SALT LAKE CITY — A new report from Utah’s auditor concludes an embattled former Salt Lake County elected official appears to have had little oversight over his office’s finances for years, reinforcing an earlier investigation that found recorder Gary Ott had little involvement in his job.
The report from state Auditor John Dougall released Monday follows more than a year of public speculation about Ott’s mental capacity and a deal his family struck with county officials last month for the Republican to resign his office Tuesday.
Ott is being treated in a medical facility, and his family is serving as his legal guardian. A lawyer for the family has declined to discuss his medical condition. But court documents say he has “mental incapacity that is not temporary in nature.”
County officials could not force Ott to resign. But they worried he was being manipulated by his staff, including an aide who was also identified as Ott’s girlfriend.
Dougall’s report, addressed to Salt Lake County Council chair Steve DeBry, says the aide’s employment may have violated county nepotism rules because Ott appeared to be living with the woman and serving as her direct supervisor.
Ott’s aide Karmen Sanone, who also attempted to be appointed as Ott’s legal guardian, did not have a listed number where she could be reached for comment.
Ott’s chief deputy, Julie Dole, said Tuesday that Ott described Sanone as his fiance years ago, but he had stopped using that term more recently. She said did not know whether they were in a personal relationship. Dole, who was sworn in Tuesday to serve temporarily as the recorder, said only Ott had the power to control Sanone’s employment status.
Dole said Ott delegated office management to her, and the office’s expenses were appropriately managed.
Public concern about Ott has swirled after he was found by police walking along a highway in January 2016, wearing light clothes despite frigid temperatures and speaking incoherently. After a county audit found Ott had little involvement in the office, he appeared befuddled when county council members questioned him about the audit. Ott gave jumbled answers at the hearing and struggled to answer basic questions such as “What’s your address?”
Ott was elected to a six-year term ending in 2020 and was collecting about $150,000 annually.
Salt Lake County agreed to pay him a $35,000 severance under the resignation deal.