CW Cover Story: ‘Fast Bucks’

City Weekly’s Stephen Dark takes an in-depth look at the still-unfolding dispute (involving claims and counter-claims of possible criminal wrongdoing) between three luminaries of the Utah Democratic Party: Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, political consultant Donald Dunn, and state Rep. Justin Miller.

Reports Dark:

Utah’s Democrats fight to hold ground in Utah politics. Not only are there few Democrats in elected office, but when a dispute erupts among the few in prominent positions, it can ensnare a swath of party members. Take, for instance, the early May 2015 spate of news stories involving Democratic Party luminaries Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, state Rep. Justin Miller, D-Salt Lake City, and former congressional candidate/now political-consultant Donald Dunn. The roots of this lingering scandal can be traced back to one explosive confrontation on Oct. 13, 2014.

On that day, the three men met at the offices of the Exoro Group, a public affairs agency in the elegant Crandall building in downtown Salt Lake City. McAdams and Dunn looked upon Miller as a friend and in Dunn’s case, his protégé.

Miller had worked on both men’s campaigns: Dunn’s 2002 unsuccessful U.S. congressional bid and McAdams’ 2012 mayoral campaign. McAdams then appointed Miller to become Salt Lake County associate deputy mayor, a newly created position (Miller went on to be elected to the House in late 2014, and now represents District 40).

By the end of the meeting, however, the kind regard both men held for Miller was well on its way to becoming a casualty not so much of politics as bitter allegations of betrayal and criminal wrongdoing, including the alleged embezzlement of nearly $30,000 from McAdams’ campaign.