Mayoral candidate under fire regarding car purchased from city

Posted at 9:47 PM, Nov 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-01 23:47:30-04

PLESANT GROVE, Utah -- Among the names on signs currently lining the streets of Pleasant Grove is that of former mayor Mike Daniels, who is vying for a second term in office while defending his first.

“I’m happy to face whoever it is, or whatever group it is, that’s concerned about this kind of questionable activity,” said Daniels, who entered the city’s mayoral race this summer.

Coming into question is what happened in 2008, when Daniels, who was serving as mayor, purchased a 2003 Trailblazer from the city, a car that was designated to be put up for public auction.

“I went and bid for a vehicle and my understanding was, I was told, I paid the highest of anybody that bid for a vehicle at the time,” Daniels said.

But the city has no record of Daniels’ bid, according to public records that show how much people paid for certain items. The documents FOX 13 News obtained show the Trailblazer never made it on to the city's list of surplus items up for auction, and that Daniels purchased it for $1,800—a price that some retailers would consider a deal even today.

“At the time it had about 74,000, 75,000 miles on it,” Daniels explained. “It has places where equipment has been removed from it. There was a hole in the ceiling where they had to patch, and just general repairs and tires that needed to be changed.”

Daniels said he doesn’t know why the vehicle was left off the surplus list, and at the time, Pleasant Grove's city council had the same question.

“He was able to buy it, which is fine,” former councilman Jeff Wilson said. “My concern was why it wasn’t on the list to be purchased by everyone else.”

Following the sale, Wilson said the council inquired about what happened but was never given an explanation.

“I don’t remember ever getting a definite answer of what happened,” Wilson said. “We do know that it was paid for, but it was never answered why it was pulled."

City Administrator Scott Darrington, who was not in office at the time, said if a sale was intentionally kept from the public to benefit a public official, it would be in violation of state ethics codes.

“That would be bothersome to me if we were somehow skirting that,” Darrington said. “I don’t think that’s the way we should do it.”

However, at the time, the council decided to drop the issue.

“We did as much as we were able to for the understanding we had,” Wilson said. “We couldn’t go any further for what we had, and that’s why we stopped and just accepted it and moved on.”

Daniels believes the only reason questions about his first term have surfaced again is because he’s a strong candidate for a second one.

“They don’t have all their facts,” Daniels said, “And the part that is concerning to me is that we’re now in 2013, and this is just coming to light.”

Shortly after announcing his campaign, Daniels said he received anonymous threats regarding the car sale. According to him, if he did not drop out of the race, the person threatened to go public with what occurred.

“The hard part about it is they’re not stepping forward,” Daniels said. “They’re just coming at me like a ghost.”