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Rolly: Ah, those conflicts of interest — they’re as common on Utah’s Capitol Hill as hallway lobbyists and backroom deals

First Published      Last Updated Mar 09 2017 10:23 pm

Rep. Ken Ivory wrote the book "Where's the Line? How States Protect the Constitution," which warns of federal overreach and how that violates individual rights.

But the phrase "where's the line?" also could be a question about Ivory's blurring of responsibilities as a Utah legislator with causes he is paid to promote.

Ivory has been scrutinized as a paid executive for the American Lands Council, which accepts dues-paying memberships from local governments and businesses to lobby for land transfers from the federal government to states, while sponsoring and promoting bills in the Legislature to obtain the same goal.




He no longer is a paid staffer for the ALC, but he seems to be at it again in a different format.

This year, Ivory sponsored HB207, which would appropriate $350,000 to expand curriculum developed by the state and Utah Valley University to study the constitutional relationship between the federal government and states.

The money would be available to the Commission on Federalism, created in 2013 by Ivory-sponsored legislation, to hire consultants to help with the curriculum.

One national organization with the experience to do such a job is Citizens for Self Governance, which is leading a movement for a constitutional convention to rein in federal power.

According to Ivory's conflict-of-interest form on the Utah House website, he is a consultant for Citizens for Self Governance Convention of States Action.

Ivory's bill cleared the House, but failed in the Senate after some senators expressed concerns about how the money would be spent.

Making waves • Ivory's role as a consultant for Citizens for Self Governance Convention of States Action has taken him to several other states, where he has lobbied for a constitutional convention. He has sponsored past constitutional convention resolutions in Utah and was a vocal supporter this year of such a measure, sponsored by Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville.

It passed the House, but fell short in the Senate.

After the Senate vote, the website of Citizens for Self Governance Convention of States Action, as well as right-wing national radio commentator Mark Levin, called on folks to flood Utah senators with emails condemning their action.

Several senators said they received thousands of emails, almost all from out of state, beginning with the phrase "Shame on you."

Speaking of conflicts • Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, pushed through this year an ongoing appropriation of $2 million a year for Big Game Forever to lobby Congress and advocate for predator-control programs — despite criticisms of the group's lack of transparency in how it has spent taxpayer money in the past.

Big Game Forever is associated with Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, headed by powerful lobbyist Don Peay.

Peay has close ties to Donald Trump, primarily through the president's adult sons.

Peay also is a leading cheerleader for Noel's bid to become the new national director of the Bureau of Land Management.

More back-scratching • Then-legislator Curt Oda raised eyebrows last year when he seemed to manipulate the electoral process to ensure his handpicked successor replaced him in the House.

Oda, who for years was a leading legislative advocate for gun rights, filed to run for re-election, which discouraged other potential candidates from stepping foward because of his incumbency.

Then, just before the deadline, he withdrew and Syracuse City Councilwoman Karianne Lisonbee filed to run.

That virtually guaranteed Lisonbee's victory in House District 14 because she is a Republican and any credible Republican who might have filed against her was blindsided by the last-minute switch.

Lisonbee has done her due diligence for the gun-loving Oda. She sponsored HB198 which would lower the age for qualifying for a concealed-weapon permit from 21 to 18.

Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, sponsored HB295, which was designed to do away with any future shenanigans like Oda's anointing of a successor. The bill would allow for reopening of a candidate-filing period if an incumbent files a declaration of candidacy and later withdraws.

Ward's bill was deep-sixed in committee; Lisonbee's measure cleared both chambers.

After all, we don't want to take away the "you-scratch-my-back" perk on Capitol Hill.

 

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