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Winder cleared of allegations over campaign money

Published June 13, 2012 8:28 am

Politics • County is still vetting a countercharge against rival Crockett.
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Salt Lake County Republican mayoral candidate Mike Winder's most recent campaign financial-disclosure statements complied with the law, the county clerk's office said Tuesday.

Winder's April 5 disclosure was challenged by Curtis Patterson, who contended that Winder broke the law by raising and spending money on his county mayoral campaign before declaring his candidacy in January.

Patterson, a supporter of rival GOP mayoral candidate Mark Crockett, also questioned the legality of Winder, West Valley City's mayor, moving money from a city campaign fund into the account supporting his run for county mayor.

Dahnelle Burton-Lee, chief deputy clerk over the elections division, informed Patterson and the Winder campaign Tuesday that "Winder substantially complied with the requirements and intent of the [county] ordinance."

In addition, she said her office and the district attorney determined Winder fulfilled the provisions of a state law passed by the 2012 Legislature spelling out reporting requirements for county candidates who have open campaign accounts for elected offices outside of county government.

"Mr. Winder was subject to that law," Burton-Lee said, and complied by submitting copies of his city and county campaign funds to the county clerk's office.

Winder was satisfied by the decision and believed it would add momentum to his effort to defeat Crockett in the June 26 primary.

Added his campaign manager, Jake Dennis: "Throughout this campaign, we have worked closely with the county clerk's office. … We appreciate fair-minded people who can recognize hijinks by desperate campaigns when they see them."

Crockett said he disagreed with the outcome but would live with the decision. "It sure didn't look that way to me, but it's all fine," he said.

Meanwhile, Burton-Lee informed the Crockett camp in a separate letter Tuesday that the clerk's office and district attorney are still reviewing a retaliatory financial-disclosure complaint filed by Winder backer Brent Overson, a former Salt Lake County commissioner.

Peeved by Patterson's attack, Overson challenged Crockett's April disclosure statement (candidates were required to file the reports a week before the Salt Lake County Republican Convention) for being overly vague and lacking descriptions of specific expenditures.

Crockett's form showed that 90 percent of his campaign expenditures went to O'Hara & Associates, a firm run by his campaign manager, Randy O'Hara. Six expenditures were listed, totaling $27,150.

"I have hired O'Hara as a general contractor to run my campaign and payments made to him are for time, materials and expenses incurred as he sees fit [with my approval]," read a May 22 letter to County Clerk Sherrie Swensen that was signed by O'Hara on behalf of Crockett.

Those materials included expensive cookies Crockett handed out at the GOP county convention, an offering Overson said he had never seen before.

Burton-Lee told Overson and the Crockett campaign that "based upon Mr. Crockett's response and the question of what detail is required under the county's ordinance, we have asked the district attorney's office to provide a legal opinion."

No timetable for a ruling was provided.

The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Ben McAdams, a state senator and adviser to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, in the November general election.

mikeg@sltrib.comTwitter: @sltribmikeg —

The fall contest

P The winner of the June 26 GOP primary between Salt Lake County mayoral hopefuls Mike Winder, West Valley City's mayor, and Mark Crockett, a former county councilman, will face Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake City, in November.






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