JOHN CURTIS EXPOSED: A Trail of Sexual Harassment, Incompetence, and Broken Contracts
By Ed Wallace and The Utah Yaks October 12, 2017
Edited 10/16/2017 / 1:33 am / Added link to follow-up story: A Factual Review of JOHN CURTIS: EXPOSED, Part 1
Edited 10/31/2017 / 2.55 pm / Added link to follow-up story: Part 2: A factual summary of JOHN CURTIS: EXPOSED – Incompetence, Lies & Spin
Edited 3/20/2018 / 5:55 am / Added link to follow-up story: 120 Questions for John Curtis that Utah Deserves to Have Answered
Publisher’s Note: Six weeks ago, I received a call from a private citizen who was concerned that Provo Mayor John Curtis was deceiving the public by lying about his accomplishments and his character. Acting on that tip, I made a few calls and discovered that the evidence supporting the accusation was overwhelming and went far beyond simple misrepresentation and braggadocious claims of grandeur. I began to uncover indications that Mr. Curtis has a history of habitual incompetence, sexual harassment, greed and broken contract. I was shocked that no one else had ever discovered this. Here is a man who is trusted by thousands and is a candidate to represent Utah’s 3rd Congressional District, and he’s never been properly vetted?
I enlisted the assistance of outside resources and we launched an extensive investigation that included hundreds of hours of research, recorded interviews, and a search of 23-years-worth of Utah and U.S. District Court records. The following is the culmination of that effort. I believe that this report exceeds “a preponderance of the evidence” that John Curtis is not the competent, squeaky clean, guy-smiley candidate that he presents himself to be.
Even more disconcerting than the subject of this article is the apparent collusion and cover-up by major Utah news outlets. A letter containing the same information that opened up this investigation was given to a member of the Deseret News editorial board. To date, nothing has happened. A major subject in this investigation was also interviewed by KSL reporter Ladd Egan and a cameraman for 1½ hours. During that interview, much of the raw information stated in this article was given to them. KSL never aired the story. Neither Deseret News or Egan answered my request for a comment. Yet, there is a massive media effort to promote and save the “Count My Vote” initiative. John Curtis would never have received the Republican nomination had he gone through the traditional caucus system. “Count My Vote” assured that he won that nomination. Curtis has received the wholehearted support of Utah Governor Gary Herbert and former U.S. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
This is a story that transcends a single episode like the Curtis matter. It’s a story about the corruption of Utah’s political process (and its leaders) that should by all means be the epitome of incorruptibility. – Ed Wallace
“I’m surprised that there was no criminal investigation [Curtis and Bateman]…. Based on the plethora, on that large volume of rancid fish in the company [Action Target Inc.].” – Utah District Court Judge Samuel D. McVey
By Ed Wallace
Common courtesy, or giving others the benefit of the doubt, are terms that often describe individuals who take what someone else says about themselves at face value. If Utahns are anything, we are courteous. We really don’t know the other person very well and so we assume that the other person is telling the truth. Therefore, we extend to another person the benefit of the doubt by trusting and believing what they are representing to us. If anything, Utahns are trusting.
In the case of John Curtis, who won the republican primary election for U.S. Congress by circumventing Utah’s traditional caucus process, many have supported and voted for Curtis based upon that thin layer of benefit of the doubt by trusting and believing his campaign slogans and statements because he appears to be a nice guy. Utahns love believing a nice guy.
Curtis sent his primary promotional flyer to most, if not all in the third congressional district, by U.S. Mail, with three carefully selected bullet points. In it, he claims that he:
– “Built a multi-million dollar company that employs hundreds right here in Utah.”
– “Cut spending and shrank government as mayor of Provo, leading to a 94% approval rating.”
– “Years of experience conducting firearms and shooting range training for the U.S. Military, police departments and the NRA”
However, as we look into Curtis deeper, with even the most rudimentary research regarding his claims, we find that a different story emerges than the one he puts forward to obtain votes.
“Most courts take the view that when a person runs for public office, he puts his character in issue so far as it relates to his fitness and qualifications for office. Accordingly, the politician’s prior conduct and actions are fair game for comment. Campaign ads are famous for spinning the truth and such ‘spinning’ of the facts typically walks a fine line to being false.” – Saper Law
A special report from FactCheck.org states: “Candidates have a legal right to lie to voters just about as much as they want. There is no federal truth-in-advertising law that applies to political ads, and the very few states that have tried such legislation have had little or no success.”
This report by Utah Standard News puts John Curtis through the fact checker of reality.
One conservative Republican party insider stated, ”I would rather have an honest, moderate Democrat representing me than one who lies about who he is and claims to be a Republican.”
The following report and supporting documentation regards the serious misbehavior in the workplace and the toxic company culture created by John Curtis and Kyle Bateman. Bateman is a cousin to Curtis and is the former President, Co-Founder, Director and major stockholder in Action Target Inc. (ATI), where they served together as the top executives and/or influential owners of ATI. Curtis’ recent video ad shows him standing in front of the ATI building and sign, so even in 2017, he still claims a connection and roots in ATI. As Chief Operating Officer (COO) and VP over Sales and Marketing at ATI, Curtis was intimately involved in every detail and aspect of company operations, including being responsible for the implementation of procedures and policies put forth by the CEO and the Board of Directors. This report is divided into four sections, each with its relevant links and documentation.
The following is a compilation of statements and information obtained from
former Action Target executives, employees, and court documents.
The blue, bold text are links to click on to view the related document or site
A Trail of Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Breach of Contract
John Curtis purchased his executive position at ATI from Scott Roberts in 1998 and assumed his position as Chief Operating Officer (COO) and VP of Sales and Marketing in 1999. Curtis agreed to pay a total cash amount of $850,000 in exchange for ATI stock and a 1/3 ownership interest in Action Commercial Park. A number of written and verbal agreements were made between Roberts, Curtis, Kyle Bateman, and Addison Sovine (Bateman’s partner) regarding this transaction. However, according to Roberts, Bateman and Curtis breached or modified many of these written and verbal agreements. As a result, Roberts ended up collecting only $619,108.34 over a 20-month period (a somewhat-forced discount of $230,891.66) as Roberts tried to accommodate Curtis.
After the deal was inked, Roberts was told of a covert plan by Bateman and Curtis to wrongfully divert $106,750 of Roberts’ 1998 profit sharing savings plan funds to Curtis’ wages. That was a very serious breach by Bateman and Curtis of two written agreements, as well as being against State and Federal law. Roberts learned that Bateman, with Curtis’ knowledge, was hiding about five large deposits (totaling about $1.5 million) from sales that Roberts had made in 1998. This would deny Roberts, as an owner, the ability to realize any of the profits from those funds because they would not be counted in the company profit sharing funds and owner profits calculation for 1998 . That issue was never fully remedied as Curtis and the other two major ATI owners, Bateman and Sovine, wrongfully accepted these funds.
In the first ten days after Roberts’ departure, his executive assistant, Gayle Adams, was often degraded by both Curtis and Bateman, subjected to sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and threatened with having her pay reduced. Adams was then constructively fired and offered $10,000 if she would sign a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement and go away quietly. She refused.
Instead, Adams filed a claim of Sexual Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation with the UALD (Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division) and started legal action against ATI. UALD validated her claims and ruled in favor of Adams. She decided to settle with ATI and, as part of her settlement, was required to enter into a confidential settlement agreement as to what went on with her and Curtis. This “hush money” practice by Curtis and Bateman as executives at ATI became a standard procedure when dealing with covering up their abusive and illegal practices.
About a year later, Curtis also wrongfully fired Rita Duprat, who was also forced to enter a confidential settlement agreement with Curtis and ATI. Duprat was a very successful Master Chief in the USAF over firearms training who was hired by Roberts upon her retirement from the Air Force to assist ATI in the military sales department. Duprat was the first woman hired to a management position in the sales department and she had been very successful in the position. Duprat has stated that she was wrongfully terminated by Curtis under a cloud of intimidation and false information and that her experience with Curtis is one of the worst unpleasant experiences of her life.
A letter from Evan Schmutz, attorney for Gayle Adams and Linzee Francom, is particularly revealing about the broad-based hostile, abusive, humiliating and unlawful/discriminatory environment that was created throughout all ranks at ATI by Curtis and Bateman. This environment included unwanted sexual innuendos, the intentional infliction of emotional distress, slander, and pervasive discrimination that was condoned, if not encouraged, as a practice throughout the corporate organization.
When Edward S. Seguine, Jr. (financial manager at ATI from 1993 through 1997) heard about how Curtis and Bateman had wrongfully terminated Gayle Adams, he produced his October 22, 1999 letter to help her validate her case concerning her claims about the toxic culture found at ATI. In the letter, Sequine stated how he abruptly quit in July, 1997, because of what he had seen and experienced. Sequine stated: “Female applicants for shop and installer jobs were not considered. One wheelchair-bound applicant was turned away because he could not go upstairs to interview. ATI refused to pay Davis-Bacon wage rates when required to by government contract. The [ATI] practice was to avoid the issue by paying retroactively only in those cases where a complaint or request for documentation was made by the general contractor. After employees learned about this practice and requested appropriate compensation, amounts over and above their base pay (the Davis-Bacon wage premium) were deducted from their normal profit share allotment annually.” This was in direct violation of federal statute.
Sequine also reported: “Complaints by female workers regarding the inappropriateness of workplace conversations and decor were not seriously investigated or rectified despite the existence of an employee handbook and policy regarding actual discrimination in the workplace. Line management was instructed not to “fire” individuals, but rather to make their work as unpleasant or unrewarding (limited hours or reduced pay) so that the employee would quit and the company could avoid paying unemployment taxes.” All of these practices by ATI concerning these statements are illegal and some violate federal statutes.
Much of what happened at ATI is not available to the public, but the testimony by Kyrsten Oler, given during Roberts’ lawsuit against ATI, is. In a deposition taken on April 16, 2014, Oler, Director of Human Resources at ATI from 2009 to 2014, testified that the statements provided by Seguine are true. Oler then states that she knows this because “Kyle Bateman is the individual who told me that.” Her testimony is particularly revealing as to how Curtis and Bateman treated people, especially women, within the management workings of ATI. This sworn testimony by Oler cited 18-19 individuals who had relevant claims of Sexual Discrimination, Retaliation, Harassment, and Religious Discrimination, Racial Discrimination, Gender or Sexual Discrimination, Age Discrimination, and unlawful and discriminatory employment practices, that were filed with NLRB, UALD and/or EEOC. Most of these former ATI employees settled out of court and entered into confidential settlement agreements with ATI. Oler’s testimony speaks for itself regarding the behavior and hostile culture created and sustained at ATI by Curtis and Bateman.
In addition to her testimony about how others were treated, Oler also revealed that she personally suffered from sexual discrimination and harassment at ATI. Her claims were also settled out of court with ATI, again with a confidential settlement agreement.
Tara Johnson (a former ATI NW Sales Manager) began working at ATI in 2007. She recently sued and settled with ATI in January, 2015, for wrongful termination based on Sexual Discrimination, Retaliation, Harassment, and Religious Discrimination. In short, Johnson alleged that her opportunities within the company were limited by management’s view of women’s roles, which were shaped by their own religion. Johnson reported that she was discriminated against even after her termination, when her male successor was offered the nearly $500,000 in commissions that she had earned.
Roberts knows of at least 15 other ATI employees who went through similar experiences. Most of them were wrongfully terminated or forced out by Curtis and Bateman under a cloud of intimidation and false information. Curtis and Bateman also withheld the payment of funds due to those that ATI wanted to discourage so that they would quit or be constructively terminated. Many stated that Curtis used “bait and switch” tactics regarding their commission structure so ATI did not have to pay them as agreed.
Derik White was an Independent Builder & Factory Installer for ATI since the mid 1990’s. He and his team probably installed almost half of the ATI indoor and outdoor firing ranges sold in those years. From 1999 through 2012, White said that Curtis and his executive team “stiffed” him on many jobs and invoices when they became due at the end of the job. When he realized that he was over $400,000 in the red with ATI, he decided to start Fusion Targets, Inc., which is now ATI’s main competitor. White said that he knows of many, many other former ATI employees that were all likewise “stiffed,” lied to, and taken advantage of by Curtis. ATI sued Fusion for copyright infringement and lost. It turned out that ATI was actually copying White’s inventions in several ways and “stiffing” him again by trying to enforce a falsely-constructed Patent which they falsely claimed had been invented by only Bateman..
Scott Roberts returned to ATI in 2004 and in 2009 working Federal Sales for ATI, but claimed that he was wrongfully terminated in 2011. ATI had given Roberts’ federal commissions to struggling salespersons in other territories to help them stay positive with ATI. This led to continued friction between ATI executives and Roberts. According to Roberts, in May of 2011, without discussion, ATI fired Roberts, locked his office, and sent him on his way. When Roberts was terminated, he was owed approximately $300,000 in unpaid federal sales commissions. ATI offered to pay Roberts $15,000 for his troubles if he would sign a confidential settlement agreement. Roberts refused. Instead, he found an attorney who took his case on contingency. In 2015, after a four-year battle with ATI, and when ATI’s attempt at summary judgment failed to extinguish Roberts’ nine claims against ATI and was denied by the federal judge, ATI settled out of court to Roberts’ satisfaction.
There are also 13 case numbers for tax liens against ATI and one settled wrongful termination lawsuit filed in Provo Justice Court
In a recorded interview between USN publisher Ed Wallace and John Curtis on Oct 10, 2017, Curtis denied any knowledge of any sexual harassment claims, filings or lawsuits, and that he [Curtis] was not involved in any of that. He also denied any participation in any of the sexual harassment and wage claims, and lawsuits after he became Mayor.
When asked directly about the Oler deposition, Curtis stated “I think most of that would be after I had left.” Oler was employed at ATI from 2009 to 2014 and her testimony was taken on April 16, 2014. However, on page 18 and 19 of her testimony, John Curtis, as Mayor of Provo, is cited as the one that Denny Taylor (hired at ATI in 1999) turned to for help with the sexual harassment that they were enduring and dealing with at ATI because John was an “owner.” John is referred to as an owner several times (see also page 97 where Oler says “owner[s] and executives” caused this culture of sexual harassment and discrimination.)
And, The legal letter from Evan Schmutz on behalf of Gayle Adams and Linzee Francom was dated March 2, 1999 under Curtis’ time with ATI. This letter provides a detailed account of “gender discrimination, slander, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful discharge.” Schmutz also states “ … we have discovered a much more pervasive and generally applied discrimination to all women employed at Action Target, Inc. then we anticipated.” Adams directly mentions Curtis in her filing with UALD. In the interview, Curtis stated “Sure, I remember Gayle. Gayle was there when I first came.” When asked if he had knowledge of any sexual harassment [gender discrimination] claims, Curtis replied “No. And it sounds to me like you’ve got a whole bunch of bad information.”
Also, when asked about the letter dated October 22, 1999 from Edward Sequine (financial manager at ATI from 1993 through 1997) in support of Gayle Adam’s claim about the toxic culture found at ATI, Curtis replied “That was before I joined the company.” The “Stock Sale and Real Estate Documentation” contract between Curtis and Roberts has an effective date of October 1, 1997 and was signed on September 16, 1997. So, Curtis became an owner of ATI on 10/1/1997 and assumed his executive position in January of 1999.
Roberts states: “These are the first cases of sexual harassment and abuse in ATI history that I know of and so John Curtis (and Kyle Bateman) were the inventors who created the sexual harassment and discrimination “ATI Culture” against women that lasted so long.”
A Trail of Incompetence
What did John Curtis really contribute to ATI? How many employees have been happy there? How many women was he involved with in their demise as he and his cousin Kyle Bateman demeaned, harassed, abused or allowed them to be attacked over the years? How many lawsuits and claims have been filed, and won, against them? How many times did Curtis and ATI violate state & federal statutes? John’s fake version of history at ATI appears to be nothing more than a deceptive facade. Let’s look at some facts:
1998 was a pivotal year for ATI. By the end of the year, Curtis had purchased an executive position at ATI and received training to become Chief Operating Officer (COO) and VP over Sales. In late 1998, not only did a new era at ATI begin, it also ushered in an atmosphere of systemic incompetence, deceit and abuse.
Contrary to Curtis’s claim in his Congressional campaign mailer that he “Built a multi-million dollar company that employed hundreds right here in Utah”, he actually did just the opposite… he almost destroyed Action Target, Inc. (ATI)
Prior to Curtis coming on board at ATI in 1999, 1998 was the best year ever in company history. Gross sales were around $20 million and more importantly, net profits were also high. However, within one year after Curtis purchased his executive position from Roberts, gross sales had dropped by about 50% and were on track to soon be under under $10 million. Within two years, ATI started to have layoffs and was near ruin and on the verge of bankruptcy. The CFO for ATI at the time, Teague Hansen, stated to Roberts on several occasions between late 2000 to early 2001, that he thought ATI would be closing their doors.
This financial distress was largely due to one important and very large job that was handed off to Curtis during 1998 that Roberts had developed and worked. The job was for two large indoor/outdoor type FLETC ranges planned for Quantico FBI. Roberts thought the project could be worth $4.5 to $5.5 million in business to ATI, if handled correctly, and produce a great profit margin. Curtis closed the deal at about $4.1 million and managed the project so poorly that ATI became financially strapped to the point that Hansen and Bateman were planning on selling off the ATI manufacturing equipment and liquidating the business by mid 2001 if things did not change.
The design and product installation of the two indoor/outdoor ranges were such a failure on the part of Curtis and ATI that they became known as the “Thunder Domes.” This term referred to the fact that they were too loud, too cold, and the ATI bullet trap used a new undeveloped projectile recycling system that continued to fail over and over again. The ranges were not used much by the FBI as they were seen as a failed project. This led to the FBI dropping ATI as their key vendor at the firearms training unit. Two competitors of ATI, Mancom Company and Caswell, took over as the prime vendors with the FBI. This poor relationship with the FBI continued for many years and was a tremendous blow to the company.
After overseeing the decline and near bankruptcy of ATI, Curtis started looking for another path in life. He tried public service politics where direct results from one’s actions are not always so quickly apparent as they are in the business and corporate world. In 2000, Curtis ran as a Democrat for Utah State Senate, District 16 seat against Curt Bramble and got trounced. According to the Deseret News, it was that year’s most expensive State Senate race and Curtis outspent Bramble almost three to one. Curtis also became deeply involved in the Democratic party as the Utah County Democratic Chairperson.
In 2000, Curtis and Bateman demonstrated that they wanted and needed Roberts back. Bateman asked Roberts if he would return and help them with sales and marketing. Roberts declined their offer. Around 2001, Curtis began looking for a way out and was offering to sell his ATI stock and physical facility interest (Action Commercial Park) and actually approached Roberts about buying in again. Roberts expressed some interest but declined in a letter to Curtis.
Nevertheless, ATI was revived a bit and slowly got back somewhat on track when two new events took place. First, the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 on the NYC Trade Center created an intense interest for more firing ranges around the country. Second, Curtis finally openly admitted that he was a very poor fit for his position over sales at ATI. Curtis decided to hire a number of outside high power commission sales types to run and handle the increasing interest in ATI and their products. This was seen as a survival move by Curtis because he had already shown that he could not develop and manage sales in this industry by himself. These new sales people could close sales, but their technical sales abilities in the firearms range and training industry were sometimes very lacking and therefore many sales suffered from their inabilities, lack of background and understanding.
Curtis also turned to hiring outside friends and contacts as his sales managers that had no background or understanding in the firing range and training industry. This caused additional financial problems for ATI by having to pay these personal contacts and friends mid-management pay to do what Curtis should have been doing. Sources close to Curtis saw that this management level did come with the one thing that Curtis wanted and required for his needed job security – blind “yes men” loyalty. Curtis could then wash his hands for being directly responsible for what was going on in sales or with a job gone bad, like the FBI fiasco, and could also more fully focus on what he really likes – being a managing executive or boss without having to be directly involved in day to day sales, range design and project work, and details.
Curtis was running ATI in a type of “high roller” liberal mentality that was sucking profits and resources out of ATI and putting the company into financial difficulties. Curtis became known as a big spender who seemed mostly interested in flash, throwing parties and receiving accolades. When he became a managing executive at ATI, he found new ways to spend company resources as he developed various expensive frills for the company and for those in his management circle. These included the practice of expensive vacations, cruises and exotic company trips, and he purchased an expensive ATI Porsche sports car to share with other managers. ATI was now floundering under Curtis’s leadership.
Curtis’s approach led to more expenditures and costs. Even though ATI revived to higher gross sales again, it also greatly increased in debt and debt service burden. This became clear when Roberts returned to ATI in 2004 as the Territory Sales Manager for the Northeast U.S. Sales Territory. ATI then demonstrated that they could not handle the large jobs that Roberts was developing, selling and bringing into the company.
The northeastern states had been the lowest performing area for sales in ATI history and had changed hands many times without sales success. Many of ATI’s products and firing ranges had never been sold in that area. After working the territory for about two years, Roberts produced two multi-million dollar sales at two different departments in 2006. However, the sale to Montgomery County in Pennsylvania for about $3.6 million dollars pulled the blinds open as to the real financial health of ATI. The Montgomery County sale was the largest single sale in ATI history to a city or county anywhere in the country. Curtis told Roberts that they could handle it and would provide the performance and payment bonds necessary for this project to close, which was all ready to go. Roberts had worked it out with the county commissioners for this project to be processed almost sole source with ATI and sold the job at an outstanding 63% margin.
However, when the final signed contracts and paperwork were due, ATI could not produce the promised payment and performance bonds that they had assured would be ready for the job. That failure to perform as promised went on for some time until Montgomery County sent a “notice to sue” letter to ATI. With that pressure, ATI finally finished the paperwork at their end and applied for a very expensive remedial substandard bonding situation that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to administer. Under this arrangement, each ATI major executive and stockholder had to sign, along with their wives, and they all had to put up their houses and assets for that bond to go through so they would not end up in a legal battle with Montgomery County. ATI was not paid as the work was completed, but the bonding company was paid directly and then when the bonding company’s on-site foreman inspected and cleared the work, which added an expensive layer of on-site management, they then paid ATI 30 to 60 days or so later. That arrangement cost ATI a deposit of $104,654.13 for bonds for this project just to get started – quite a lot more than ATI had quoted Roberts ($25k to $29k total). This turned out to be a financial catastrophe for ATI who passed the costs onto Roberts commissions and reduced them significantly. Hundreds of thousands were also paid out to administer this very undesirable situation. Roberts commissions were wrongfully used by ATI as a way to fund ATI’s financial shortfalls on a job that should have made ATI well over a million in profits.
The incompetence over the next few years became so extreme that DaNell D. Jukule, the Contracting Officer for the U.S. Army’s TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (“TACOM”), sent a rejection letter on Aug 3, 2010 to ATI that listed 39 deficiencies that warranted a ‘No Go’ rating for ATI. In the letter, Jukule openly mocked ATI’s performance and history with the following statement: “The above listed deficiencies, in and of themselves warrant your proposal’s exclusion from the competition. In addition, an initial evaluation of other factors indicates that your past performance information and your proposed sustainment strategy would be rated unfavorably as well, making it unlikely that your company would be awarded a contract as a result of this solicitation even if the technical deficiencies are not present.”
That letter showed that ATI failed in their bid attempt and the government pointed out how out of line and out of touch ATI was to even think that they could do business with TACOM. As that unfolded, several ATI sources stated that ATI dropped doing, or attempting to do business with the military and the U.S. Government. That was a huge blow to ATI who had hired more engineers and designers in 2009 for the Military Department and were working on plans to bid on other contracts a year or two before TACOM dropped them. At that time ATI “Blew Up” the Military and International departments for problems and lack of performance.
John Curtis was COO when this was all taking place. In 2009, Curtis started listing and selling real estate with a broker on the side. That seemed strange to high level employees at ATI. In retrospect, they thought maybe Curtis could see the writing on the wall about ATI’s future and the deep problems coming with the U.S. Government.
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In 1994, Roberts obtained a GSA contract and GSA number so ATI products could be sold directly to government groups without having to compete with ATI’s competitors. That process took about two years to complete. This allowed the federal government (and in some cases, state and local departments) to purchase right off of the ATI Product List. That greatly increased sales from that point on until about 2009 when ATI was put on probation and almost lost their GSA contract a number of times for not complying with required GSA rules and by simply not doing their required paperwork to properly renew ATI’s application to continue with a GSA contract. That simple procedural neglect affected ATI sales in a very negative manner and showed how incompetent John Curtis really was in the industry and in interfacing with a U.S. Government agency as important as GSA. Curtis openly admitted dropping the ball and apologized to the ATI sales department for that blunder that went on for years regarding GSA contract sales and business. And as usual, instead of fixing this problem with GSA himself, John passed the problem off to one of his ‘friend managers’ to handle. That was one of the reasons it was never addressed properly in the first place.
That was around the same time that Curtis decided to run for Mayor of Provo in 2009, and won. A source close to ATI and Curtis stated that, “Maybe John felt that his qualification and talents for destroying a large and very successful company would fit in well, and perhaps be better suited for being in government instead of trying to work with it, or around it.”
Curtis became Mayor of Provo in early 2010 and gradually began winding down at ATI but still took an important role during that transition. He was seen a lot during 2010 and less by 2011 coming to high level meetings as he kept phasing out of his active role. He is believed to still have retained his part ownership in the company.
However, all of the problems that would plague ATI for years, the legal actions taken against Curtis and ATI that included claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, fraud, wage claims and breach of contracts, all took place while Curtis was fully involved as COO at ATI. There is also evidence and sworn testimony that he took a very active role and remained involved at ATI for years after he became Mayor and participated in Board meetings, the sexual harassment and discrimination legal proceedings and other activities and was still acting in a management role to some degree.
One former ATI executive stated “How could John Curtis, in his wildest dreams, claim to be the one who, “Built a multi-million dollar company that employed hundreds right here in Utah””
“John Curtis was and is a cheat and liar who forced his wrongful will on others so often at ATI that it was just business as usual for him. Now he is Mayor of Provo and the Republican candidate for US Congress.” – Former ATI Executive
“Years of experience conducting firearms and shooting range training.”
John Curtis stated in his primary promotional flyer that he has “Years of experience conducting firearms and shooting range training for the U.S. Military, police departments and the NRA.” Once again, “experience conducting” has every appearance to be a deceptive and total overreaching lie by Curtis to perhaps obtain votes from the military and 2nd amendment defenders, both of which are a major demographic in Utah.
That claim by Curtis, to the best of our knowledge, is unfounded and at best, a blatant misrepresentation and misleading statement. There is no evidence that he has, or had, any certification to provide any form of firearms training to anyone, and he has never been observed providing training by anyone questioned in this investigation. No one even remembers Curtis doing any shooting on a firing range, let alone doing any training. He has, however, been observed at training events answering questions about ATI products.
Curtis was known to employees at ATI and in the industry as mostly a “pretty boy” and nice dresser who did not like to be on firing ranges. In reality, Curtis turned to a close friend for pointers who then helped Curtis be more competent at shooting in order to obtain his concealed firearms permit. [Editor’s Note – 1016/2017 at 1:03 pm: A reader pointed out that there is no proficiency requirement to get a concealed weapons permit in Utah. It is not know if Curtis knew that or not. To his credit, it’s a good thing that he wanted and received training.]
Before Curtis arrived at ATI, Addison Sovine and Scott Roberts had already developed relations with the U.S. Military and many other local and federal law enforcement departments across the country where Roberts did actual firearms training (mostly reactive combat shooting) at a number of indoor and outdoor ranges at military and law enforcement departments. Roberts was one of just a handful of experts in the industry who the NRA called upon for input and as a teacher at their Range Development and Design seminars and classes.
It has been noted that perhaps when Curtis bought his executive position from Roberts, Curtis felt that he also bought Roberts’ reputation with firearms training and experience in the industry and could make claims as such.
In a recent statement on his website on Oct 06, 2017, Curtis stated: “I have spent much of my adult life instructing people how to safely carry and use guns.”
In relation to this subject, the following is a transcription of a recorded interview with Curtis by USN publisher Ed Wallace:
Q. OK. Firearms instructions… what do you have to do to be a firearms instructor?
A. Well, it depends on who you’re teaching. Much of our work was centered on law enforcement and military, and of course, there are some very high standards for that. If you want to teach a concealed carry permit class, then you’d qualify with the state. It just depends on who you want to teach and what level you want to teach at.
Q. What level where you teaching at?
A. I was not a teacher. I built shooting ranges.
Q. Oh, I thought you were an instructor.
A. I lectured for the NRA on how to build shooting ranges. So, our specialty was in building the ranges.
Q. I think, in terms of the firearms instruction, nobody had ever seen you actually instructing. I think the issue is that you had claimed something like that on your campaign flier…
A. Yeah, I had lectured for the NRA. That was the claim on the fliers…. Because I had lectured for the NRA on how to build shooting ranges. I had done that for a number of years
“John is ‘slippier than a wet fish’ and always thinking that he did it all on his own and takes credit for things that he really never did. How could he in his wildest dreams, claim to have spent, “Years of experience conducting firearms and shooting range training for the U.S Military, police departments and the NRA? ” – former ATI executive
John Curtis Enters Politics
As reported in Provo’s Daily Herald in February of 2004, residents who lived near ATI voiced their frustrations with ATI to Provo City Council members. From 2002-2004, neighbors called the police a total of 39 times. The neighbors said the noise from the company could be heard late at night, the smells of paint were so pungent they could make people hallucinate, and the trucks that travel down the streets blocked residential driveways. The city also received complaints about the business for both fire and zoning issues.
The neighbors even organized a group calling themselves the Residents Take Action Committee and gathered signatures on a petition. Provo zoning officers found ATI to be in violation of at least one zoning law, telling employees more than once that it was illegal to paint outside. “We’ve gone way out of our way to accommodate these neighbors,” said John Curtis. City Council Chairman Dave Knecht said “We wish the business well, but being a good neighbor means there are responsibilities,” Knecht said. “And the law makes the responsibilities clear.”
There were numerous violations at the company in the past when zoning officers would tell ATI to stop, and they would comply. Then zoning officers would be called out again for a similar violation. Provo zoning officers issued a notice of violation on Sept 5, 2005 to Action Target for painting outdoors in a light manufacturing zone. Kyle Bateman (ATI CEO) said “…it raises the question of whether businesses are being treated unfairly for political reasons….There is a systematic unfair application of zoning rules (in Provo).” Community Development Director Gary McGinn, said the outdoor painting constituted a zoning violation. “If he’s doing business outside, it should be in a fully enclosed area,” he said. “Period.”
Around this same time period, Bateman announced to ATI employees that he would be willing to help finance anyone who wanted to run for a public office in Provo. Many in the company saw this as a blatant attempt to establish a power base in Provo City politics and influence the city’s stance on ATI. John Curtis ran for Provo Mayor in that next election cycle as a Republican in 2009. In 2008, Kyle himself ran for the Utah State Education Board for district 13 and won, but then withdrew when he “discovered” that he did not live in district 13 (as required by law). See And the winner is … not who you thought and Tribune Article: Kyle Bateman “discovers” he lives out of area and declines State School Board 13 position.
From an article ‘A Tale of Two Curtis’s’ the following is written: “In Spring 2006, Curtis changed his political affiliation from Democrat to ‘unaffiliated’ without explanation or reason. However, shortly after this time Representative Jeff Alexander resigned from his State House seat and Curtis threw his hat, once again, into the race for a State-level political seat. But there was one major difference with this political race which drew heavy criticism towards John Curtis’ campaign: this time around, he was running as a Republican. An article I found in the Deseret News adequately sums up the concerns of this decision: “The owner of Action Target, a Provo business, Curtis ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat in 2000 against state Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, but a far more recent act clearly miffed some delegates Tuesday night: Curtis didn’t register as a Republican until Nov. 30, nearly two months after Alexander announced he would give up his seat in the Utah House and the same day news reports announced the process to replace him.”
The article continues: “Curtis sought to console the concerns of the leery Republican Party by telling delegates of House District 62 that he was, indeed, a “lifelong Republican” who only switched over to the Democratic Party “in an effort to give Utah County voters more choices at the ballot box.””
Other articles worth noting that were written during the 2009 Provo Mayoral campaign about the Curtis are: ‘Chicago Politics: Courtesy of John Curtis’, ‘Curious Financial Disclosures’ and ‘Dramatic Shift to the Right or Left?’.
One critic recently stated “Curtis likes to brag that Provo’s “property taxes are lower than they were eight years ago” and has made statements that he has never raised taxes because the Mayor of Provo doesn’t have the authority to raise taxes. This is a half truth and deception because yes, the mayor is not the king, but when the Provo City Council asked to raise taxes and utilities, Curtis supported those requests 46 times.”
As Provo Mayor, Curtis also proposed double digit spending increases and raising utility rates by 20%. He also supported a $12 million sales tax increase, backed four property tax increases, pushed to raise Utah’s gas tax by 20%, increased spending by 40% and accepted a $20,000 raise. All of this information was available to the public in numerous newspaper articles and by opposition research.
His critics wonder how much BRT is going to cost Utah County and how ugly and unsafe downtown Provo will become. His stance on immigration and currant illegal aliens are also giving him problems within the Republican party.
His recent video ad shows him standing in front of the ATI building and sign, so even in 2017, he is still claiming a connection and roots in ATI.
Publisher’s Note: I asked John Curtis a number of questions concerning his involvement with ATI before and after he became Provo Mayor in 2010. Curtis stated to me that “ I had sold my small ownership and actually stopped working day-to-day at Action Target some months before I started as Mayor…. it was a slow phase out, but I can tell you… by the time the campaign had heated up, with the primaries, in the spring of 2009, I was doing no day-to-day [at ATI.]…it had ended by the time I was Mayor.” Curtis then stated that he still attended ATI board meetings ‘From time to time.”
However, Scott Roberts stated about those claims by Curtis: “From what I know, John Curtis was still deeply involved, maybe not with a lot of time, but at an executive level and in Board meetings because I saw him at some of those meetings after 2010. The only people that were ever allowed to attend those meetings where top level executive management and invited shareholders. Those meetings were very private and included the discussion of sensitive subjects that were not available to the public.”
It was somewhat “street” knowledge to those employed at ATI that when Dubin Clark took over ATI they were said to have purchased about 50% of the ATI stock owned by the then current stockholders. The other approximately 50% was placed back into stock in the new CT Company of ATI to be sold or redeemed at a later date when Dubin Clark sells ATI. ATI is still in the Current Portfolio of Dubin Clark companies.
Also, Curtis kept going on the yearly vacations or cruises for exclusive executive/owner and top sales producers, along with their spouses, through 2011 when I was still with ATI and maybe so for Curtis beyond 2011”
As of 10/11/2017, Curtis is still listed as the 2nd most important person at ATI at Wikipedia, along with a link highlighting his name.
A Republican insider said “His (Curtis) approval rating is something that is based on the fact that John‘s claims are well calculated popularity statements and positions because so many individuals have been duped into extending to John way too much common courtesy or face value trust and belief.”
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