- Associated Press - Friday, July 14, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Embattled Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott’s family members will remain his temporary legal guardians while he’s treated at a medical facility, a judge decided Friday.

The ruling comes amid increasingly urgent questions about Ott’s mental capacity, The Deseret News reported (https://bit.ly/2v1d64H ). Ott has previously appeared befuddled in public and struggled to answer basic questions about his salary and address, but hasn’t stepped down from his elected position and can’t be legally removed from office.

Judge Bruce Lubeck ruled Friday against Ott’s aide Karmen Sanone, who’s been identified as his girlfriend. She has controlled his finances since 2014, according to an attorney appointed to represent Ott’s interests.

She’d asked the judge to remove his brother, Marty Ott, and his sister, Kathy Ott Chamberlain, and give her legal permission to make decisions for him. Her lawyer produced a document Ott signed in 2015 nominating her as a guardian.

Lubeck ordered Ott, 64, to undergo a mental evaluation before the next hearing in the case and told the two sides to try to settle the spat through out-of-court mediation.

Public concern about Ott’s condition has been growing for more than a year, and Salt Lake County council members have raised concerns that he is being manipulated by his staff. Sanone, though, has disputed the assertion that Ott isn’t actively involved in the office.

Ott was elected to a six-year term ending in 2020 and cannot legally be forced to resign. His taxpayer-funded position pays about $150,000 a year.

While an audit found Ott had “very little oversight or involvement” in his office’s activities, it also found the office complies with all state and county laws, generates few complaints and delivers its services at reasonable prices.

County leaders have acknowledged that criminal activity is not involved in the case — and short of that, neither the council nor the mayor can force Ott to resign.


Information from: Deseret News, https://www.deseretnews.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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