Are Utah taxpayers Footing Bill for Land-Transfer Lawyers’ Lavish Travel?

By: Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, July 6, 2016

Lawyers and other consultants promoting Utah’s bid to take control of public lands have billed the state for luxury travel as well as for work that appears outside the scope of their contracts, according to a review of invoices posted on the Utah Legislature’s website. One lawyer spent $3,100 at Salt Lake City’s finest hotels and regularly flew first class, courtesy of Utah taxpayers.

The Legislature’s Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands last year hired the New Orleans law firm Davillier Law Group to assemble an analysis and build a legal case for land transfer, and hired Logan-based think tank Strata Policy to develop advocacy materials. But their invoices suggest taxpayers are getting stuck with inappropriate bills, according to a Washington, D.C. based watchdog group.

Campaign for Accountability (CfA) sent a letter to commission co-chairs Rep. Keven Stratton and Sen. David Hinkins on Wednesday, arguing they are shirking their fiduciary duty to be wise stewards of taxpayer dollars. The letter calls on the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel to immediately audit all expenditures associated with the land-transfer contracts, which expressly prohibit reimbursements for alcohol, tobacco and luxury items, as well as for lobbying.

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