SOUTH JORDAN — Embattled West Jordan City Councilman Jeff Haaga pleaded guilty Friday to leaving the scene of an accident after he allegedly left a bar intoxicated in July.
South Jordan Justice Court Judge Clinton E. Balmforth ordered Haaga to pay a $500 fine and spend 180 days on probation for the class C misdemeanor. No jail time was ordered.
After the ruling, Haaga evaded reporters on his way out of the courtroom, ignoring requests for comment as he made his way to his car with his family.
The plea came amid demands that Haaga resign, but his attorney, Tyler Ayres, said there’s “no reason for him to resign” since he’s taken “full responsibility” for his actions by pleading guilty to the criminal charge.
But Josh Kanter, president of Alliance for a Better Utah — the group that called for Haaga’s resignation after police body camera footage showed the councilman appearing to insinuate to police that he had “protection” because he was a public official — said Haaga’s plea was not enough.
“He holds a special position of public trust, and yet he showed a tremendous lack of judgment in the way he handled himself with the police,” Kanter said. “Other public officials have done similar, if not as bad things and have taken responsibility by leaving office. Mr. Haaga should do the same.”
Ayres issued a printed statement on Haaga’s behalf as the councilman rushed to his car.
“Mr. Haaga is pleased to have the opportunity to take responsibility for his actions and to pay the same price as anyone else would for this violation,” the statement said. “He appreciates the support that he has received from the people of West Jordan — especially at the times when he falls short of expectations.
“Mr. Haaga recognizes that, as an elected official, his conduct is the concern of the community he represents, and he hopes that by accepting responsibility for his conduct he will set an example of openness and honesty for other public officials to follow.”
Read the KSL article here