Prosecutors filed criminal charges today against a former Utah lawmaker in a case of alleged bribery on Capitol Hill. It stems from allegations of wrongdoing in the state treasurer's race last year.
Today, Salt Lake City prosecutor Sim Gill charged former Republican Rep. Mark Walker with one count of "inducements not to become a candidate," a class B misdemeanor.
Gill said, "There's sufficient evidence that Mr. Walker tried to induce Mr. Ellis from being a candidate while this election was going on and offered to make him his chief deputy at a substantial pay raise."
Last spring, Richard Ellis, at the time a deputy treasurer, and Walker, a lawmaker from Sandy, were facing off in the GOP primary for treasurer, a post Ellis ultimately won.
According to court documents, in March of last year, Carl Empey, an employee with Zions Bank and an associate of Walker's, e-mailed Ellis stating, "Looks like he wants to offer you $160,000 a year to be his deputy."
Ellis believed he was essentially being asked to drop out of the race for what amounted to a $54,000 pay increase. He contacted an attorney in his office who advised him "this type of an offer was illegal."
A week later, Ellis and Walker met for breakfast and Ellis said he told Walker he believed the offer was illegal. When asked about where the money would come from, Walker allegedly told Ellis, "I have talked to the person that can make that happen, and you and I both know who that is."
Walker's attorney, Jim Bradshaw, said the charge actually vindicated his client. He said after months of investigation, it was clear that what happened did not rise to the level of bribery. Instead, he said it's a technical violation of election law and he anticipated some sort of resolution in the case, possibly within a week.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Mark Walker Charged