Provo City Council to decide Turley’s fate

131

The Provo City Council will meet tonight to decide the fate of one of its own.

Steve Turley, City-Wide District II councilman, is facing allegations of ethics violations.

Mayor John Curtis has recommended that Turley be dismissed from the council after former 4th District Judge Anthony Schofield released a report alleging that Turley violated the city’s ethics code five times during his time on the council.

The five  ethical lapses include: (1) failing to disclose attempts to obtain property designated as part of a city general plan for that area; (2) failing to disclose ownership interest in the Brand X property in the Ironton area, just north of Springville; (3) failing to disclose interest and contractual relationship with Whitaker Construction in its contract to lease property in Slate Canyon and grade and haul gravel from it; (4) failing to disclose interest in the proposed Rock Canyon land swap with the Forest Service, Richard Davis and Red Slab; and (5) trying to purchase property near the proposed intermodal hub in central Provo after learning of the hub in his official capacity.

In a statement released Monday, Turley again defended his conduct while in office and said the allegations against him are politically motivated.

“My political opponents have created such a frenzy around these allegations that my colleagues in Provo’s administration and on the City Council are blind to the facts and the law,” he wrote. “They simply want this drama over.”

Acknowledging that the “easiest way to end this drama” would be for him to resign, Turley said he would not because it would set a bad precedent by which future councils statewide might over-react to “disgruntled political opponents.”

Turley said he expects the council to remove him from office, but before that happens he wanted to set the record straight. He criticized the hurried nature of the investigation, said he has not been given a fair opportunity to defend himself, and responded to each of the five charges against him.

In conclusion, Turley wrote, “In short, no official city action was taken without disclosing my potential interest to Provo’s elected leaders, no interest by Provo was harmed, and I received no personal gain as a result of the alleged unethical activities.”

In a letter to the city council, Provo Mayor John Curtis called for Turley’s removal.

“If the council, city staff and especially the public cannot have faith in the veracity of their elected officials, our ability to carry on our work would be irreparably harmed,” Curtis said. “Those who seek public office should expect to live up to a high standard that exceeds average and normal.”

Schofield’s report concluded Turley’s motivations may have been pure in the beginning, but when an opportunity to profit from a particular situation presented itself Turley chose the path of personal gain.

Part of the controversy surrounding the case stems from a loophole in state law. Currently, the Employees’ Ethics Act does not provide clear statutory guidelines for ethics cases such as Turley’s.

In criminal proceedings, prosecutors must adhere to due process and prove cases beyond a reasonable doubt. At times, a jury of one’s peers is required. In Turley’s case, little is clearly outlined.

Provo will move forward with the hearing despite the lack of clear guidelines.

In a letter to Provo City’s assistant attorney, Turley’s lawyer, Craig Carlile, pointed out his displeasure with the ambiguity of the current law, Schofield’s report and the proceedings.

“We are obviously discouraged that Mr. Schofield went beyond his assigned task of addressing only the ethics act and waded into legislative waters of what he believes the law should be,” said Craig Carlile, Turley’s attorney. “From the outset we were assured that Mr. Schofield was strictly limiting his investigation to whether there was a violation of the [Employees’ Ethics] Act … this did not occur.”

The hearing to decide Turley’s standing on the council will be held at 8 p.m. today in the Provo Municipal Council Chambers, 351 West Center, Provo.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email