Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson will not face criminal sanctions for using public funds for a trip to Italy, and that has Republican leaders decrying the Democratic "good old boy network."
District Attorney David Yocom informed the mayor Monday that a preliminary inquiry found "no criminal acts occurred in the solicitation or expenditure of public funds for the 'Message to Torino Project.' "
Anderson had raised "private donations" to fund his trip to take an environmental Olympic message from Salt Lake City to Torino, Italy, in July. Anderson and his girlfriend joined the European leg of the trip, as did Deputy Mayor Rocky Fluhart and his wife, along with a Park City couple who are friends of the mayor. All members of the Torino team had some of their meal and room expenses paid.
Although that funding didn't come from tax dollars, Salt Lake County Republican Party Chairman James Evans pushed an investigation by Yocom's office because the money became public funds once it was deposited into a city donation account. Using that money for food and lodging for friends was a violation of state law, Evans said.
"Rocky's opinion was, 'I'm raising the money so I can spend it how I want to.' I'm saying, no, that's public money and you have to follow the law," Evans said.
Yocom, however, said the preliminary inquiry not a full-blown investigation turned up no evidence that Anderson violated any laws.
"We merely looked at it from the standpoint as to whether or not there was any criminal activity, and we found none," Yocom said.
Yocom added that a second inquiry into Anderson's use of a city credit card to pay a bar tab was not included in Monday's decision because it is a civil matter involving a possible violation of city policy instead of a criminal act.
In a written statement, Anderson lauded the benefits of the Torino trip, saying the "astounding project" took an environmentally friendly message to Torino, which will host the 2006 Winter Games.
"One must lament that politics has reached such a low level that some have tried to score partisan political points by besmirching the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices of several people who achieved such great feat on behalf of Salt Lake City," Anderson said in a written statement.
But Evans said the worst display of partisan politics was by the district attorney's office in finding no fault in Anderson's use of public money.
"At least David Yocom is consistent; he always protects his political friends," Evans said. "I think the public now will come to understand the good old boys network on the Democratic Party side. They'll do what they want and they'll make the law fit whatever it is they want to do."
Yocom's brief letter to Anderson makes little mention of how he conducted the inquiry and why using the money for the Italy trip was legal. According to the letter, the decision not to pursue criminal action was based on a number of witnesses, financial records, documents, policies and state statutes.
Lohra Miller, an attorney assisting the county's Republican Party, said she still wants Yocom to conduct a more thorough investigation of the Torino trip, as well as a criminal investigation into the bar tab. That case, she said, should not merely be a civil inquiry."I question the extent of the investigation and the adequacy of the investigation if he's merely asking Rocky his side of the story," Miller said.
District Attorney David Yocom conducted a preliminary inquiry into the use of public funds to pay for a trip to Torino, Italy, by Mayor Rocky Anderson and his girlfriend, Deputy Mayor Rocky Fluhart and his wife and several friends of the mayor.Yocom's conclusion: "No criminal acts occurred in the solicitation or expenditure of public funds for the 'Message to Torino Project.' " Yocom wrote in a letter Monday to Anderson.