Sure, we’ve seen malfeasance in Utah politics — sex scandals, run-of-the-mill corruption, pay-to-play. But I can’t recall ever seeing a public servant conspiring so ruthlessly to deny a Utahn a fundamental constitutional right as we just saw in San Juan County. I’m referring to San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson, who helped falsify and backdate an election complaint and used it to disqualify Democrat Willie Grayeyes from the County Commission race, asserting Grayeyes was ineligible to run because he didn’t live in the county. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge David Nuffer righted the wrong, ordering Grayeyes’ name be put back on the ballot, basing his decision, in part, on the clerk’s deceit.
Grayeyes’ candidacy was challenged March 20 by Wendy Black, at the time a Republican candidate for the County Commission seat and her complaint was all of three sentences long, stating it had “been brought to my attention” that Grayeyes “may” live outside the county.
That was it. Without a shred of proof, the law is explicit that Nielson should have dismissed the claim on the spot. Instead, he launched an investigation.
That inquiry was already completed a few weeks later when he emailed Black, asking her to refile a formal complaint that would meet the requirements of the law. She wasn’t happy, but came into his office on April 16 anyway.