Updated: As Bribe Allegation Sparks Fly, Claims Heat Up
Sep 24, 2015 03:21AM ● Published by Rhett Wilkinson
Andrew Petersen allegedly offered $10,000 to Chuck Newton if the campaign rival would drop out of the race for the South Jordan District 2 city council seat. Photo courtesy Andrew Petersen
Councilman Chuck Newton made allegations pertaining to South Jordan politics.
Newton claimed in a letter to the South Jordan city council that Andrew Petersen offered him $10,000 on Aug. 13, after the primary election occurred, if the council member dropped out the race for city council. The next day Newton spoke with Police Chief Jeff Carr and Chief of Staff Paul Cunningham about the issue. The letter was forwarded to District Attorney Sim Gill’s office after Newton then spoke with City Attorney Ryan Loose, Newton said.
“We were contacted by South Jordan government,” Gill said. “I want to say it was their legal counsel.”
Gill said that his office is still in the investigative process as of Oct. 1.
“There is no fixed timeline,” Gill said. “We gather the sufficient information… every investigation has its own sort of timeline.”
Brad Marlor, who advanced with Newton to the general election, said that Petersen met with him. Petersen claimed that the allegation of bribery is not true. The Salt Lake Tribune’s Paul Rolly reported on Sept. 22 on the alleged bribe. Rolly wrote to the South Jordan Journal that he has a policy of not revealing his sources.
Four candidates – Newton, Marlor, Petersen and Paul Bateman – ran in the primary for for the District 2 seat. The top two vote-getters at the Aug. 11 primary election were Newton and Marlor. Petersen reportedly met with Newton and Marlor and also Mayor Dave Alvord the following day. Petersen offered the alleged bribe in a two-hour meeting at Petersen’s home, Newton said.
Newton claims that Petersen’s offer included $5,000 now and $5,000 in 2017, assuming that Newton runs for the South Jordan mayor’s seat.
Marlor claimed that the following day he met with Petersen and Petersen spoke with Marlor about Marlor dropping out, Bateman and Newton said. Marlor denied that Petersen offered incentives to Marlor to drop out.
Even if Newton and Marlor both dropped out, Petersen wouldn’t have advanced to the general election, the South Valley Journal learned. Municipal candidates who that aren't the top two vote-getters after the primary election cannot advance even if both candidates drop out. Vacancy procedures according to state law would proceed starting in January, when the other term expired, according to the lieutenant governor’s elections office.
Newton said that he wrote an email (see attached) on Aug. 13 to South Jordan officials and sent a similar letter to Gill’s office explaining his reason for the allegation.
Petersen entirely denied the bribery.
“No such conversation ever took place,” Petersen said. “It doesn’t make sense to me why he would choose to attack me.”
Petersen said that former city employees complained to him that Newton is “always” trying to get people in trouble. He also claimed that Newton made allegations as part of a media stunt. Newton said that he is not seeking publicity on this matter and that he was just responding to requests from Rolly and other statewide media.
Newton suggested that Gill’s office tipped the Tribune about the allegation. Gill said the office had no knowledge of this and talked with the newspaper only when asked to confirm that Newton had filed a report.
Petersen told the Journal that “(his) inquiries were more of the nature that I didn’t want to easily give up.” He added: “I wanted to get an understanding of any alternative that may exist.”
Petersen filed a lawsuit on Monday against Newton for defamation.
The Journal asked Bateman about the entire situation.
“If the citizens of South Jordan found out about backroom dealings, there would be no trust between citizens and the city government,” Bateman said. “It’s sad that local politics have gotten to this point.”