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Politics & Government

Allegations Of Harassment At Salt Lake County GOP Bring Up Unresolved Incidents With Utah Democrats

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After allegations of bullying by Salt Lake County GOP leaders, Nadia Mahallati, vice chair of the Utah Democratic Party, said she wants her own party to deal with unresolved issues of harassment.

Prominent Utah Republicans quickly responded to The Salt Lake Tribune’s report about the Salt Lake County GOP last weekend.

Several women, including former state Rep. Kim Coleman and current county Councilmember Aimee Winder Newton, alleged Dave Robinson, the party’s communications director, bullied them. They also said Scott Miller, the party chair, didn’t take their complaints seriously.

Gov. Spencer Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Utah Republican Party Chair Derek Brown and members of the state Legislature condemned the behavior. Miller resigned shortly after, though the Tribune reports he is still running to replace Brown as state party chair.

The incident has brought up a discussion about a similar situation that happened on the other side of the political aisle in Utah.

In 2017, several women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Rob Miller, a candidate for Utah Democratic Party chair.

Nadia Mahallati, the current vice chair of the party, was running against Rob Miller at the time. Although she didn’t make any allegations against him, Mahallati said she would have loved to see the same kind of response from Democrats then as what Republicans have offered now.

“We're not going to stop talking about this until it's actually resolved,” Mahallati said. “We can't just pretend that it didn't happen. We need to address this. And there hasn't been the political will to do that.”

As vice chair, Mahallati said she has been working to strengthen the party’s anti-harassment policies. She still wants to see a thorough investigation into the complaints.

“This Rob Miller case has still just been in kind of a purgatory where we don't know what's going on,” she said. “It's never been officially dismissed. It's just there.”

Since the incident in 2017, the Democratic Party has had three different chairs. Jeff Merchant currently holds the position, and he said he agrees with Mahallati that the party has failed to address the situation.

“I would like to see these issues resolved as well, and any victim of sexual harassment in this party be apologized to,” Merchant said.

Meanwhile, Salt Lake County Republicans are looking for ways to move forward.

In a video, Winder Newton said one thing that could help is more people running for office.

“If you’ve thought about it, and you have integrity and principles and you’re willing to work hard, you should do it,” she said. “And the more good people we have that run, the more it weeds out bad actors like these guys.”

She also said it’s important for victims to stand up for themselves and for others to support them when they do.

A press release from the Salt Lake County GOP’s Executive Committee said they are “committed to receiving any and all complaints and will guarantee that they are treated with respect and consideration.”

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