Salt Lake City, UT – Yesterday afternoon, Ashley Bunton, the managing editor at the Moab Sun News, tweeted that John David Nielson, the San Juan County clerk, will not be prosecuted by the Grand County Attorney’s Office. This unfortunate development follows a string of controversies that have occurred in San Juan County over the past year.
On July 16, 2018, John David Nielson admitted in a deposition that he had falsified a document that led to the initial removal of Willie Grayeyes from the ballot for San Juan County commissioner. Shortly thereafter, U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer found that “Nielson ceased to be a neutral actor and combined the roles of investigator and prosecutor” by soliciting the affidavit that was then falsified, and by initiating an investigation into the matter of Grayeyes’ residency, both of which were outside the clerk’s authority.
While this was proceeding, the San Juan County Attorney Kendall Laws referred a separate investigation of possible fraud on the part of Grayeyes to Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings. Once Rawlings decided that Grayeyes had not committed fraud, Laws transferred the referral from Davis County down to the Grand County Attorney’s Office to investigate Nielson, which brings us to this latest news.
“This was not simply a ‘lapse in judgment,’ as Nielson claims,” said Chase Thomas, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah. “Falsifying documents is a serious crime. Not only that, Mr. Nielson abused his power and acted outside the scope of his authority. He admitted his crimes and he should be held accountable for his actions.
“To hear that Nielson may escape prosecution sets a dangerous precedent for our system of government. Citizens must be able to trust that their government officials are acting with the utmost degree of ethics and honesty. This incident is only one in a long string of hidden or brazen acts of corruption in San Juan County. We must not allow them to continue.”