SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – The Salt Lake County employee who sent an email filled with racist remarks to a Sandy business owner is making a public apology.
ABC 4 News was the first to tell you about the email sent by the employee using his government email account to Linnaea Mendoza owner of Salsitas Mendoza. After seeing our report the County Assessor called ABC 4’s Kimberly Nelson to set the record straight; the Assessor’s office does not, and will not, tolerate bigotry or abuse of power.
Salsitas Mendoza has been open just a year. Linnaea and her husband sell jars of salsa out of the store, but because they don’t have a kitchen there yet they have to rent one. They’re looking to put a commercial kitchen in their store but still need a $12,000 dollar commercial hood.
In order to raise the funds Linnaea started a Kickstarter page where people could donate money. To promote the fundraising efforts, her sister posted an ad on another website under charity advertisements. The feedback was positive until she got this email from a Salt Lake County government employee.
The email in question was sent by Jedd Bogenschutz and reads, "I respond to people in need in this section that really need it. After reading your ad I had to respond and say are you ... f...ing serious?? your ad had to be the most disgusting ad I have ever read, really taking donations so you can finish a kitchen so you south of the borders can get ahead, you can bet I would never buy any of your garbage, I do have some connections, board of health, business license, ect. I will make sure your (sic) on the up and up."
The words "you south of the borders" still sting, but Linnaea Mendoza says the racial slurs weren't the worst part about the cutting email. She was worried about how a government employee could use his power in such an abusive way.
Mendoza asked, “How far is there a hatred? How far would it go will you try to revoke my licenses that I worked so hard for? Will you try to damage my business that’s new? You know, we’re all in on this. This is everything to my family.”
Whether or not they were empty threats, when he heard one of his employees had done such a thing Salt Lake County Assessor Lee Gardner was quick to respond.
"Bigotry in any way shape or form has no place in our community,” said Gardner. “Intimidation by anyone in government will not be tolerated, not in my office and it should not be tolerated in any office.”
Gardner continued, “My thought process is when an offense is public then the apology or explanation needs to be done in public. That’s why I’ve not only asked, I’ve requested Jedd to be here to give his explanation.”
Jedd Bogenschutz said, "To be honest not in a million years would I have thought I would have done something so insensitive."
Bogenschutz says he wrote the email in an impulse. He was upset because he didn't think the Mendoza's finishing their kitchen should have been a charitable cause.
“I always felt myself as being an open-minded person willing to accept people’s differences as my own as well and I’m just absolutely embarrassed,” said Bogenschutz.
Kimberly Nelson asked Gardner, "There are many people who want Judd to lose his job over this. If you or I were to do something like this with the very public email address that we would lose our job.”
Gardner responded, “This is an opportunity for education not only to the community but for Jedd and I’m sure there’s none of us who are immune to making some statements. As I’m watching the national debate and campaign, we would not have anybody in government right now. So maybe a little forgiveness and a little understanding that yes, we do make mistakes.” He continues, "I assure you the punishment I’m giving is in no way shape or form is a slap on the wrist."
Bogenschutz says he plans on apologizing to the Mendozas personally and for the Mendozas that’s enough.
Mendoza said, "I don't want to cause any long term damage to his family just as I didn't want his comments to cause any long term damage to my family via my business."
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