Former Provo mayoral candidate says he was offered job to drop out of race

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Former Provo mayoral candidate says he was offered job to drop out of race (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) A former candidate for Provo mayor is raising some allegations against one of his opponents who is now waging a write-in campaign for the office.

In a Facebook post, Larry Walters said Odell Miner tried to get him to drop out of the primary race in exchange for a job. That's a violation of state election law.

Miner, who failed to advance to the general election, denied the allegations.

"There was no offer to Mr. Walters to do anything," Miner told 2News. "I don't know where he drew the conclusions he did."

Walters said he met with Miner June 8 at the request of Provo City Councilman George Stewart. Provo City Council Chair Kim Santiago was also there.

During the meeting, Walters wrote on Facebook, Miner floated the idea of Walters serving as deputy mayor. Walters said they also discussed the risk of the two men splitting the vote if they both ran.

"The intent of the meeting seemed clear to me," Walters wrote. "Even though no one explicitly asked me to withdraw, both councilmembers made it clear that they thought Mr. Miner was more electable and the risks if both of us stayed in the race were substantial."

After Stewart and Santiago left the meeting, Walters wrote, Miner also offered him a job as a city consultant on budget reform in his administration.

The next day, Walters wrote Miner a letter.

"I stated that I was quite troubled following the meeting and that it was my opinion that Mr. Miner’s reference to positions in city government and potential consulting contracts was a violation of state election laws," Walters wrote. "I informed Mr. Miner that, given this interpretation of events, there was simply no way for me to withdraw from the race without appearing to accept what I saw as an illegal offer. I was therefore going to stay in the race."

In a letter a few days later responding to Walters, Miner denied offering him any position. He told 2News Tuesday that Walters' interpretation of events is a "fabrication."

"Neither of the councilmen said anything to him about it and neither did I," Miner said.

Santiago echoed that. She said the group did discuss the implications of both men running, but there was nothing improper.

"There was never a mention that he should step down, ever," Santiago said.

Both men ended up running and failed to advance to the general election. Miner is now running as a write-in candidate.

As for Walters, he's turned his side of the story over to the city attorney.

"The matter has been referred to the City Prosecutor for consideration," said Provo Deputy Mayor Corey Norman in a statement. "To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest any investigation will likely be referred to another agency."

Stewart told 2News, in hindsight, he regrets setting up the meeting in the first place.

"The purpose of the meeting was to get the two of them to come together on which one would be the best candidate and which one would be willing to run and support the other," Stewart said. "Obviously didn't turn out that way."