This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
There's smoke rising from Wayne County. Can someone head down there and see if it's a fire?
The county attorney quietly quit her job a month ago, and then a short time later she not so quietly gave her reasons.
In a letter to the editor in a small newspaper called The Insider, LeEllen McCartney mentions personal demands and budgetary constraints as part of the reason for leaving. But she also makes some serious allegations that Wayne County commissioners ignored her advice on open meetings law, and she said one commissioner asked her to dismiss a traffic ticket against the son of a friend. She declined a Tribune reporter's request for more specifics, saying the commissioners are her former clients.
She quit July 1, but she only recently went public with her complaints, saying she had to do it to combat "outrageous rumors" about why she left. So to combat the rumors, she offered non-specific accusations that essentially paint all the commissioners as bad actors.
So what's really going on here? The people of Wayne County may never know. Commissioners have hired the Emery County Attorney to represent their county (which is perfectly legal), and they're moving on. They declined to comment to The Tribune.
McCartney's allegations deserve a deeper look by someone at the state level with the investigative and, if needed, subpoena power to get a clear picture in short order.
All of this comes a year after the lieutenant governor's office had to file suit to overturn a GOP primary election result in a commission race because a deputy Wayne County clerk had used county election data to help her husband win that election.
Seventh District Judge Lyle Anderson ruled that the deputy clerk had engaged in "improper behavior and, in some cases, dishonest and wrongful behavior," but the judge stopped short of overturning the election because he said her meddling didn't actually change who would have won. The husband, David Brinkerhoff, became the GOP nominee but was defeated by a write-in candidate in November. The wife, Coral Brinkerhoff, was under investigation by the Sevier County Attorney's office, but apparently no charges were ever filed.
Let's not let the former county attorney's claims drift away in a stiff Wayne County breeze. Maybe there is nothing to them, which is something residents should know. Or maybe there is something to them, also something they should know.
The people of Utah's fourth smallest county deserve the full support of state government, and they deserve an explanation of what exactly that smoke is.