A new report says Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott performed no financial oversight of his office for more than three years, and his chief deputy may not have the legal authority to perform the official acts of the elected recorder.
The limited review from the State Auditor John Dougall’s office obtained by UtahPolicy.com, says there is no evidence that Ott performed any financial oversight of his office stretching back to January of 2014. The examination also concluded that the employment of Ott’s secretary, Karmen Sanone, may have violated numerous county ordinances since Sanone has claimed to be Ott’s girlfriend or fiancee, and she tried to become Ott’s legal guardian before his family took over his care.
Ott’s chief deputy, Julie Dole, has claimed Ott delegated much of his authority for running the office to her because that was Ott’s management style.
The letter from the Auditor to Salt Lake County Council Chair Steve DeBry also discovered that the Salt Lake County Clerk was unable to produce paperwork from Ott appointing Dole as his Chief Deputy, which is required by county ordinance. However, the report does say that there is ample evidence to show that Ott intended to appoint Dole to the position, despite the lack of paperwork.
Last month, a judge ruled Ott’s family would become his legal guardian, which raised another legal issue according to the Auditor’s report.
The letter says once the troubled county recorder was appointed a legal guardian, it isn’t clear that he is now liable for “all official acts” of the chief deputy, as provided for in the same ordinance requiring the appointment of that deputy in writing. Because of that legal conundrum, the Auditor’s office says likely Dole lacks the legal authority for financial oversight of the office, since she no longer reports to the elected recorder.
Another issue raised by the Auditor’s investigation concerns Karmen Sanone, Ott’s secretary who also has been identified as his girlfriend and possibly his fiancee.
The probe says it’s likely that Ott cohabitated with Sanone during her employment, which raises a whole host of legal issues.
Sanone could be considered a “household member” of Ott’s, and she was paid a total of $138,000 in salary and benefits from county funds over the past two years. County ordinance prohibits the appointment of a relative to any “employment paid out of county funds, except for temporary or seasonal employment.”
A county officer is also prohibited from “directly or indirectly” supervising a relative. The letter says Ott is identified as Sanone’s supervisor, and that Sanone regularly communicates with Dole, which appears to violate that particular county ordinance. Additionally, the examination of the recorder’s office found many employees were aware of the relationship between Ott and Sanone, including Dole.
A further potential of county ordinance occurred when Sanone claimed she should be appointed Ott’s guardian because of a 2015 document wherein Ott allegedly nominated her to be his guardian. The letter from Dougall’s office says that arrangement appears to run afoul of the law.
Perhaps most damningly for Sanone, the letter says “We believe it was inappropriate for the Recorder and Chief Deputy Recorder to allow Employee’s employment to continue in the manner it did.”
Concerns about Ott have been growing since he was found wandering in the cold in Tooele County in February 2016. His family reached a deal for Ott to resign from office on August 1, paving the way for the Salt Lake County GOP to pick a replacement. At least three candidates, including Dole, have stepped forward, with many more expecting to pursue the job.
The report concluded that there was inadequate financial oversight of the Recorder’s office and insufficient public accountability for the office. The letter also referenced some questionable past expenditures, which is a reference to Sanone’s compensation.