Becker’s spokesman demoted after being outed as online commenter

Posted at 1:50 PM, Aug 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-12 15:50:25-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Mayor Ralph Becker’s office has demoted its spokesman after he was outed by a newspaper for commenting on website stories.

In a letter of disciplinary action obtained by FOX 13, Art Raymond was told he would no longer be speaking to the press or public on behalf of Becker. Instead, he would be reassigned to focus on “content creation and development” for the mayor’s office, take a pay cut and be placed on probation for six months.

Raymond was outed by the Salt Lake Tribune as an anonymous commenter on several articles about the mayor and the election, criticizing Becker’s opponents and the news stories themselves.

“The ethical questions raised by the curious timing of the Salt Lake Tribune’s ‘discovery’ of your identity notwithstanding, your actions reflected poorly on the Mayor, specifically, and Salt Lake City, generally,” said the letter written by Becker’s chief of staff, David Everitt.

“While you believed you were primarily if not entirely attempting to provide a critical viewpoint regarding the quality of journalism and to advance the civic dialogue beyond the narrow focus on the articles in question, some of your comments went past that point, becoming both political in nature and uncivil in tone and tenor.”

Salt Lake City’s human resources department investigated the use of city computers and employee time for any potential violations of law. The letter indicates city policies were violated, but did not state that any laws had been broken.