Rolly: Bramble attempts to solve S.L. County auditor problem
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Republicans like to say they are all about saving taxpayer money, and a bill for the upcoming legislative session may do just that.

Except this one, if passed, could have prevented Salt Lake County taxpayers from bearing the cost of a potentially expensive lawsuit filed by a Republican officeholder.

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, opened a bill file with the Legislative Research and General Counsel's office titled "Government Amendments."

So far it has no content, but Bramble said the intent is to define the duties of county auditors and to make clear that budgeting and accounting functions must be the responsibility of either the County Mayor's Office or the county commission.

His bill aims directly at Republican Salt Lake County Auditor Greg Hawkins, who has sued the county council and mayor over their recent action to transfer certain budgeting and accounting functions from the auditor's office to the Mayor's Office.

Hawkins hired his former law partner without going through the District Attorney's procurement process, and has requested up to $375,000 for his legal fees.

So far, Hawkins' complaint has received three court hearings. All three were rejected.

Opportunity knocks? • The offices where congressional candidate Carl Wimmer rents space were vandalized over the News Year's weekend, but the initial political sensationalism that turned into nothing seemed to be driven by Wimmer himself.

And, lo and behold, it occurred during the news cycle that just happened to be the eve of Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love's announcement that she will be one of Wimmer's Republican rivals for the 4th Congressional District nomination.

The story of the break-in first appeared Wednesday morning in the online edition of the Provo Daily Herald.

The Daily Herald story quoted Wimmer, who noted nothing of value was taken. "That's the strange thing," Wimmer said. "We have computers, TVs, tons of equipment in there and nothing was stolen. They could have taken the cellphones, but they took nothing."

He added that police said it appeared the intruder was looking for information.

Later, Wimmer posted on Twitter that he would be appearing that morning on KSL Radio's "Doug Wright Show."

During the interview, he told Wright that someone had rummaged through all his desks and papers while leaving expensive equipment like computers, flat screen TVs and cellphones.

But by the afternoon, the intrigue had deflated. An officer handling the investigation said the office was not affiliated with Wimmer by name, the main target of the vandalism seemed to be a nearby sandwich shop and several businesses in the building had been disturbed.

After that information surfaced, Wimmer told The Tribune he never thought it was a case of his office being singled out.

Past political "break-ins" • At least in the case of Wimmer's office, there was an actual crime.

Nearly 20 years ago when Republican Bob Bennett was running for the open U.S. Senate seat, his Democratic opponent, Wayne Owens, announced his Washington, D.C., campaign office had been vandalized.

There was a strong hint that Bennett's campaign might have been involved. Owens, at the time, was running campaign ads linking Bennett to the infamous Watergate break-in the early 1970s.

Then there was the Karl Rove bugging incident.

The Olympus High School graduate and chief political adviser to former President George W. Bush had a private investigator sweep his office in Texas in the mid-1980s when he was political consultant for a Republican gubernatorial candidate. Predictably, a bug was found.

Police were called and a press conference was held with comments suggesting the bug had been planted by the Democratic opponent.

Later, it was determined the bug couldn't have been operating for more than a half hour before it was discovered because of the battery life still left, suggesting an outside intruder couldn't have done it. Rove and the Republican candidate's staff suddenly went silent on the entire issue.

prolly@sltrib.com