SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Salt Lake Police are investigating a donation by a Utah lawmaker that may have helped pay for paint used to vandalize a government building.
Donation in question
The investigation is based on information that comes from a search warrant affidavit filed in 3rd District Court.
That document says that Sen. Derek Kitchen (D-Salt Lake) made a $10 donation on June 28 through Venmo where the transaction note said it was for ‘paint.’ This is one day after the ‘Justice for Bernardo’ group used a large amount of paint to deface the street in front of the district attorney’s office.
On July 9, the office building itself was plastered with red paint and suffered tens of thousands of dollars in damages.
Sen. Kitchen reacts
In a statement Wednesday, Kitchen said the small contribution was to “support the cause of justice” in what he expected would be a peaceful rally.
“It is a matter of record that I support criminal justice reform,” Kitchen explains. “I love Salt Lake City and Utah, and I believe in progressive activism. In this instance I responded to a solicitation on social media for financial support for what I understood would be a peaceful rally for justice. I gave a small contribution to support the cause of justice, but I wasn’t involved in the planning or organization of the event.”
— Senator Derek Kitchen (@derekkitchen) August 20, 2020
Kitchen goes on to say, “I did not attend the protest and have only seen press reports of what happened. I will always advocate for the constitutional right to peaceful protest but I don’t condone violence or vandalism.”
On Wednesday, Salt Lake police said they are investigating donations by several people to Madalena McNeil. Detectives believe those donations were used to buy red paint for protests on both June 27 and July 9.
Police Union calls for ethics investigation
The Fraternal Order of Police has also called for an ethics investigation into Kitchen’s actions.
The state’s largest police union told Dave and Dujanovic they are asking that Kitchen be removed from his committee assignments.
“This is really a question of equity and accountability at the highest levels of government. Sen. Kitchen sits on the Criminal Justice Appropriations committee and several other criminal justice committees where he’s in charge of making these laws and making these budget appropriations for things like the District Attorney’s building. He’s essential to getting funding for that building. To find out he’s the paymaster behind some of this destruction is really really disturbing,” Ian Adams said.
Hear the full conversation that Dave and Dujanovic had with Ian Adams from the FOP, legal expert Paul Cassell, and your comments below.