GOVERNMENT

Salt Lake County GOP creates new ethics committee

Mar 30, 2021, 7:12 PM | Updated: 7:12 pm
Salt Lake County Ethics...
(Former Salt Lake County GOP Chair Scott Miller speaking in 2016, when he was Vice-Chairman. Credit: Scott Winterton, Deseret News)
(Former Salt Lake County GOP Chair Scott Miller speaking in 2016, when he was Vice-Chairman. Credit: Scott Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake County GOP is in the process of creating a new ethics committee due to some women who sparked the formation. 

Some of the women who brought ethics complaints to the former Chair of the Salt Lake County Republican Party say they’re being threatened. They’re speaking out about the demeaning comments that led to the complaints which sparked the formation of a new ethics committee.

Salt Lake County Council member Laurie Stringham is one of the women who stepped forward with their complaints. She made a virtual appearance during Tuesday’s council meeting, saying the harassment started in September. When she complained to Party Chair Scott Miller, those complaints went nowhere.

Stringham said, “To those who dismissed abusive or harassing behavior, who told us to grow a thicker skin or just take it because we work in politics, or who just ignored it, you are complicit.”

Her staffers tell KSL she was asked to participate in a campaign ad by volunteer Dave Robinson. When they decided to do something different, they say Robinson mocked her, claiming she appeared to be giving a sexually charged message in her own ad. He then reportedly threatened to derail her campaign, completely.

“I will not put up with it again,” Stringham said.  “This needs to stop, now.”

Stringham’s senior policy advisor, Abby Evans, said things have intensified since Miller’s resignation. Evans said police are investigating threats made toward her and Stringham, although she isn’t making any claims about where those threats are coming from. She said officers arrived at her house and observed it Monday night.

Evans said they made complaints about Robinson, but those complaints essentially died once they reached Miller.  She said Robinson has a history of making cruel or threatening comments to women when they don’t go along with his demands.

“When you’re a bully and you try and control everybody, you resort to saying horrible things to get them back in line,” Evans said.  “[Stringham is] not someone who gets ‘back in line,’ that’s for sure.”

Robinson’s response

However, Robinson said he hasn’t been given a fair opportunity to defend himself against the allegations of bullying. He issued a statement to the Deseret News, saying…

“The recent allegations brought against me are very serious. In no way am I discounting the feelings and accusations of the alleged victims; I believe they should be heard and every allegation fully vetted. Part of that vetting must include allowing the accused to respond to the allegations.”

He states he asked for a full and transparent process into the allegations for months, which never happened. He also believes a lot of the accusations stem from the Utah GOP trying to undermine the work of the party on the county level.

“For months, I made multiple requests of (Utah GOP) Chairman Derek Brown to meet and discuss the rumors and allegations I was aware of at the time. My requests went unanswered.”

The new ethics committee

Miller’s resignation is forcing the Salt Lake County GOP to create a new ethics committee, which leaders hope will prevent these kinds of problems from happening again.  Acting Party Chair Scott Rosenbush said the specifics of what this committee will address haven’t been fully hammered out. However, he believes they should address the fact they don’t have a code of conduct for volunteers.

He said, “We should have a volunteer policy that explains to volunteers what’s expected of them.”

He also believes there should be better oversight on the communications sent out by party leaders. Rosenbush said Miller wasn’t under any obligation to have someone review his controversial email, which called the women raising ethical complaints “sore losers who failed to win their respective races.”

Rosenbush said, “Certainly, if they were run by any of the current officers, we would have made suggestions for significant edits to those emails before they went out if we would recommend that they go out, at all.”

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Salt Lake County GOP creates new ethics committee