NEWS ROOM

DCCS Members Targeted for Lawfully Applying for PPP Loans

February 23, 2021
(Nate Carlisle image taken from twitter.com 2/23/2021)

On Friday February 19, Nate Carlisle, a reporter for Utah’s Fox 13 News, sent a text to a number of individuals stating he had “found about $6 million in pandemic bailout funds that went to Order” [DCCS] businesses.  

The text prods potential sources to adopt Carlisle’s pre-defined narrative by saying “don’t let this get around” and encourages them to “talk about why this is bad” without any evidence of wrong-doing or consideration for the merits of the funds in question.  

Text dated 2/19/2021

It is the right and responsibility of journalists to shine the light of transparency on situations in our community, especially when it comes to uses of public funds.  However, the leaked text is an egregious example of biased journalism and personal animus.

Carlisle teaches an Investigative Journalism course at the state funded University of Utah listed under COMM 5850, making his lack of journalistic integrity even more puzzling.

During the pandemic, many small businesses have struggled to stay afloat.  Since March of 2020, business owners have faced lock downs, supply shortages and workforce shortages among a number of other challenges.

Business owners who are members of the Davis County Cooperative Society have faced these same challenges as they’ve tried to strike a balance between new government regulations and making ends meet.

The Payroll Protection Program has allowed businesses to apply for qualifying loans, and to use funds for specific expenses, most of them directly tied to payroll, healthcare benefits and keeping the workforce employed.  PPP regulations require businesses to limit use of funds to this very narrow scope.  Recipients also face increased scrutiny when applying for these loans.  Coincidently in April 2020, the Salt Lake Tribune received $854,800 in PPP loans while Carlisle was still employed there.

We looked into Carlisle’s list of businesses he intends to target.  It contained some businesses that are associated with DCCS members and some that are not.  None of the businesses on the list are being investigated for wrong-doing concerning the loans, and to our knowledge, none of the funds have been dispersed outside of the scope of the program’s intended use.

Business owners in the DCCS employ a significant portion of the workforce in various communities along the Wasatch Front and elsewhere.  These government programs helped save the jobs of thousands of employees, the majority of which are not members or affiliates of the Co-op.  One business owner being targeted by Carlisle stated,

“It is the right of citizens who qualify to be able to use government initiatives without harassment, especially in the midst of the pandemic we face today.  It shouldn’t matter whether they are in the [DCCS].”

Nate Carlisle seems to think otherwise.  He has a history of targeting law abiding citizens without evidence of wrong-doing in his attempts to lead his sources and paint false narratives.  He has targeted plural families with false claims against college students, lawfully obtained marriage licenses, as well as law abiding small businesses for harassment.  

Most recently, he and Fox 13's Adam Herbets falsely claimed 11 homes were owned by Ensign Learning Center in an effort to evade property taxes.   Ensign Learning Center is a private school attended by many DCCS families.  Despite these claims, when we looked into publicly available property deeds at the County Recorder's office, they show that all but 2 of these homes have no present interest ownership by the school.  The owners have retained a life estate over their property.  This means that while they are still living, they retain full present interest in the property as well as pay property taxes every year.  Upon the owner's death, proceeds from the home may be donated to Ensign, a school that has never drawn public education funding and is estimated to save the State of Utah over $8 Million a year.  This reality stands in stark contrast to Herbet's and Carlisle's false claims.  

These false narratives perpetuate stereotypes and unfairly inflame the audience toward plural families.  Another targeted business owner states,

“If [Nate Carlisle] thinks its bad for my employees to have money to feed their families during the pandemic, he’s entitled to his opinion.  But, it’s nice to know what he’s about if he ever comes for comment.”

This continued targeting is simply reprehensible and borders on hate speech, inciting fear and violence against plural families in the Utah community.

Carlisle only recently moved to Fox 13 in October of 2020, leaving the Salt Lake Tribune after 15 years.  At the time, Tribune interim editor David Noyce made comments suggesting the split with Carlisle was amicable.  However, it happened to coincide just weeks after a $500,000 lawsuit was filed by owners of Rocky Mountain Eye Center LLC against Nate Carlisle, his editor Jennifer Napier-Pearce and the Tribune itself for an article Carlisle authored titled “Utah eye clinic is not owned by members of a polygamous sect, but the building is, and it may be hurting business” dated August 2nd, 2019.

The opening caption of the article read “Rocky Mountain Eye Care Associates' David Petersen still hopes he and his associates can buy the building, owned by members of the Kingston Group who pleaded guilty to fraud, and leave their troubled landlords behind.”  However, no owners or corporate officers of the company who owns the building, had plead guilty to anything, let alone fraud.  To date, there are no current or pending charges or cases against any of the owners of the building.  The Salt Lake Tribune has changed the wording in the caption.

Both Carlisle and Napier-Pearce have since ended their employment with the Tribune.  It is not clear whether the lawsuit played any role in their departure.

Carlisle’s latest actions could spell new legal trouble for him should targeted business owners band together in a class action suit against him or Fox 13 for libel and slander.

(Story has been modified from an earlier version with clarified information)  

The paragraph that previously read: "Most recently, he and Fox 13's Adam Herbets falsely claimed 11 homes were owned by Ensign Learning Center, a private school attended by many DCCS families.  A quick look at the publicly available property title of all but 2 of these homes shows they are not owned by the school at all.  They have been willed to a living trust that, upon the owner's death, donates proceeds from the home to Ensign, a school that has never drawn public education funding and is estimated to save the State of Utah over $8 Million a year.  Living owners of the homes in question retain full present ownership and pay taxes every year despite Herbet's and Carlisle's false claims."  

The paragraph now reads: "Most recently, he and Fox 13's Adam Herbets falsely claimed 11 homes were owned by Ensign Learning Center in an effort to evade property taxes.   Ensign Learning Center is a private school attended by many DCCS families.  Despite these claims, when we looked into publicly available property deeds at the County Recorder's office, they show that all but 2 of these homes have no present interest ownership by the school.  The owners have retained a life estate over their property.  This means that while they are still living, they retain full present interest in the property as well as pay property taxes every year.  Upon the owner's death, proceeds from the home may be donated to Ensign, a school that has never drawn public education funding and is estimated to save the State of Utah over $8 Million a year.  This reality stands in stark contrast to Herbet's and Carlisle's false claims."

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