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Good-Government Group Seeks Probe of Utah Lands-Transfer Leader

Courtesy: BLM

A new good-government group, called the Campaign for Accountability, is calling for an investigation of the nonprofit behind the lands-transfer movement and the Utah lawmaker in charge of it.

The group is asking the attorneys general in Utah and two other states to investigate Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, and his American Lands Council, the political group that wants the federal government to transfer lands in the West to state ownership and oversight.

Anne Weismann, the director of the nonprofit Campaign for Accountability, says Ivory’s effort isn’t political speech -- it’s fraud.

“When you are pedaling something that has been widely discredited,” says Weismann, citing several reports, “and you are attempting to collect money based on a promise that you can successfully return lands – I think that crosses a line.”

Weismann calls Ivory a “snake oil salesman” who’s leveraging his legislative office to promote an idea that some say is “unconstitutional” and that goes against the best interests of Lands Council contributors. Those contributors include 21 of Utah’s 29 counties and local governments in Arizona and Montana.

But Ken Ivory counters that the lands-transfer idea has widespread support because its potential public benefits.

“Somehow radical fringe groups like this want to try to make that into some type of crime and shut down political debate. Shame on them.”

The complaint was filed Monday with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, whose office continues to explore legal paths to a lands transfer. Meanwhile, the Utah Legislature and Utah counties continue studying how to manage 30 million acres now controlled by the federal government.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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