Originally created 01/26/99

Attorney: Former president is being made a scapegoat



SALT LAKE CITY -- Tom Welch, who led Salt Lake's decade-long quest for the Olympics, is now being unfairly blamed for its excesses in an ungrateful and naive city, says his lawyer.

"He didn't do anything wrong," said attorney Tom Schaffer, who has begun talking to reporters while advising the former president of the bid and organizing committees to keep quiet.

"When you say something is wrong, to me that means there's a line over which you are not supposed to go," Schaffer said Monday. "There was no line. There were no rules."

Schaffer said he would be surprised by any criminal indictment of his client. "I do not believe that anything ... was done with criminal intent."

Justice Department investigators looking into the bid have not yet contacted or subpoenaed Welch, Schaffer said. Welch has met for several hours on two occasions with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's ethics panel, but has spoken to no other investigators.

An International Olympic Committee investigation found Salt Lake's bid committee spent nearly $800,000 on 14 IOC members, including travel expenses, scholarships for their children, medical care and cash payments in the years leading up to the IOC vote giving Salt Lake the 2002 Winter Games.

The IOC on Sunday ousted six members, including one who alone received $216,000 from Salt Lake. It issued a warning to another and continues to investigate three others. Three implicated IOC members resigned in the week before the meeting, and one died last summer.

Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and Salt Lake Organizing Committee chairman Robert Garff have been decrying the bid committee's lavish spending as below the ethical standards of the community.

Other bid committee members, including former bid committee chairman and SLOC President Frank Joklik, say they didn't know Welch and his sidekick during the bid, Dave Johnson, were going overboard. Welch was SLOC president from 1995 through mid-1997, when he resigned amid spouse-abuse allegations.

The SLOC board on Jan. 8 took away Welch's $500,000 pension and $10,000-per-month consulting contract, forced Johnson to resign as senior vice president, and put two other executives on administrative leave pending the outcome of several investigations. Joklik resigned, but is staying on until his replacement is chosen.

Yet, the chief IOC investigator said Sunday that the most he could say about Salt Lake bidders was they showed an extra "willingness to please."

"That's how you get votes; you make friends," Schaffer said.

`If you want to gain favor with the people who are going to vote to bring world recognition to your city, you can't take them to McDonald's for lunch," he said. "That's the way it works in the corporate world, the same as it works in the international community."

"Why are people acting so shocked that simply because it's amateur athletics it doesn't have a corporate spin to it? I find the naivetDe to be ridiculous," he said.

Schaffer also believes Welch and Johnson are being unfairly singled out.

"They took two decent men who did what Salt Lake asked them to do and now they're turning them into demons," he said.