Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Rolly: GOP activist wins judgment against party officer

By PAUL ROLLY

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Mar 06 2014 06:13 pm • Last Updated Mar 07 2014 07:28 am

The vice chairman of the Utah County Republican Party has withdrawn his formal complaint against a party activist after a judge ruled he had slandered her and her attorney threatened to sue the whole party if the allegations against his client continued.

Just call it more love and kisses among the Utah County GOP.

At a glance

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Orem Justice Court Judge Pro Tem Mark D. Eddy ruled that Vice Chairman Daryl Acumen slandered and libeled Julie Blaney when he accused her of improperly diverting contributions to the party to her own bank account. Acumen made the accusations in writing to the party’s executive committee and verbally in meetings of the party’s central committee.

"The evidence before the court shows that statements published by the defendant included allegations against the plaintiff for misappropriation of Republican Party funds, embezzlement and, more generally, the diversion of funds," Eddy wrote. "The court finds [those allegations] were false."

Eddy added the false statements were libelous because Acumen had access to information showing Blaney had not improperly diverted funds, yet he continued to make the allegations.

Acumen said he is appealing the ruling to 4th District Court, but decided not to go ahead with a formal complaint about Blaney to the party’s executive committee after Blaney’s attorney, Matthew Duffin, threatened to sue all the officers if they allowed Acumen to continue making the allegations.

"It’s just not worth it," Acumen said, adding that he will make his case on appeal.

"Neither I, nor my client will put up with further publication of these false facts in any [Utah County Republican Party] meetings," Duffin wrote to the party officers.

"To say it more clearly, the UCRP must control what Mr. Acumen is allowed to say in his official capacity as the UCRP Vice Chairman or the UCRP will be liable for what he says."

The conflict began last summer when Blaney, a longtime activist in the Utah County Republican Party, was asked to oversee the party’s summer picnic, using a budget of $4,500.


story continues below
story continues below

Blaney said in an affidavit to the court that Acumen disagreed with her efforts to focus the theme of the picnic on the U.S. Constitution, claiming that nobody would come. Blaney also said in the affidavit that Acumen didn’t want to open the picnic with a prayer or flag ceremony.

Much of Acumen’s accusations about diversion of funds center around a $1,000 contribution from businessman Mark Patey. Acumen claimed in meetings and in his written complaint that Blaney had the check written to her and put it in her personal account.

But Patey said in his affidavit that his contribution was never intended for the Republican Party; it was made to help cover production costs of hundreds of tablet-sized U.S. Constitutions that would be distributed at the Utah County "Freedom Concert" as part of the picnic.

Acumen had claimed that Patey had made the contribution to Blaney so he could speak, along with Sen. Mike Lee, at the event.

"I don’t pay to speak at events," Patey wrote in his affidavit. "[I] normally get paid to speak."

Eddy wrote he was most persuaded in making the judgment against Acumen by the affidavit of party secretary Joey Smith.

"Smith states that prior to the event, Mr. Patey’s contribution to the publication of the constitutional pamphlets was discussed and the matter of his speaking at the event was approved by the executive committee," Eddy wrote.

Smith’s affidavit also made it clear that Blaney had done nothing without the knowledge and approval of the executive committee, the judge concluded.

Acumen had first made his complaints to the party’s audit committee and raised concerns about Blaney being a member of that committee.

The chairman of the audit committee was Duffin, who took umbrage at Acumen’s "slanderous" accusations and later became Blaney’s attorney in the lawsuit against the vice chairman.

Blaney asked for and received a financial judgment of $1.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.