Government Watchdog Calls for Investigation of Utah State Rep. Michael Noel for Violating Conflict of Interest and Anti-Nepotism Laws
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 20, 2018
Contact: Daniel Stevens, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, called on Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to open an investigation into Utah State Representative Michael Noel (R-Kanab) for failing to disclose conflicts of interest, making false or deceptive statements, misusing public money, and violating anti-nepotism rules.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens stated, “Rep. Mike Noel has left no stone unturned in his decade-long campaign to channel public money into his own pocket. He’s paid his daughter to work for him, and he used taxpayer money to fix his son-in-law’s broken truck. Now he wants the public to fund a billion-dollar pipeline that would uniquely benefit his own ranch. The people of Utah deserve to know if one of their elected representatives is using their money for his own personal financial benefit.”
Through his legislative position and in his role as the executive director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District (KCWCD), Rep. Noel has continually advocated for policies that would benefit him financially while 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, on behalf of 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 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. In response, Rep. Noel asked the firm that wrote the assessment to increase the water needs for Kane County.
Rep. Noel has engaged in other questionable conduct at KCWCD. According to KCWCD’s website and newsletter, his daughter, Jennifer Stewart, serves as the group’s executive secretary, and apparently has held this position for more than a decade in violation of anti-nepotism laws. In response to a previous complaint, Rep. Noel turned Ms. Stewart into “a contract employee working for him.” In 2017, however, KCWCD paid Ms. Stewart $6,216 in salary.
In addition, in November 2015, on behalf of KCWCD, Rep. Noel sold a Dodge truck to his son-in-law for use at Rep. Noel’s Flood Canyon Ranch. In July 2017, Rep. Noel persuaded the KCWCD Board to pay at least $4,000 to repair alleged problems with the same truck, potentially violating prohibitions on the misuse of public money.
Stevens continued, “Rep. Noel is abusing his government position to advance his own personal interests. The Utah Attorney General’s Office should immediately investigate and hold Rep. Noel accountable.”
Note: CfA will be hosting a telephonic press conference to discuss Rep. Noel’s conflicts of interest and CfA’s request for an investigation. Please contact us to let us know if you’ll be joining the call. Details:
Date: February 20, 2018
Time: 2:00 pm EST
Call: (888) 862-6557
Campaign for Accountability is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, nonpartisan 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.