SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski has hired Ken Bullock — the former director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns who resigned amid controversy — to work in intergovernmental relations, the mayor’s spokesman confirmed Thursday.
Bullock resigned from the league earlier this year, the day before a state audit reported that he improperly charged about $57,000 to the taxpayer-funded group’s credit card for loans to himself for personal purposes and racked up about $130,000 in questionable charges due to lack of receipts.
Prior to the audit, Bullock had repaid most of the funds but still owed about $11,000 likely due to inaccurate record keeping, auditors said. Since then, Bullock’s outstanding balance has been paid, the league’s attorney has said.
Because auditors said Bullock’s use of the league’s credit card resulted in loans to himself rather than embezzlement, they did not recommend a criminal investigation into Bullock.
Biskupski’s spokesman Matthew Rojas said Bullock started work Thursday, hired to "supplement our legislative team" alongside Lynn Pace, senior intergovernmental affairs adviser; David Litvack, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff; and Jennifer Seelig, director of community empowerment.
Rojas said Salt Lake City is facing a critical time of growth with issues related to its economy, transportation and housing that require good relationships at the state level, and Bullock was hired because of his more than 30 years of experience building governmental relationships on Capitol Hill.
"If you work on Capitol Hill, it’s impossible not to know Ken," Rojas said. "This administration is dealing head-on with some of the biggest issues that have been facing the city for a very long time, and we need the best possible voices. Ken is part of an overall team that makes this what I would call a dream team up on Capitol Hill."
Rojas said Bullock’s controversial exit from the league "was definitely a concern for the whole team," but he was not hired for a "managerial role" and won’t be overseeing any budgets. Rather, Rojas said Bullock will be "doing what Ken does best — developing relationships, maintaining relationships and lobbying" for Salt Lake City.
"Without question, Ken made some very bad decisions, but … (auditors) didn’t find any criminal wrongdoing, he has apologized and made amends for those bad decisions, and we believe everyone deserves a second chance — especially somebody that brings the level of knowledge and experiences he has," Rojas said.
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Rojas said Bullock’s annual salary will be $105,500.
Later this year, a second audit into a mysterious fund auditors discovered while investigating the league found that the fund — managed by Bullock but unknown by the league’s own board members — should have been terminated years prior and didn’t follow some of its own bylaws, including reporting its finances regularly to the league board.
In an April interview, Bullock said over the 30 years he worked for the league he never intended to do anything "onerous," though he did acknowledge there were shortcomings when it came to oversight.
"The league has a very small staff and a lot of expectations on us," Bullock said at the time.
Bullock did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.