Group calls for resignation of West Jordan councilman

Source: Deseret News

The group Alliance for a Better Utah on Friday called on West Jordan City Councilman Jeff Haaga to resign and started an online petition with the same goal.

On July 19, witnesses at the Black Sheep Bar & Grill, 1520 W. 9000 South, said Haaga was “obviously intoxicated” when he got into his car, backed into a parked vehicle and drove home, according to police reports.

When South Jordan police, who were asked to handle the investigation to avoid any conflict of interest, arrived at Haaga’s house an hour later, they reported he was still intoxicated on his front porch. Video recorded by the officers’ body cameras showed Haaga talking slowly and frequently talking in circles or not making sense in the answers he gave the officers, something the officers noted in their reports.

Haaga repeatedly claims in the video that he was assaulted by the bar patrons who took his keys and tried to prevent him from driving, and that he wants charges filed against them. At one point he even suggests that he is “protected” because he is a councilman, according to the video.

He was eventually cited and later charged in West Jordan Justice Court with failing to remain at the scene of an accident, a class C misdemeanor. He was not arrested for DUI, although the officer is heard on the video telling Haaga he probably should be.

Investigators requested from the bar the receipts for alcohol “purchased and consumed” by Haaga. He ordered a total of seven 24-ounce beers and a shot of bourbon, a police report states.

Haaga has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Alliance for a Better Utah — which calls itself a group that “works to improve the lives of all Utahns by ensuring balance, transparency and accountability in Utah politics, policy, and government” — said it joins former West Jordan Mayor Melissa Johnson in calling for Haaga’s resignation. Johnson addressed the City Council at its Tuesday meeting, asking them to send a strong message and censure Haaga for his actions.

“Public office is not a shield to be used to deflect responsibly for your actions. The fact you are a Council member does not give you a free pass to ignore the law. It does the exact opposite,” she said.

Johnson then called for Haaga’s immediate resignation.

“If he cannot keep the promise he made the day he took office, a solemn oath that he would obey the law, then he should step aside. The residents of our city deserve better,” she said.

Rachel Sanders, the alliance’s executive director, agreed.

“Not only was Haaga’s behavior reckless and dangerous, it was a breach of the trust and responsibilities that come along with the office he holds. As a City Council member, he took an oath of office to obey the laws of our state. He knowingly violated those laws,” she said in a prepared statement.

“And after doing so, he claimed his position exempted him from punishment of his crimes as if he was entitled to some kind of diplomatic immunity. We disagree — no one is above the law. Haaga must now be held accountable for his actions. Haaga narrowly escaped a DUI charge and potential conviction. Now he should do the right thing and heed the call to resign.”

West Jordan City Councilwoman Sophie Rice issued a statement Friday calling for Haaga’s resignation.

“Censure is the strongest consequence the City Council can, as a body, hand down to Jeff Haaga. As such, he should be censured by the council,” Rice said. “But as a citizen, I can do and say things that I cannot say in my official capacity. As a citizen of West Jordan city, I demand Jeff Haaga’s resignation.”

Read the Deseret News article here.

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