'Joe Mama' and 'Pearl McClutch': Auditor releases fake complaints over Utah's bathroom law

Utah Auditor John Dougall criticizes a new Utah law he says turned him into a "bathroom monitor" in a video posted Monday. Dougall released several "bogus" complaints submitted to his office in light of a state law limiting restroom access to transgender individuals.

Utah Auditor John Dougall criticizes a new Utah law he says turned him into a "bathroom monitor" in a video posted Monday. Dougall released several "bogus" complaints submitted to his office in light of a state law limiting restroom access to transgender individuals. (Screenshot)

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SALT LAKE CITY — "Joe Mama," "Pearl McClutch," "Thomas DePeeper" and "Poop dood" are just a few of the aliases provided by activists on some of the 10,000 bogus complaints sent to the Office of the State Auditor in response to a controversial law restricting bathroom access for transgender individuals.

Auditor John Dougall last week slammed the Utah Legislature for provisions in the law that require his office to investigate alleged violations by government entities, which he said turned him into a "bathroom monitor."

The online complaint form set up by his office was quickly inundated with over 10,000 fake complaints from activists upset about the law.

Dougall — who is also a 3rd District congressional candidate — on Tuesday provided copies of 20 complaints and five voicemails his office received in response to a public records request submitted by KSL. Although only a small percentage of the total number of complaints received, Dougall said the records represent a "cross-section" of complaints that have been submitted.

The tip line was shared widely across the U.S., with activists and users encouraging others to spam the office with complaints.

Many of the complaints are laced with expletives, sexually explicit descriptions and scatological and anatomical references. When asked to provide their contact information, some complainants listed "1-800-UR-DUMB" and "CEO@yourmom.com."

At least one of the bogus complaints said the violation occurred at "123 Sesame Street," and a list of alleged violators includes: the state of Utah, President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, Abraham Lincoln, late chef Anthony Bourdain, actress Betty White and "Joe Mama."


"i saw Trump and Biden hosting and participating together in drag queen story hour inside the women's bathroom at a government-owned highway rest stop outside Provo!!!" one complainant wrote in the section asking for information about the alleged violation. "They said it's going to be a weekly event and they're trying to lure as many children as possible so they can trans our children!"

One voicemail message from a "concerned citizen" called Dougall a "fascist transphobic" and another said, "I hope you die soon."

But many complainants expressed specific concerns with the Legislature's policy that restricts restroom access for transgender people in state-owned facilities and narrowly defines both "male" and "female" in state code to exclude transgender people.

"This is a really dumb law, why did you think this would work. Leave trans people alone," one person wrote. In the box on the form asking about evidence of the allegation, they wrote: "You do realize you are encouraging people to take photos of others (including MINORS) in order to harass and endanger them? This is stupid."

"I'm just wondering how you guys plan on actually enforcing this bill. Are you going to do genital checks before someone uses the bathroom?" another asked. "This law isn't actually going to do anything than ostracize people who are already struggling. ... Instead of worrying about transgender people using the bathroom, how about you worry about the actual issues plauging Utah?"

Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Utah, the sponsor of HB257, has touted the legislation as an effort to protect women and girls in restrooms. In a statement issued through a spokeswoman for the Utah House of Representatives last week, she said, "It's not surprising that activists are taking the time to send false reports. But that isn't a distraction from the importance of the legislation and the protection it provides women across Utah."

Her bill also requires that new construction of state buildings provide single-occupancy or unisex facilities and asks the state to "consider the feasibility" of adding them to existing buildings.

Dougall issued a statement last week to attempt to clear up a misunderstanding about the complaint form his office created in light of the complaints it received. He said his office is tasked only with creating a process to investigate violations of the law by a government entity, not against individuals who use a restroom that does not correspond with their biological sex at birth.

"Further, we will not investigate the actions of any private individuals, nor will we investigate or determine anyone's sex or gender," he said. "We are not required — and have no desire — to intrude on the most intimate aspects of a person's life. In this vein, we remind the public that under both the statute and Utah Criminal Code, an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a 'privacy space.' If we receive lewd or voyeuristic images, we will promptly refer those to law enforcement."

Dougall continued to call out the Legislature in a video posted to his campaign account on X Monday.

"Oh, hi, are you the bathroom monitor?" Dougall says to the camera after flushing a toilet offscreen and stepping out of a restroom stall. "I actually thought the Legislature assigned me to be the bathroom monitor."

He went on to accuse Birkeland of not understanding the bill she sponsored.

"She implied that I didn't care about women's safety in bathrooms. Nothing could be further from the truth," he said. "If this bill were actually about making girls safer through a piece of legislation, it would actually spend some money retrofitting bathrooms and providing greater privacy and greater safety. Instead, it looks like this piece of the bill was really more about show than substance, but it wouldn't be the first time the Legislature did something like that, would it?"

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Bridger Beal-Cvetko covers Utah politics, Salt Lake County communities and breaking news for KSL.com. He is a graduate of Utah Valley University.


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