CfA Applauds Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes for Opening an Investigation into State Rep. Mike Noel
Noel Confirmed the Investigation in a Radio Interview
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2018
Contact: Daniel Stevens, 202.780.5750, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability’s (CfA) Executive Director released a statement applauding Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes for opening an investigation into Utah State Rep. Mike Noel, who recently announced he is retiring, for failing to disclose his conflicts of interest, making false or deceptive statements, misusing public money, and violating anti-nepotism rules.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens said, “It’s remarkable that Rep. Noel somehow seems to believe he’s exempt from the conflict of interest laws that apply to all Utah legislators. Rep. Noel’s public statements – admitting he didn’t disclose his holdings – have made the attorney general’s job easier.”
On February 20, 2018, CfA asked Attorney General Reyes to investigate Rep. Noel for using his government positions to enrich himself and failing to disclose his conflicts of interest. Rep. Noel is an owner of Noel Properties LLC, which controls $1.3 million worth of land in Kane County, Utah. Utah law requires state representatives to file financial disclosure forms identifying “each entity in which [the legislator] is an owner or officer.” Rep. Noel appears to have violated this statute by failing to disclose his ownership in annual forms and before votes that might impact his property.
Additionally, as the executive director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District (KCWCD), Rep. Noel has continually advocated to develop the Lake Powell Pipeline (LPP) as part of a long-term water supply plan for southern Utah, shepherding legislation promoting the LPP, and serving as a member of the LPP Management Committee, which oversees development of the pipeline. An assessment prepared for the Utah Board of Water Resources, however, determined that the KCWCD does not need the LPP with the notable exception that the area where Rep. Noel owns a substantial portion of irrigated farmland might benefit.
On March 9, Salt Lake City public radio station KCPW released reporter Emily Means’ February 28, 2018 interview with Rep. Noel, in which he admitted, “I’ve talked to the attorney general’s office, and they will investigate it fully” (17:31)
Rep. Noel also made demonstrably false statements in the interview. He claimed, “There’s nothing that I’ve done that is incorrect. I’ve reported it.” In fact, however, Rep. Noel did not disclose his property ownership on the financial disclosure forms legislators are required to file annually. Nor did he disclose his interest before votes that might impact his property, another potential legal violation. Rep. Noel insisted, “There’s no proof,” despite the fact that he filed the Articles of Incorporation for Noel Properties LLC with the Utah Secretary of State’s Office, and he is currently the registered agent for the company.
Rep. Noel has offered shifting explanations for failing to disclose his ownership in Noel Properties LLC. He initially told the Salt Lake Tribune that the property was owned through a family trust, but later asserted the LLC is the corporate name for his Flood Canyon Ranch. Finally, he admitted to KCPW that he owns property through the LLC, as CfA alleged in its complaint.
Following CfA’s complaint, Rep. Noel announced his retirement from the Utah Legislature.
Stevens continued, “Rep. Noel seems surprised that he was finally called out for using his government positions to benefit himself and his family. The Attorney General should investigate this matter fully and hold Rep. Noel accountable.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.