Davis County, FBI investigating Lt. Gov. Bell

Alleged abuse of his government power sparks investigation

By Michelle L. Price

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Feb. 21 2013 8:42 p.m. MST

Greg Bell

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Davis County attorney said Thursday his office and the FBI are investigating allegations that Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell commissioned an audit to interfere with a child welfare case.

The criminal investigation began in November 2011 after a constituent complained, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings disclosed in a letter about the investigation.

Rawlings said the complaint alleges government power and taxpayer money were abused when Bell asked for a review into a child abuse case. Bell is accused of having a personal relationship to someone involved in the case.

The investigation was first reported by Salt Lake City Weekly on Wednesday.

Rawlings declined to comment beyond the letter he released. A spokeswoman for the FBI said the agency would not confirm or deny the investigation.

During a news conference Thursday, Gov. Gary Herbert said Bell's review was "very appropriate" and it's something the executive branch does regularly to oversee departments within the executive branch. He said similar reviews have been done with the state's labor and workforce services departments.

"We have a responsibility to make sure that those processes are being done correctly," he said.

Herbert also expressed his support for Bell.

"I've got all the confidence in the world for Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, who has not done anything inappropriate," he said. "He is honest as the day is long and is a man without guile."

The lieutenant governor was unavailable to comment Thursday evening, but the governor's office released a statement reiterating Herbert's earlier comments.

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