Lehi police side with Sen. Todd Weiler in dispute with top GOP donor, reject allegations of extortion plot

Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Sen. Todd Weiler, speaks during a panel discussion at the Hinckley Institute, during a discussion on how religion and politics mix, Monday, October 3, 2016.

Lehi police released files Wednesday that conclude “no crime was committed” by state Sen. Todd Weiler, after investigating allegations that he offered a woman $1 million to file false sexual harassment claims to smear a political rival.

Dave Bateman, CEO of the Entrata software firm and a huge Republican Party donor, made the assertion.

“I am obviously relieved to have my name cleared,” said Weiler, R-Woods Cross.

“The police were very thorough and professional. I’m sorry they had to spend time on this frivolous claim. In my opinion, it was politically motivated publicity stunt by Mr. Bateman to try to get people to the [GOP] caucuses to sign the Keep My Voice petition,” to overturn Utah’s law allowing candidates to use signature-gathering to get on the ballot, “and I don’t think it worked.”

Bateman, who has become a darling of the ultraconservative faction of the GOP by bankrolling party lawsuits against the signature-gathering law, criticized the decision by Lehi Police in a Facebook post.

“It was clear to me the investigation was compromised from my first meeting with the detective. I provided the detective with a mountain of evidence, some of which he flat-out refused to even receive from me,” Bateman wrote.

He promised to post more of it in an online video late Thursday, “and you can decide for yourself what happened.”

The Utah County business executive created a furor last month when he complained to police and released a video online saying Weiler tried to offer his girlfriend, Emily Estrada, “$1 million to make sexual-harassment allegations against me.”

To back up his allegation, Bateman released a voicemail that Weiler had sent to Samantha Griffin, a friend of Bateman’s girlfriend. Both were employees at Entrata at the time.

The voicemail says, “It’s Todd Weiler. At the Jazz game, you were talking to some of my very well-connected friends. And now I have another friend who is a lawyer, who thinks he could get your friend $1 million if she doesn’t go to Europe. I think you know what I mean. Give me a call so we can talk.”

Weiler has said he feels that Estrada indeed was sexually harassed as Bateman cut her hours and changed her job opportunities when their relationship ended, but she was having trouble finding a lawyer to represent her. Weiler said a lawyer friend figured the woman could win up to $1 million if she pursued a lawsuit.

Also, Weiler earlier said Griffin had said “her co-worker had just been invited on an international trip with Mr. Bateman and was conflicted as to whether she should go. I was saying she needs to decide if she’s going to be his girlfriend or if she’s going to be a plaintiff. … Well, she did go on the trip, and she’s his girlfriend again.”

Police interviewed attorney Alan Mortenson, who confirmed he is the lawyer Weiler had talked to about potentially representing Estrada. He said he asked Weiler to relay the message that “it could potentially be [worth] $1 million depending on how the facts shake out,” but only if Estrada did not go on the trip with Bateman.

Police interviewed Griffin and wrote that she reported talking to Estrada “on several occasions about David’s sexual harassment toward her.”

Griffin told police that Weiler’s voicemail “wasn’t intended to be extortion but to have her advise Emily of an attorney that is willing to help.” Griffin also told police she has left Entrata “because David [Bateman] was interfering with her work and personal life.”

In a police interview with Estrada and Bateman, Estrada confirmed the two had broken off a relationship earlier and she had talked to attorneys “but she didn’t explain what kind of case she was inquiring about.”

Estrada told police that she and Bateman were boyfriend and girlfriend again and “she received a more flexible schedule while he directly supervised her.”

In an earlier Tribune interview, Bateman said Weiler and others were attacking him because “because I paid off the [$410,000] debt of the Republican Party [from lawsuits over the election law] and have been fighting for First Amendment rights so the party can choose the way it chooses its nominees.”