Utah Legislature is investigating questioned billings from public-land-transfer lawyers, consultants

By: Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, July 8, 2016

The Utah Legislature is reevaluating the $912,000 it has paid to lawyers and other outside consultants after an advocacy group pointed out some expenditures appear to fall outside the scope and restrictions outlined in their contracts, such as first-class air travel and stays at high-end hotels.

The contracts are part of lawmakers’ outsourced efforts to force the federal government to relinquish title to 31 million acres of public land in Utah. A team of legal experts provided a 140-page analysis telling lawmakers they had a good case.

But invoices submitted by the Davillier Law Group and its lead associate on the Utah project, John Howard of San Diego, were littered with inaccuracies, irregularities and reimbursements for prohibited pricey accommodations, Campaign for Accountability (CfA) alleged in a letter Wednesday to the Legislature’s Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands.

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