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Tim Ballard Considering Senate Run Despite Allegations of Sexual Misconduct and Fraud

Ballard is the former CEO of anti-human-trafficking nonprofit Operation Underground Railroad.
Gage Skidmore
Tim Ballard speaking with attendees at the 2023 Turning Point Action Conference at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Courtesy of Flickr)


Tim Ballard, former CEO of Operation Underground Railroad, stepped down in March 2023 after an investigation into reports of sexual misconduct involving seven women. Despite this, there is speculation he will run for Sen. Mitt Romney’s seat in 2024.

In a recent interview, Ballard said he is in fact considering the run for U.S. Senate after Romney resigns. Sources close to Ballard have confirmed this statement.

According to Vice News, sources close to the investigation said Ballard invited women to “act as his wife” during undercover missions to rescue victims of sex trafficking. These women were pressured by Ballard into sharing a bed or showering with him in order to “fool traffickers” and save children. These sources said that Ballard sent one woman a sexually explicit picture of himself and asked another woman “how far she was willing to go” to save children.

Mathew Burbank, professor of political science at the University of Utah, commented on the consequences the allegations against Ballard will have on his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat.

“For the most part, Ballard is a person who voters don’t know,” he said. “If their first introduction to him is this whole question about sexual misconduct and fraud, it leaves a very negative message that will be difficult for Ballard to overcome.”

Ballard has denied the allegations, saying they are “baseless inventions designed to destroy me and the movement we have built to end the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable children.”

Annie Fukushima is the Project Lead and Co-Principal Investigator of the Gender-Based Violence Consortium at the U. She said these allegations are a reminder of the important steps that need to take place for powerful people who do anti-violence work.

“It’s a reminder that just because people do anti-violence work, it doesn’t mean they’re outside the social dynamics which qualifies someone as an abuser,” she said. “These folks need to be continually self-reflective and constantly work on themselves.”

The investigation into sexual misconduct came on the heels of another inquiry into OUR which began back in 2020. Conducted by the Davis County Attorney’s Office, this inquiry was focused on concerns with inflated rescue numbers, witness tampering and other forms of fraud.

The investigation found that OUR was inflating its numbers by telling donors that the organization would save one sex-trafficked child with every $1,250 donated. However, former OUR employee Cherstyn Stockwell told the Salt Lake Tribune that she was “bothered” that the company led the public to believe they were still liberating children globally because “that’s just not true,” she told investigators.

Donors who were unaware of these false claims helped OUR raise tens of millions of dollars.

Burbank said these false claims will have major consequences on the trust donors have with the organization.

“This controversy is going to scare away donors who have contributed money in the past,” he said, “And it will drive away donors who may have contributed in the future.”

In the past, Ballard and M. Russell Ballard — one of the twelve apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — were known to have a close friendship. Amid the allegations, that relationship was severed by Russell Ballard. Not long after, The LDS church released a statement iterating their distance from the former OUR president.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints never endorsed, supported or represented OUR, Tim Ballard or any projects associated with them,” the statement read.

Despite the investigations and the church’s statement, Ballard has denied any allegations brought against him — particularly the ones regarding sexual assault.

“During my time at OUR, I designed strict guidelines for myself and our operators in the field,” Ballard said in a statement made to The SPEAR Fund — another anti-slave-trafficking organization. “Sexual contact was prohibited, and I led by example. Given our meticulous attention to this issue, any suggestion of inappropriate sexual contact is categorically false.”


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About the Contributor
Jamie Faux, News Writer
(she/her) Jamie Faux began as a news reporter at the Daily Utah Chronicle in the summer of 2023. She is a double major in English and finance at the University of Utah with the goal of becoming an author after graduation. Jamie grew up in Provo and enjoys outdoor sports, reading, and traveling.

Comments (4)

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  • S

    SarahOct 29, 2023 at 6:59 pm

    Elder Ballard send to be barely hanging in there. I doubt he’s too concerned about rumors. This article seems to just be parroting Vice. Whether Tim is guilty or not shouldn’t the Daily Chronicle be above hype supermarket tabloid level?

  • B

    Bring Them YoungOct 15, 2023 at 12:54 am


    Come on people, don’t let this buffoon into public office.

  • S

    ShemOct 4, 2023 at 11:10 pm

    The name of M. Russell Ballard is misspelled. It has two L’s i n it.

  • K

    Kristi DowdingOct 2, 2023 at 12:29 pm

    Great article and we’ll written!