State treasurer candidate Richard Ellis said Thursday he's making one last attempt to get his elections complaint against his GOP primary opponent investigated before next Tuesday's election.
And now his opponent, Rep. Mark Walker, R-Sandy, is readying his own elections complaint against Ellis. Voters on Tuesday will decide whether Ellis or Walker is the party's nominee for state treasurer.
Ellis has accused Walker of offering to let him keep his job as chief deputy state treasurer at a substantially higher salary if he agreed to drop out of the race. It is illegal for candidates to promise jobs.
Walker, who has denied that allegation, has not filed his complaint. His campaign manager, Steve Hunter, said Walker will accuse Ellis of improperly using state resources in his campaign and attempting to entrap him by soliciting the job offer.
Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, who serves as the state's chief election officer, has delayed making a determination whether Ellis' allegations should be turned over to Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's office until after the primary election.
Ellis went all the way to the state Supreme Court in an unsuccessful attempt to force Herbert to make a decision. So Thursday, Ellis took his complaint directly to the Attorney General's Office.
"We think there's enough there that it warrants some further investigation," Ellis said.
Dale Gardiner, Ellis' attorney, told Shurtleff in a letter that "while the Lieutenant Governor may apparently delay his determination for political reasons, the statute provides no such discretion to your office."
The letter argues that there is already sufficient evidence to require the appointment of a special counsel. Ellis has said that Shurtleff should hire an attorney from outside his office to handle the case because he is a supporter of Walker.
Paul Murphy, spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, said the complaint has been received by Chief Deputy Kirk Torgensen.
"He will review it and come up with the best course of action as quickly as possible," Murphy said. "But ultimately this matter will be handled by somebody outside of our office."
Murphy said Shurtleff "will not be part of the decisionmaking process."
He stressed that any investigations into the complaint would be conducted by attorneys from outside the office. Murphy said that when Walker's complaint is received, it will be handled similarly.
Ellis released a copy Thursday of an e-mail to Herbert from Carl Empey, a Zions Bank vice president, that stated Ellis' complaint "is 100 percent accurate and factual." Empey said Walker, a former bank employee, had discussed the offer with him.
"Mr. Walker is not telling the truth by denying the conversations and the job offer that he was involved in," Empey said. Previous e-mails from Empey to Ellis describing the job offer, including a $56,000 raise to $160,000, had already been made public.
Herbert's office has received more than a dozen e-mails from the public about his reluctance to act on Ellis' complaint before the primary, and all but one of the e-mails was critical of the lieutenant governor.In response to a public records request by the Deseret News, Herbert's office provided copies of the e-mails. Most urged quick action, but a few resorted to calling Herbert names, including "a spineless crony who will sacrifice every ethic for the sake of politics."