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Rolly: Lawmaker’s constitutional causes earn him money


| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published May 24 2014 12:05 pm • Last Updated May 24 2014 09:47 pm

Before there was the American Lands Council there was Where’s the Line? And before that there was a $100,000 lawsuit against the city of West Jordan for First Amendment free speech violations.

I’m talking about Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, who seems to have a habit of monetizing his perceptions of the Constitution and his need to protect it.

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As chronicled in the Tribune Sunday, Ivory is the director of the American Lands Council, a tax exempt nonprofit that he co-founded in 2012.

It’s mission is to organize support from local governments, businesses and organizations to secure and defend local control of federal land. He has signed up five dozen corporate, government and individual members with Gold Level memberships costing $25,000 each.

There are also lower level memberships at less money, but the counties that join, in mostly rural areas throughout the west, do so using taxpayer money.

One blogger in Park County, Wyo., wrote that he tried to find information about the American Lands Council after discovering his county commission paid $5,000 of tax money to join up.

His research revealed the American Lands Council gets much of its support form Bert and Kathy Smith of Ogden, well known and financially generous supporters of Glenn Beck’s "9-12" movement.

Ivory paid himself $40,000 in 2012, the only year the council has filed its federal tax return so far, and paid his wife an undisclosed amount.

He also, as a legislator, sponsored legislation touting the states rights theme.

But that’s now.

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His cause in 2011, the first year he was in the Legislature, was "Where’s the Line?" — a cause he championed through seminars, tutorials and in a book he wrote throwing out alarmist signals about the overreach of the federal government and the threat to individual liberties.

He spent much of his time at the Legislature promoting that cause and sponsored legislation that, again, addressed the federalism issue. At the tutorials, targeting mostly tea party groups, he would pitch his book, which also appeared for sale at booths at Republican county conventions.

Then there was the lawsuit.

Ivory, an attorney, appeared at a public hearing before the West Jordan City Council in 2001 to speak in opposition to a proposed mixed-use development near the city’s main park.

The rules of the hearing limited members of the public to three minutes each when they addressed the council on the issue. But when Ivory spoke, he went over the three minutes and after being told several times his time was up and refusing to yield, then-Mayor Donna Evans had him removed from the meeting.

According to a Salt Lake Tribune account, Ivory repeatedly called elected officials lawbreakers "at the top of his lungs" before being escorted out of the council chambers by West Jordan police.

Ivory then sued the city, claiming it violated his First Amendment right to free speech, demanding more than $100,000 in damages.

The 57-page complaint named 11 defendants, even though some of the city officials named were not even at the meeting in question.

The lawsuit was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell in 2006 after several years of litigation and thousands of pages of motions and depositions. Campbell ruled there was no constitutional grounds for his complaint and he was not discriminated against. But he filed an appeal with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and at that point, West Jordan agreed to pay him a $10,000 settlement to avoid endless appeals and litigation that would have cost the city much more than that.

Early in the lawsuit, Ivory offered to drop the suit for $30,000, but the city declined.

So Ivory might be passionate about his causes, but they always seem to come with some sort of payment to himself.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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