Boos wrote a letter to Grayeyes and Maryboy, reaffirming their long relationship and advising them not to trust the county attorney. In a November memorandum to the two freshly elected commissioners, Boos laid out a roadmap for adopting a resolution ordering Kendall Laws to take action regarding litigation over the last several years. If the county attorney didn’t comply, the Boos memorandum explains what avenues could be taken against Laws, including legal action or administrative sanctions.

Amy Joi O’Donoghue

Deseret News

Colorado attorney is governing Utah county, commissioner says

San Juan administrator resigns amid political ‘circus’

SALT LAKE CITY — Kelly Pehrson, the chief administrative officer for San Juan County, has resigned to take a job as the state’s deputy director of agriculture for a new opportunity —but also because he says the two freshmen county commissioners have either ignored him or froze him out at every turn.

“Since I have been administrator, I have tried very hard to have these commissioners work with staff, but they have refused. Somehow they have been coached to not discuss anything with staff,” Pehrson said Monday.

“The commissioners are the bosses of the county. They are supposed to be working with staff to run the county, but morale has been at an all-time low because they have been listening to outside voices.”

The outside voice he and others appear to be referring to is an attorney from Colorado.

The political dynamics shifted on the San Juan County Commission last general election when incumbent Rebecca Benally, a Navajo, lost to challenger Kenneth Maryboy, another Navajo, in an extremely tight race.

Willie Grayeyes, a Navajo, successfully ran against Kelly Laws in a partisan race for the seat vacated by Phil Lyman, who took a seat in the Utah Legislature to replace outgoing lawmaker Mike Noel.

The outcome of the election was closely watched in light of a December 2017 federal court ruling that gave the Navajo a significant majority of voters in two of the three districts.

Even before the two new commissioners took office, however, they sought advice from Durango, Colorado, attorney Steven C. Boos — former chief legal counsel for the Navajo Nation — on drafting resolutions, navigating the legislative process and to craft an ouster campaign against San Juan County Attorney Kendall Laws, according to documents Boos sent to the commission obtained by the Deseret News.

Kendall Laws is the son of Kelly Laws, who lost in the commission race to Grayeyes.

Boos wrote a letter to Grayeyes and Maryboy, reaffirming their long relationship and advising them not to trust the county attorney. In a November memorandum to the two freshly elected commissioners, Boos laid out a roadmap for adopting a resolution ordering Kendall Laws to take action regarding litigation over the last several years. If the county attorney didn’t comply, the Boos memorandum explains what avenues could be taken against Laws, including legal action or administrative sanctions.

Ultimately, a resolutionwas drafted to sue Kendall Laws asserting that as county attorney he did not comply with previous directives related to the Bears Ears issue. That resolution involving Laws has not yet passed the commission, but is under consideration and was discussed at the last meeting.

Kendall Laws was at the center of a controversy involving Grayeyes’ citizenship in San Juan County and his eligibility to be a candidate. The county attorney probe came after another commission candidate, Wendy Black, lodged an official complaint about Grayeyes’ residency. A 7th District Court judge ruled in January that Grayeyes was legitimately a resident of San Juan County.

“There is nothing wrong or prohibited about your use of an outside attorney to assist you,” Boos wrote them last month, and emphasized that communications between him and the commissioners are exempt from disclosure under Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act.

“You have no duty to share the substance of our conversations or any written communications we have had regarding these resolutions,” he wrote.

Deseret News efforts to reach Grayeyes, Maryboy and Boos for comment on this story were unsuccessful…

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