Who's Investigating Salt Lake County? | Buzz Blog
Support the Free Press.
Facts matter. Truth matters. Journalism matters.
Salt Lake City Weekly has been Utah's source of independent news and in-depth journalism since 1984.
Donate today to ensure the legacy continues.

Who's Investigating Salt Lake County?

Questions around investigative subpoena highlight concerns over federal interference in local prosecutions


On July 19, 2015, the Salt Lake Tribune ran a story on the Justin Miller campaign finance scandal. The story by Mike Gorrell revisited the Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams’ allegations that his former campaign manager and elected state Rep. Miller had stolen funds. It also reviewed the ongoing investigation into Miller’s allegations of corruption against numerous leading Salt Lake County Dems, although Gorrell found “little merit” in Miller’s claims, he wrote in his piece, and Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill discounted that any such investigation was occurring.

City Weekly ran a cover story on Miller and the County imbroglio a week after Gorrell broke the story. One of the things that jumped out at me as I read Gorrell’s most recent piece was his statement that the U.S Attorney’s office had served a subpoena on the county for documents in June 2015.

A few weeks ago, the Tribune reported that the U.S. Attorney had taken control of the investigation into the mushrooming scandal surrounding Justin Miller from Davis County. Davis County attorney Troy Rawlings had initially been charged by Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill to look at Miller’s allegations, in part to avoid concerns of conflict of interest regarding Gill’s office effectively investigating his own boss and budget-master McAdams.

Sometimes the devil is in the details. Rawlings says his office rather than the U.S. Attorney hit the County Dem stronghold with a district-court judge-authorized subpoena in June 2015. “The subpoena is under seal so I cannot say more other than confirm it exists and clarify that it is part of a state of Utah process. As for the United State’s Attorney’s Office level of involvement, who really knows?”

That might be cause for worry, particularly if you read a column by Paul Rolly in the Tribune dated July 4, 2015 and headlined, “Feds act strangely when Utah A.G.s are probed.”

Rolly’s piece highlighted a seeming pattern of federal “meddling” in Rawlings and Gill’s prosecution of cases against former Utah Attorneys General Shurtleff and Swallow. Rolly paints a disturbing picture of the Department of Justice stepping into investigations into allegations of corruption against former AGs, Sens. Mike Lee and Harry Reid of Nevada, only to, in the latter case, possibly hinder that very investigation by compromising a key witness, Jeremy Johnson. In other cases that the feds became involved in or took over, nascent prosecutions simply died on the vine.

Hence Rawlings’ barbed comment as to who knows what the U.S. Attorney’s office is actually up to in the Miller investigation. What seems apparent though from Rawlings’ emailed statement is that his office is pursuing the investigation into Miller’s claims against the Salt Lake County Dems, regardless of what the feds do.