The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Utah prosecutor told door-knocking candidate to ‘die and go to hell.’ He blamed a disturbed nap.

Salt Lake City council member Darin Mano gives a speech during Utah Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. (Facebook)

Salt Lake City Council member Darin Mano returned home Saturday night from passing out fliers for his first-ever campaign to find a profanity-laden email in his inbox. The furious sender claimed Mano’s knock at the door had waked him from a nap.

The emailer said he hated Mano, along with the council member’s family, his campaign team and his supporters. “Kindly die and go to hell,” the note said.

Then Mano saw who had sent it: Steven A. Wuthrich, an assistant attorney general in the Utah attorney general’s office.

The message left Mano and his campaign team shaken. “The part that actually affected me was the ‘I hate your family,’” Mano told The Washington Post, “more than any of the other words that he used.”

Mano, the city’s first Asian American council member, was appointed to fill Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s former seat in January 2020. This November will be his first time on the ballot. It will also be the first time the city uses ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, to determine its municipal election.

Wuthrich, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday, has since apologized for the email. Mano told The Post that while he appreciated the apology, he felt compelled to share Wuthrich’s email on Facebook this week amid the spate of violent attacks Asian Americans have faced across the country.

The council member gave a speech last month urging Asian Americans in Utah to report incidents of hate speech and violence. He said that speech also spurred him to share Wuthrich’s letter publicly.

“As an Asian American and member of the LGBTQ+ community, I must stand up against hate speech and call it out when I see it,” Mano said.

On Saturday, Mano had been visiting registered voters in his district and handing out fliers about his campaign that featured photos of him with his partner, Kevin Randall, and their children. When he visited Wuthrich’s home, no one answered a knock at the front door, Mano said, so he moved on to the next house on the street.

Mano had unwittingly roused Wuthrich and his wife from a midday nap after the knock woke their dogs. Several hours later, Mano received the angry email.

“On a nice Saturday afternoon myself and my wife and my downstairs tenant were all taking a lovely siesta when some motherf---ing ignorant son-of-b---- rang our doorbell and put your piece s--- unwanted solicitation in our door waking the dogs and waking us and the neighbors with an uproar,” Wuthrich wrote. “I will do everything in my power to see you never get elected to any office higher than dog catcher.”

Mano told The Post that he does not know what motivated Wuthrich to send the email or what sparked the rage. But he also noted that the photos on the flier left at Wuthrich’s home showed the councilman posing with his partner and their children. It also emphasized Mano’s perspective as a person of color.

“As you can see my family and my heritage are featured prominently,” he wrote on Facebook. “Though the email I received did not mention my race or sexuality, it did feel personal.”

Wuthrich told local media on Tuesday that he reacted with “undue anger” after his nap was disturbed.

“Since then, I have regretted the ferocity and language of that email. My words were uncivil and unprofessional,” Wuthrich told the Salt Lake Tribune. “From me personally, I apologize to Salt Lake City Councilman Darin Mano and his family.”

Mano told The Post that he had not heard directly from Wuthrich.

“I’m hopeful this has been a learning experience for us all that we need to slow down, think before we react, and treat each other with kindness and respect,” Mano said in a statement Tuesday night. “I am still Mr. Wuthrich’s representative and the invitation to hear his views about Salt Lake City and District 5 remains open.”