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The City Journals

Mayor and Councilman Send Letters on Alleged Briber’s Efforts

Oct 01, 2015 08:18PM ● By Rhett Wilkinson

Andrew Petersen visited Mayor Dave Alvord reportedly before allegedly bribing city council candidate Chuck Newton. Alvord and Newton released letters about Petersen’s visits. Photo courtesy Andrew Petersen

By Rhett Wilkinson

The man who allegedly bribed a city council candidate to drop out of the race visited Mayor Dave Alvord beforehand, asking the mayor if he’d want in on his plan, Alvord wrote in his letter. It came after Chuck Newton, the candidate, sent his own.

Andrew Petersen is the alleged briber who lost in the primary election. He knocked on the door of Alvord’s home before he visited competitor Chuck Newton with an alleged bribe, Newton wrote. Petersen told Alvord about his plans to offer money to Newton and also to fellow former candidate Paul Bateman, Alvord wrote. While Alvord did not recall the “exact date,” he was visited between Aug. 11-18, bookended by the primary election and canvass meeting dates, Alvord wrote to the South Jordan Journal. Newton wrote that it came before Petersen offered him money. Newton and Petersen visited on the night of the 13th, Newton wrote.

Money from Petersen would have gone to Newton’s 2017 mayoral candidacy, Alvord and Newton wrote. Alvord made clear in his letter one way how he felt about that.

“It should not surprise any who know of my and Mr. Newton’s relationship that I would not favor any scheme that leads to Chuck Newton becoming the next mayor,” Alvord wrote. “It’s too bad that Andrew didn’t realize this.”
When Newton sent a letter on Aug. 13 to city officials about the alleged bribe, he asked City Councilman Chris Rogers to “have the mayor write up a contact memo outlining the substance of the conversation.” Alvord sent a letter to city officials 41 days later, on Sept. 23.

When Petersen asked Alvord if Alvord would be running again, Alvord said that he “indeed may want to,” but that it depended on how he and the new city council got along. Newton told the South Jordan Journal that he wasn’t sure if he would run for mayor in 2017.

When Petersen suggested the scheme, Alvord wasn’t sure if it was possible for Petersen to even stay in the race given that he was not one of the top two vote-getters in the Aug. 11 primary election. Alvord also wasn’t sure if Petersen’s approach was legal. Alvord encouraged Petersen to check with a Salt Lake County office. Petersen said in advance of the Aug. 18 canvass meeting that he would “have to act fast,” Newton wrote. Petersen attended the canvass meeting.

Vacancy procedures according to state law would have ensued in January, after the previous term ended. Nothing else can make it so that anyone but the top two-vote getters in the primary can advance – even if one or both were to drop out, the lieutenant governor’s elections office told the Journal. Swensen referenced to the Murray mayoral race from 2013, where nobody who wasn’t one of the top two vote-getters got to face Ted Eyre in a general after the recently-deceased David Wilde dropped out.

Petersen “had come into some money from a family member” that was $10,000, Alvord wrote. Newton told the Journal that Petersen was vague about how he received the money when the two visited. Newton wrote in his letter that Petersen offered him $10,000, including $5,000 for the mayoral run.

Petersen said that “(his) inquiries were more of the nature that I didn’t want to easily give up.” He added: “I wanted to get an understanding of any alternative that may exist.”

The Journal asked Petersen about his attending the canvass meeting.

“It was nothing I really had in mind,” he said. “I just wanted to be there to get an account of the understanding of how things worked and see what the final tally was, and that was basically the sum of it.”

Petersen filed a lawsuit against Newton on Monday for defamation.

Alvord and Newton’s letters are attached (above).