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San Juan County (Ut): Ethics Complaint Dismissed

San Juan County (Ut): Ethics Complaint Dismissed
November 14
03:06 2019

Steven C. Boos

San Juan County (Ut): Ethics Complaint Dismissed


Halloween is over, but Boos managed to avoid one last trick.

Utah’s Office of Professional Conduct has dismissed a complaint filed against attorney Steven C. Boos, accusing him of “conflict of interest,” and calling him a “bully” and for being “awful.”

After a four-month investigation the unofficial “complaint,” filed by former San Juan County Administrator Kelly Pehrson, in July was dismissed by the OPC November 1.

The San Juan saga has captured the attention of county residents like a Hollywood blockbuster, with a dash of political intrigue, a struggle for power, the slow-moving wheels of justice, the faintest whiff of racism and a slight flavoring of chicanery.

The story unfolded slowly, beginning in 2012 when the Navajo Nation sued San Juan County over gerrymandered voting districts for the County Board of Commissioners and the School Board.

Boos represented the tribe.

Each time the county was ordered to redraw the voting districts, San Juan officials still managed to keep two of the three commission seats in predominately non-native districts. This was in spite of the fact that natives make up nearly half of the eligible voters.

Finally, in 2017, a special master was assigned to redraw the voting districts and this resulted in Native Americans making up the majority in two of the three districts.

In the 2018 election natives won the majority of the county commission seats for the first time. Almost immediately steps were taken to undo the election results.

Even before the election, the eligibility of Democrat Willie Grayeyes was challenged, as some officials claimed that he did not reside within the county.

In his one-paragraph complaint to the OPC Pehrson noted that Boos, who successfully sued the county, had a conflict of interest to now be advising Grayeyes and Commission Chairman Kenneth Maryboy, also a member of the Navajo Nation.

In his nine-page response, Boos highlighted county officials’ long history of racial discrimination. Boos, based in Colorado, is a member of the Navajo Nation Bar Association and has represented tribal interests for decades. He has known Maryboy and Grayeyes for nearly 25 years.

In addition to noting the history of discrimination, Boos also told of the alleged blatant conflicts of interest of several county officials.

While Pehrson was county administrator, one of his relatives, Kendall Laws, was overseeing the county’s legal matters. In this capacity, according to Boos, Laws initiated an “unlawful investigation” into Grayeyes.

Perhaps Laws had a conflict as his father, Kelly Laws, was Grayeyes’ opponent on the District 2 race.

Kelly Laws is also Pehrson’s uncle.

Before the election, Grayeyes was removed from the ballot by County Clerk John David Neilson, before a federal court ordered Grayeyes to be reinstated on the ballot.

The court found that the clerk had improperly “backdated” the key piece of evidence in the case. This was, reportedly, done, so a complaint against Grayeyes would meet that statute of limitations.

San Juan County (Ut): Ethics Complaint Dismissed - overview

Summary: San Juan County (Ut): Ethics Complaint Dismissed


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