West Jordan - There’s been a spotlight on West Jordan City, amid confusion, division and secret closed-door meetings of the City Council—but now the City Council has to share that spotlight with Utah Rep. Ken Ivory from West Jordan, who was accused of fraud by a D.C. group called the Campaign for Accountability on June 1.
The CfA’s fraud allegations center on what they say is a misuse of funds and false claims made by the nonprofit that Ivory leads, the American Lands Council, to generate an income for Ivory and his wife. The CfA is asking attorneys general in three states, including Utah, to investigate their claims.
In their June 1 statement, the Campaign for Accountability said, “Rep. Ivory has devised a scheme to defraud individuals, including local lawmakers, by making false statements to persuade them to donate to his personal non-profit organization, which exists primarily to pay him and his wife.”
The CfA said that the Lands Transfer Act is unconstitutional; they also state that Ivory’s claim that this act would generate a windfall of revenue to the state of Utah is fraudulent. According to the CfA, a lands transfer would “impose prohibitively expensive costs on the states.”
Already, Utah is investing $2 million to take their fight for the transfer of lands after the deadline passed on their demanded 30 million acres from the federal government in 2014.
The organization is also concerned that Ivory is profiting off of House Bill 148—legislation that passed with Ivory’s sponsorship in 2013.
Ivory has dismissed claims by the CfA concerning the unconstitutionality of the Lands Transfer Act.
The federal government owns over half of Utah’s land, a situation that Ivory and other proponents of land transfer back to the states say is not only one that is historically necessary but that will lead to an economic windfall to the states that regain their land, as well as better environmental use of that land as it comes into local control.
Ivory maintained that the claims made by the Campaign for Accountability are the product of a leftist agenda that wants to intimidate the American Lands Council “because we are having success spreading the word that there is a path to more effective, local management of public lands.”
Responding to criticism on The Salt Lake Tribune’s “Trib Talk” about the over $100,000 that IRS tax records show Ivory and his wife received in compensation from the ALC in 2013, Ivory said he’s been hired “as an educator” by the organization. He said he has disclosed his employment with the Utah legislature and should be compensated for his position at the ALC. “I’ve been hired to do a job,” he said.
He also said the claim that he is lying to the local counties was made without talking to the counties.
“Locally, West Jordan City and Chamber of Commerce, South Jordan City and our own Western Growth Coalition, the Utah Republican party—to name just a few—have all weighed in with their support for the transfer of public lands for more effective, local control of our lands,” Ivory said.
So far, it seems that the truth of statements about the constitutionality or lack thereof of the Lands Transfer Act has been a hotly debated game of he said, she said.
The CfA stated that legal scholars at the University of Utah have maintained “the federal government has absolute control over federal public lands, including the constitutional authority to retain lands in federal ownership.”
Meanwhile, the ALC cites a Brigham Young University law review, which Ivory says concludes that “the federal government has a duty to transfer its title to the public lands,” and says the University of Utah analysis “conveniently omit[s] many stubborn facts to reach their agenda-driven conclusions.”