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John Daley ReportingThere are new questions tonight for Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman. With an investigation already underway, newly released e-mails now show another county official raising red flags over the mayor's hiring practices.
The DA's office is investigating whether any laws were broken when the mayor's office hired a so-called "phantom" bookkeeping employee who worked at a local non-profit facility. These emails show there were major concerns being raised by another county official a year ago.
The allegation -- that Mayor Nancy Workman approved county money to pay for a bookkeeping position at the club, an employee who reported to the financial manager there, Aisza Workman--the mayor's daughter.
Patti Pavey, Health Department Executive Director: "I have heard her referred to as our "ghost" employee" read one email from June of 2003 from Health Department Executive Director Patti Pavey to her boss Human Services Director Kerry Steadman. "In light of the recent ethics training," she writes, "I do not believe this is good public policy. We have no job description. We have no idea what she is doing for Mayor."
The Mayor's office declined our request for an interview today. Steadman did not return our calls and Pavey was not in the office today. One County Councilor says the mayor has a right to keep silent, but an obligation to explain more.
Joe Hatch, (D) County Council Member: "But as a public, elected official, she should talk more than she is talking and answer questions."
Meantime, the mayor's election opponent says the larger problem is an "anything goes" attitude in County government.
Peter Corroon, (D) Candidate for County Mayor: "I think that's the attitude. We're in power. We can do what we want and no one is going to care about it. I think it's time for the citizens to wake up and say it's time for us to do something about this."
But one Republican Council Member defends Workman, saying Democrats are making hay over a legitimate job.
Russell Skousen, (R) County Council Member: "The Boys and Girls Club takes care of two to three thousand kids who would otherwise be latchkey kids. I think that's being lost in this debate. That is a legitimate object of county funding. It was simply that the funding didn't go through the proper procedures."
The stakes are very high here. If the independent panel looking into this were to find a misuse of public money in excess of more than $5,000, that could lead to a felony charge for the Mayor. If that happens, under Utah law she must go on paid administrative leave until the matter is resolved.