Council concerned about Salt Lake County Recorder’s health after Ott struggles to answer simple questions

Posted at 6:07 PM, Oct 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-06 20:07:37-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah --- Aimee Winder Newton, a Salt Lake County Councilor, says it's clear that County Recorder Gary Ott is not well.

“It was incredibly painful to watch on Tuesday as he tried to answer those questions,” Winder Newton said.

A recent audit found that Ott has very little oversight or involvement in his office. When councilors asked some follow-up questions about the audit on Tuesday, they say they became even more concerned about his health.

Some of the questions that were asked were simple, like 'What's the name of your deputy recorder?' and, 'What is your address?'

“We asked his address and he couldn't tell us his address, so there were things that showed he couldn't answer basic questions,” Winder Newton said.

However, his Chief Deputy Recorder, Julie Dole, continues to insist Ott's health is fine.

Salt Lake County Councilor Steven DeBry describes the situation as frustrating.

“That is just in my opinion a blatantly false statement by her,” DeBry said.

Elected in 2014 for a six-year term, there's no state statute that allows the council to remove Ott from office. However, now a group of 22 concerned citizens, including Shon Harris, are planning to call for an investigation of Chief Deputy Dole for malfeasance.

“I’ve just noticed the deliberate attempt to either mask the situation or outright hide the situation that is very serious,” Harris said.

In response to a request for an interview, Ott sent the following statement:

"The audit clearly states that the office is meeting its statutory duties and functioning in a manner beneficial to the public. As I stated to the council, I am proud of the office and the work we are doing. The allegations we have heard go beyond the scope of the audit and are personal attacks that are unfounded."

However, councilors are concerned these are not the words of Ott.

“Quite frankly, it makes me mad that it seems like people are taking advantage of him,” Winder Newton said.

Harris said there are financial concerns as well.

“Right now a $180,000 salary for somebody who the audit report said is not heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of his office, that's a lot of money to be spending for someone who isn't involved,” Harris said.

The County Council is also looking at decreasing Ott’s salary during budget discussions and reaching out to the legislature to try to create some kind of state statute allowing them to remove an elected official under these circumstances.