Investigative reporting

At The Salt Lake Tribune, I’m constantly balancing a number of daily stories with longer-term feature pieces. This month-long project began with an anonymous letter that accused the mayor in small-town Grantsville City of using physical aggression and bullying to intimidate his political opponents. It took time, but I persuaded six sources to speak with me on the record and found a number of outside sources who corroborated their experiences.

I found out our competitor, The Deseret News, had received the same anonymous letter, so I worked tirelessly not only to get the story right, but also to get it first. The piece published on the front page, scooping the competition, and was the most-read story of the day online, reaching 16,000 readers. It also led the city council to launch an investigation into the mayor’s conduct, which is still ongoing.

Read the full story online here or see the story in print here.

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This Utah mayor aggressively pushes, grabs and yells to get his way, according to 6 people who’ve worked with him

Former Grantsville Recorder Rachel Wright says she’s used to gruff characters. After all, she served in the Air Force for more than a dozen years and deployed as far as Kyrgyzstan.

Still, nothing prepared her to work for the city’s mayor, Brent Marshall, whose physical and verbal aggression and workplace harassment she says ultimately led her to leave her job.

The final incident occurred in 2012, when the mayor called her into his office after they’d had a dispute over his handling of a contract negotiation. From across the hall, she said other employees could hear him screaming at her.

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Former Grantsville Recorder Rachel Wright says she’s used to gruff characters. After all, she served in the Air Force for more than a dozen years and deployed as far as Kyrgyzstan.

Still, nothing prepared her to work for the city’s mayor, Brent Marshall, whose physical and verbal aggression and workplace harassment she says ultimately led her to leave her job.

The final incident occurred in 2012, when the mayor called her into his office after they’d had a dispute over his handling of a contract negotiation. From across the hall, she said other employees could hear him screaming at her.

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She got up to leave.

“He grabbed my shoulders and he pushed me and made me sit down,” she recalled. “He pushed me into one of the chairs and told me that I wasn’t leaving.”

Two weeks later, she left the city.

“It really shook me up,” Wright said. “I had just come back from deployment and so I was having a hard time from that and then when I came back, I had to deal with a whole bunch of stuff with [Marshall]. So it really… it set me into a pretty good depression.”

Five other individuals who have had political dealings with the mayor told The Salt Lake Tribune that he runs the city of nearly 11,000 people in Tooele County in a bullying manner, sometimes using physical aggression to intimidate those who disagree with him.

Two have worked with him in their capacity as elected officials. Two worked for him as city employees. Two others were residents trying to get an initiative pushed through.

None filed a formal complaint at the time of the incidents. Now, they hope that speaking out will improve the mayor’s behavior.