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Herriman Mayor releases letter to residents in wake of unauthorized spending allegations

Posted at 6:47 PM, Dec 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-18 23:37:29-05

HERRIMAN, Utah — The Mayor of Herriman released a letter to residents Tuesday following allegations of unauthorized spending.

Mayor David Watts said last week he would not resign, despite calls from members of the city council and residents.

The city council has asked Watts to pay back just under $950 they said was spent without authorization. They claim he used a company-issued credit card during two trips to Washington D.C.

Watt released the following letter Tuesday to his website, saying he apologized:

“Residents of Herriman,

I wanted to take the opportunity to directly address the citizens of Herriman with my sincerest apologies. In July 2018, it was brought to the City Council’s and my attention that I had recently not followed the City’s purchasing policy. At that time I acknowledged my mistakes and offered to rectify the situation, as an act of good faith, by paying back the questioned purchases while working with City Staff to resolve any issues with the receipts and documentation.

I appolgize for the mistakes I made in not getting my receipts in in a timely manner, for the hassle it caused staff, and the need for additional documentation in some cases. I apologize that my actions brought negative attention to our City, and that it took much longer than originally anticipated to resolve. I regret that until recently I was unable to address this directly with the public, who deserved an explanation.

When this issue was originally raised in the July 11th meeting, I immediately began working to resolve the concerns that were raised. Over the next few weeks I made multiple requests for additional documentation or clarification on the items of concern with no response. I have heard and understand the citizens’ frustration of ‘why didn’t he just pay it back in July?’, but up until the December 12th meeting, I had not been given an itemized list of the amounts I should repay. I hope some can understand my dilemma of not being able to pay back an unquantified amount. It was then I was informed by the District Attorney’s office that the situation had been previously referred to them for further investigation.

This began one of the most stressful periods of my family’s life. To find that I was under criminal investigation was surprising and terrifying. My wife and I reached out to an attorney we know for advice. He would be the first of two attorneys to impress upon us the importance of allowing the District Attorney’s office to complete their investigation before attempting to resolve this situation with the City, which would include refraining from making public or private statements on the matter. This went against everything inside me that has always valued transparency, but I was repeatedly reminded that the stakes had been raised, as a criminal trial could have serious consequences for the City, myself, and my family — and I just needed to be patient and let the system do its job.

November 27, 2018 was a day that was filled with relief and hope. I received word the District Attorney’s office had completed their review, and felt there were better places to address the matter outside of the criminal justice system. I was excited to get things moving again and promptly turned in all necessary documentation. I asked to be made aware of any continued issue, and was told the next week that City Staff would no longer be working with me on this as it was now in the City Council’s hands. I was disappointed this would mean another week or two before it could be brought to the public, but was grateful for the opportunity to present information that I had been unable to, and clear up some misinformation.

Bringing you to this point, I now want to share with you my thought process going into the meetings on December 12, 2018. I had spent so much time focusing on explaining how my actions were not a misuse of public funds and were free of criminal intent, I had lost sight of the Council’s original concerns of my not properly following purchasing policies. I went into the meeting prepared to show all proper documentation and timelines I felt showed legitimate and accurate receipts, my repeated attempts to rectify the situation before and after the District Attorney investigation began and concluded, and I had not tried to personally gain from the use of public funds. I apologize that my attempt to explain my actions came across as unapologetic and defensive.

Due to purchasing policy infractions, I paid back $1,244.85 to the City of Herriman by the end of the Dec 12 2018 City Council Meeting. I take full responsibility for my failure to follow policy. Again, I apologize for how this has impacted our City and her citizens.

David Watts
Mayor, Herriman City”