inappropriately used public funds to promote the Nov. 2 bond election to build a police station.

After processing and reviewing a complaint made by Kaysville resident Margaret Brough, the lieutenant governor's office determined that Kaysville's voter information pamphlet for its November bond election appears to fall within the guidelines of the election laws dealing with bonding, according to a letter issued Wednesday by Lt. Gov. Greg Bell.

"No further action will be taken on this complaint and I consider it closed," Bell stated in the letter he issued Wednesday to Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt and Brough.

"We are certainly pleased, but not surprised by the determination of the lieutenant governor's office," Hiatt said. "We encouraged a thorough investigation of the complaint. We were confident we acted appropriately, and I am happy the lieutenant governor's office agreed."

But Brough calls Bell's letter "very contradictory." It clears the city of any violation, yet gives the opinion the city is to show opposing viewpoints with future ballot propositions, she said.

"My very complaint was that (the city) did not show both sides. So, as far as I am concerned (Bell) is saying they violated the law, but he is giving them a pass," Brough said.

State officials and Hiatt take exception to Brough's claim that Bell gave a pass to the city regarding her complaint.

"Kaysville city has spent much time and resources addressing multiple concerns brought forth by (Brough). This is a very black-and-white issue. Kaysville city did not violate any election laws. It is as simple as that," Hiatt said.

The lieutenant governor's office received a complaint from Brough in November 2010 that public dollars were spent to produce and mail a flier to homes in support of a $4.5 million bond to build a new Kaysville police station. Voters rejected that bond by a 57 to 43 percent margin.

The complaint made by Brough says nothing about the city not offering opposing viewpoints in its voter information pamphlet, but rather addressed the use of city funds for political purposes, said Mark Thomas, director of elections for the lieutenant governor's office.

The section of state election code Brough claims was violated is 20A-11-1203, Thomas said. He said the chapter addresses public entities being prohibited from expending public funds on certain electoral matters.

Even if the complaint filed by Brough did address the city's not showing opposing arguments in its bond pamphlet, Thomas said, "Kaysville city did not violate this section because no person filed a request to submit arguments for or against the ballot proposition."

"Since no requests were filed," he said, "the city had no arguments to print."

In his letter to Brough, Bell clears the city of any violation in citing Utah Code 11-14-202, which states the governing body shall prepare and mail a voter information pamphlet and provide a list of specific items to include in it, including any additional information that may be useful to explain the property tax impact to voters, with a subsection stating the governing body shall pay the cost associated with the notice.

But for future ballot propositions, Bell in his letter brings to the attention of the city leaders a different section of Utah code requiring the voter information pamphlet "to include supporting and opposing arguments if those arguments are submitted to the local legislative body at least 50 days before the election."

Regarding Brough's added complaint that public funds were used to purchase robocalls encouraging Kaysville residents to vote for the bond, Bell said, "I found no evidence of any public funds used toward the purchase of robocalls."

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