Kerry Gibson was the former Weber State County Commissioner.
Under his stewardship, ranchers that Utah Stories have spoken to have been losing their land and their water due to the overdevelopment of the area. But somehow Kerry Gibson became a darling of state GOP leaders. According to one rancher we spoke with, Gibson used his post to improve conditions for his own family’s dairy farm. Weber County paid a huge sum to install a cement drainage ditch in Weber County paid for by taxpayers. The ditch would collect excess runoff so that his family farm would not suffer flood damage from the Weber River. This government largess didn’t extend to other farmers or ranchers in the area. This might have set into motion a pattern for Gibson’s dealings as he was promoted. The big question is how and why he was promoted, when there was so obviously a conflict of interest with his Government PR firm.
When Gibson took over to become the Chief of the Utah Department of Agriculture, he brought with him Natalie Callahan and Sasha Clark from his PR company, the Dicio Group. Potential conflict of interest statements were never made, nor was there any oversight to examine if Callahan and Clark were billing hours for both the PR firm and the Department of Agriculture. The hours that Callahan billed were highly excessive: she logged 427 hours of overtime during her nine-month stay. In one two-week period she logged 179 total working hours. To break this down: if she were working 80-hour weeks: The Department of Agriculture is only open five-days per week, she would need to be working 19 hour days, if she was working just week days. Why was she working so late? What was she doing? Utah Stories is attempting to get a comment from Callahan.
Later on, the State performed an audit on Gibson’s short time at the Utah Department of Agriculture. This audit revealed the extent of the corruption of Gibson and his team, mostly Ms. Callahan to be exact.
For example, Gibson and Callahan attended a conference in Hawaii. Callahan took the liberty to upgrade the seats on the plane at the expense of Utah taxpayers. Then she upgraded their rooms as well (also on the dime Utah taxpayers). Callahan was also billing hundreds of hours of additional overtime, collecting huge sums for her position as director of operations and agriculture programs. Utah Stories has also learned that in her short period at the Utah Department of Agriculture Callahan was taking the liberties of firing people who had been with the department for years and also silencing anybody who might have any complaints about the ways in which things were being operated.
Gibson was brought on about the same time that the Utah Department of Agriculture would be taking over all of the operations of the State’s medical cannabis, and hemp growing operations. There was at least one candidate, who was acquainted with both Gibson and Callahan and who received their growing license after Gibson paid a special visit to their potential growing site. We have learned that the operation in question is True North.
Neither Gibson nor Callahan were supposed to have any influence over the committee and process which was assigned to review who received licenses.
The only revelation the audit on Gibson offers is that “Applicant A” might have received their growing license without merit. Only eight licenses were handed out and it appears that only two of the growing operations are able to produce anywhere near enough medical-grade cannabis to meet the current demand.
We are certain that this story, the corruption goes much deeper. We would like to commit more time and resources to this investigation. If you would like to help please support our local advertisers and tell them you found them in Utah Stories. This is your Utah. Help us expose the corruption and abuse of power.