National ethics group calls for investigation of Utah Rep. Mike Noel ‘for failing to disclose conflicts of interest’

By: Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, February 21, 2018

Utah Rep. Mike Noel’s apparent failure to disclose significant land holdings worth $1.2 million near and in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has prompted a formal ethics complaint and an inquisitive letter from a Democratic congressman to the Interior Department.

Last week, the environmental group Western Values Project (WVP) released an analysis showing the irrigated land Noel owns in Kane County’s Johnson Canyon poses a potential, yet undisclosed conflict of interest.

Noel’s legislative efforts to shrink the monument and win approval for the Lake Powell pipeline could benefit him personally, the group argued — but are not mentioned in legally required conflict-of-interest disclosures on file with the Utah Legislature.

The Campaign for Accountability, a liberal ethics watchdog based in Washington, D.C., is now asking Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to look into the matter. A complaint filed Tuesday accuses Noel of breaking state anti-nepotism laws and violating his fiduciary duty in his role as longtime executive director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District.

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