The founder of Keep My Voice, a group pushing a ballot initiative to repeal Utah’s dual path for candidates to get on the ballot, has been making some shocking, but unproven, allegations on social media this week. In fact, there are several good reasons why skepticism of his claims might be warranted.
Dave Bateman claimed a woman in his employ was approached by political opponents of Keep My Voice and was offered “a million dollars” to make a false sexual harassment claim against him. That’s a very serious allegation that should have been reported to law enforcement.
In a Facebook video on Thursday night, Bateman elaborated on the claim, saying his employee was contacted by an unnamed “political lawyer” who told her she would get “no less than a million dollars” if she went through with that claim.
UtahPolicy.com reached Bateman via Facebook messenger on Friday morning to ask if he had any evidence to back up his claims.
“I don’t have all the facts yet,” said Bateman. “But I have enough to know something very inappropriate took place.”
Bateman clarified he had no “personal knowledge” of the claims he said were leveled by his employee, but he does think a criminal investigation is warranted. However, neither he nor his employee has contacted law enforcement about the situation.
“I suspect one, and possibly two, people will end up being criminally prosecuted for this,” said Bateman.
Bateman also told UtahPolicy.com he had no firsthand knowledge that the alleged bribery attempt took place, raising questions about his claims.
If Bateman does think a criminal act occurred, airing the allegations on social media instead of going to authorities also raises questions.
A former prosecutor with experience in the Utah Attorney General’s office, who spoke to UtahPolicy.com on background, says Bateman taking the situation public serves no purpose other than to tip off the person making the alleged bribe that they’ve been found out.
“If there was bribery going on, wouldn’t you want law enforcement to look at it?” the former prosecutor said. “Law enforcement has the tools to corroborate the story.” Bateman and his employee should have immediately reported the incident to law enforcement.
They explained that Bateman’s public declaration gives the person who allegedly offered money to his employee time to cover their tracks, making any investigation into criminal activity much more difficult.
The standard procedure in a case like this, they said, would be to have the woman contact the person offering the money while law enforcement surveilled the conversation to provide critical evidence in any investigation. That’s likely not possible with Bateman’s public declaration.
There’s one other factor resulting from Bateman’s social media blitz. He could have unwittingly put his employee at risk.
Offering someone a million dollars to make a false allegation suggests this is a sophisticated operation, if real, to take down Bateman. If someone is that bold, said the prosecutor, if the recipient exposes them it could result in retaliation.
In fact, in his Facebook video, Bateman says the woman who told him about the alleged plot is “terrified they will come after her” if she reveals their name. But, Bateman may have put his employee in danger of retaliation by publicizing the supposed plot against him.
Bateman going public in such a high profile way may make any legal investigation ultimately impossible. Our expert tells us Bateman has weaponized and sensationalized the claims in such a way that law enforcement would have a more difficult job.
There’s another concern here as well. Bateman is leveling allegations that are, so far, unfounded, while naming names. In his Facebook video posted Thursday night, he said the woman was approached by someone at a “Buckshot Caucus” gathering at a Jazz game. He then went on to single out GOP Chairman Rob Anderson, Sen. Curt Bramble, and Rep. Mike McKell as members of Buckshot, insinuating they are guilty by association.
Even worse, it appears Bateman may have slandered the organizers of Count My Vote by drawing a direct line between the group and this purported plot.
“It’s just shocking to me that these people who are affiliated with Count My Vote, are going to these measures to undermine me and attack me,” he said.
A spokesperson for Count My Vote said Bateman’s remarks aren’t worth a comment.