A former intraparty opponent of American Party gubernatorial nominee Arly Pedersen is claiming that Pedersen violated state law and should be disqualified from the campaign.
Lawrence Rey Topham, who was himself eliminated from the campaign when Pedersen obtained more than 70 percent of the votes at the party's state convention last week, has filed a petition with Gov. Norm Bangerter asking the state to investigate Pedersen and his campaign.Topham alleges that Pedersen failed to file legally required papers establishing a personal campaign committee before spending money on the campaign, and that he was behind possibly illegal convention fees that the party asked delegates to pay before they could vote.
Deputy Lt. Gov. David Hansen, who is investigating Topham's claims for the governor's office, said any violations of law appear to be minor and handled easily without trying to force Pedersen out of the campaign.
Hansen said Pedersen did fail to file a personal campaign committee statement. But Pedersen promised to have it filed with the lieutenant governor by late Wednesday morning. Hansen said as long as it is filed, he feels no other action is needed against Pedersen. That decision will be up to the governor, he said. Pedersen may also appeal any decision in court.
Pedersen told the Deseret News, "It wasn't filed because my secretary has been quite ill. I was also told that I didn't have to file it until I collected contributions and started spending them. Any money I've spent so far has been out of pocket."
Hansen said he felt the state already properly dealt with Topham's claims about possibly illegal fees charged at conventions. The state forced the party to re-hold its Salt Lake County convention because delegates were not allowed to vote unless they paid the fee - which the state said was an illegal poll tax.
The party also charged a fee at its state convention, but party officials said it was optional and did not affect delegates' ability to vote.
But Topham claims that merely asking for the fee was illegal and also claims that illegal fees were charged in the Davis County convention - and the state did not force that convention to be re-held before Pedersen's nomination.
Topham said, "I feel I would have been elected except for all the fraud that went on. The party appointed many unregistered delegates, didn't certify delegate lists to county clerks and charged the delegate fees."
Pedersen said, "I feel Larry is just trying to get publicity. Is he a poor loser? I don't know. Topham is just being Topham."