Campaign for Accountability filed complaints with the Utah, Arizona and Montana Attorneys General requesting investigations into Utah State Representative Ken Ivory (R-West Jordan) for engaging in an illegal scheme to defraud local government officials out of taxpayer funds.
CfA alleges Rep. Ivory has solicited funds from local officials, falsely claiming the federal government can be forced to transfer public lands to the states.
In addition to serving in the Utah state legislature, Rep. Ivory runs a non-profit called the American Lands Council (ALC), the mission of which is to transfer federal lands to state governments. Rep. Ivory serves as ALC’s president while his wife, Becky, serves as communications director. The group’s tax forms show it raised $209,177 in 2013, primarily through contributions made by county governments. More than 50 percent of the organization's most recent budget was spent enriching Rep. Ivory and his wife. In 2013, ALC paid $95,000 to Rep. Ivory and $19,715 to his wife.
Rep. Ivory regularly travels across Western states making presentations to commissions and local governments to induce them to become paying members of ALC. He claims the federal government only holds land in trust and has no legal right to the land, meaning it can be forced to return control of the land to the states. He further contends return of the land would be a financial boon to the states.
Despite Rep. Ivory’s claims, there is near universal consensus – as stated by the Utah Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel – the policy solution Rep. Ivory promotes has “a high probability of being declared unconstitutional.” In addition, a report prepared for one Utah city council found such legislation actually would result in less revenue for Utah and would “pose complex economic challenges to the state.” Montana Governor Steve Bullock has said Montana can’t afford to manage federal lands, a sentiment echoed by former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
Not only are the land transfers peddled by Rep. Ivory unconstitutional, making false or fraudulent representations to obtain money constitutes fraud under Utah, Arizona, and Montana state law.
CfA Executive Director Anne Weismann said, “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.”
Ms. Weismann continued, “Rep. Ivory is a snake oil salesman, cloaked with respectability by his position as a legislator. Local government officials need to learn the truth about Rep. Ivory’s claims before they are suckered into parting with taxpayer funds.”
View the complaints filed by Campaign for Accountability here: