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GOP Utah County sheriff candidate files complaint against Republican opponent

PROVO — A Republican Utah County sheriff candidate has filed a complaint alleging his GOP opponent used public resources to put up a campaign sign.

Retired U.S. Marshal Jim Phelps says a video shows a uniformed Pleasant Grove police officer helping another man place a sign at a shop in American Fork for his boss and sheriff candidate, Pleasant Grove Police Chief Mike Smith. The officer's patrol car is parked next to a Main Street business.

"It's inappropriate when a sitting police chief is allowing his officers to go out on duty in uniform in a government vehicle, which is all taxpayer money," Phelps said.

Phelps filed a complaint last week with the Utah County Clerk's Office, which oversees elections in the county. He wrote in the complaint that he was provided the video, which lasts 14 seconds, on May 21.

"This individual witnessed the uniformed police officer assisting to hold the sign while another male taped the sign to a business," according to the complaint.

Smith wasn't aware of Phelps' complaint until a reporter called him Thursday.

"I don't know what he's talking about," Smith said. "That would be inappropriate. That's why I've never done it."

Smith said he didn't direct any officers to put up campaign signs. He said he has been clear with supporters, some of whom are in law enforcement throughout the county, to campaign only on their own time.

Phelps, he said, is "grasping for straws."

Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson said the complaint is under investigation. He said he isn't sure when a decision would be made. If the allegations are found true, the county attorney's office would determine if any laws were broken and respond appropriately, he said.

Phelps and Smith are running to replace retiring Sheriff Jim Tracy. There are no other candidates in the race, so the June 26 primary will decide the next sheriff.

Phelps retired last December after 25 years with the U.S. Marshals Service. Smith has worked for Pleasant Grove police for 24 years, the last six as chief.