Salt Lake County GOP punishes Julie Dole, saying her conduct in recorder’s office was 'tantamount to a coup'

Dole maintains her innocence and questions party’s authority to block her from running as a Republican.

(Michael Mangum | Special to the Tribune) Julie Dole speaks with attendees during a mee-and-greet at the recorder election at the county republican Central Committee Meeting at Jordan High School in Sandy, UT on Thursday, August 17, 2017.

Last month, Julie Dole lost her job with Salt Lake County. On Thursday, she lost support from her political party.

Salt Lake County Republicans moved Thursday night to bar Dole from running for public office as a member of the GOP or hold a position in the party for five years, and removed her from her position as Senate precinct chairwoman. The sanctions followed a party investigation and report alleging she misled the public during the years of her boss’ declining mental health and effectively seized control of the recorder’s office in what amounted to a “coup.”

“The [investigative committee] finds Ms. Dole continued a pattern of behavior that included acts of deception, misdirection, misrepresentation, and obstruction,” the party’s investigators wrote in their report.

The party listed allegations that provided its reasoning behind the actions taken against her in a 10-page report. Among them, the party said Dole in August told its investigators it was Ott, not Dole, who wanted to hire Karmen Sanone, Ott’s one-time fiancée.

But in April 2016, amid questions about whether the arrangement violated anti-nepotism ordinances, Dole told the Deseret News she wanted Sanone hired as Ott’s exempt secretary.

“I begged her to come out of retirement,” Dole told the newspaper at the time.

The changed story was part of what the party found was a “continued pattern” of deceit.

In the April 2016 Deseret News story, Dole also denied that Ott and Sanone were in a relationship.

Court documents from 2010 show Ott himself identified Sanone as his then-fiancée, and Sanone is currently battling Ott’s siblings who have asked a judge to appoint them his permanent legal guardians. They currently have temporary guardianship and struck a deal for Ott’s early retirement, effective Aug. 1.

Dole also recently posted dozens of photos on Facebook showing her time with Ott dating back to 2011. She included photos of herself, Ott and Sanone working on Sanone’s Weber County farm, which she said were from 2015.

Dole, a former Salt Lake County Republican Party chairwoman, said the GOP’s actions against her were based on unfounded allegations.

“What happened to the cornerstone premise to our Constitution of a person being innocent until proven guilty?” Dole wrote in a statement. “Since no charges have been brought, there is nothing to find me guilty of other than unfounded and unproven allegations.”

The Republican investigative committee wrote that the allegations reflected poorly on the party.

The party said Dole “knowingly hid from the Republican Party, and the electorate, that Recorder Gary Ott was neither in day-to-day control of his office nor had the ability to be liable for the official acts of his office.”

“In short, Ms. Dole perpetrated or participated in what was tantamount to a ‘coup’ against the electorate of Salt Lake County in effectively seizing control of the Salt Lake County Recorder’s Office,” the party’s investigators wrote.

Last month, Republican insiders chose then-Rep. Adam Gardiner, R-West Jordan, to replace Ott, rather than Dole or several other candidates. Gardiner quickly said he didn’t plan to keep Dole in the office.

In her response, Dole said she was innocent and called the findings “baseless.”

“I question the committee’s ability to enforce the stated discipline,” she added.