Representative Ken Ivory (Republican – West Jordan) received fresh allegations of misusing taxpayer dollars to benefit himself and his family by using his position as a lawmaker to add legitimacy to the American Lands Council (ALC), an organization created to transfer federal lands to the state – which is run by himself and his wife, Becky.
Campaign for Accountability (CFA) requested that the attorneys general of Utah, Arizona, and Montana formally investigate Ivory’s relationship with ALC and how he may be “engaging in an illegal scheme to defraud local government officials out of taxpayer funds.”
CFA, a national organization with the stated mission of “[using] research, litigation and aggressive communications to expose misconduct” would point to recent tax documents that show that ALC raised just under $210,000 last year and, of that, $95,000 went to Representative Ivory as president while nearly $20,000 went to Becky Ivory, Representative Ivory’s wife, as the organisation’s communication director.
This is the second time in as many months that Ivory as received ethics complaints from outside organizations. Last month, Utah Political Capitol reported that Ivory received a formal request for an investigation in Colorado. That group, Colorado Ethics Watch, alleged that ALC has been lobbying lawmakers without a license and not reporting income – a requirement for seeking the ear of Denver policymakers.
CFA Executive Director Anne Weismann didn’t pull punches in her feelings towards Ivory: “Representative Ivory is a snake oil salesman, cloaked with respectability by his position as a legislator. Local governments need to learn the truth about Representative Ivory’s claims before they are suckered into parting with taxpayer funds.”
“Ken Ivory has relied on his position and authority as a Utah state legislator to persuade unsuspecting local officials that if they contribute taxpayer dollars to his charity, they can help their states acquire federal land and increase revenues. He might as well be trying to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge,” Weismann would add.
This time last year, Ivory and some of his fellow conservative lawmakers were told by the Utah Attorney General’s Office that a takeover of federal land would be an expensive proposition – in December, this was confirmed by a near 800 page study released by the University of Utah, Utah State University, and Weber State University, along with the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, which stated, among other things, that Utah only stands a chance to make a profit on a land transfer if the federal government forfeits its own taxes and that oil be at least $62 a barrel.
Ivory told The Salt Lake Tribune that the allegations are “a shameful and desperate political stunt” orchestrated by groups afraid of the support pro-transfer groups are receiving. “These groups spend decades opposing [land] management through litigation. Now we have a crisis. The health of the land is catastrophic and productivity is depressed.”
The CFA would add that Ivory misrepresents the claim that there is universal consensus that a land transfer is possible, pointing to the Legislative Review Note on Ivory’s 2012 legislation – HB 148 – Transfer of Public Lands Act and Related Study. That legislative note states that the law, which passed, has “a high probability of of being declared unconstitutional.”
Utah has set aside $2 million to defend HB 148 under the assumption that it will be challenged in court.
On Monday night, the Utah Attorney General’s Office issued a statement that it will review the accusation to determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed, however, it will not provide specifics of this case until the case is either closed or taken to trial.
Also on Monday night, ALS took to Twitter, sending the same tweet twice that implying that the allegations are “A sure sign [ALS] is winning!” ALS would also send the same five tweets in forty minutes stating that “The only time you attempt to destroy the messenger is when you fear the message.” In the hour and a half Twitter flurry, ALS would conclude by stating that the allegations were “Desperate bullying, the opposition obviously fears the message.”