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Citing a low likelihood of conviction, lawyers with the Utah attorney general's office announced Wednesday they had concluded an investigation into, and would not pursue legal action against, West Jordan Republican Rep. Ken Ivory.
The investigation stemmed from Ivory's work as president of the American Lands Council (ALC), a nonprofit organization pushing for state control of Western public lands.
In June, the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Accountability filed complaints against ALC in Utah, Montana and Arizona, alleging that Ivory uses false arguments to persuade local governments to hand over taxpayer dollars to his organization.
"He is soliciting on the promise that if you give us money, we can get public land returned to your state," Campaign for Accountability's executive director, Anne Weismann, said in June. "More than half of the money they raise goes to him and his wife."
The allegations were reviewed by prosecutors with the Utah attorney general's office, who determined the complaints did not meet a reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial.
"A select panel of experienced Justice Division prosecutors independently assessed the investigators' case, including investigative reports, documents and witness interviews," states a news release from the office. "After each prosecutor on the panel had the opportunity to review the investigation, each agreed independently and collaboratively this case lacks a reasonable likelihood of conviction."
Montana's attorney general had previously dismissed the complaint filed in that state, and Ivory said the outcome of the Utah investigation was "completely expected."
He said federal bureaucrats are desperate to maintain their museum-like control of public lands and the attacks against the American Lands Council are a result of the group's successful lobbying efforts.
"You have desperate, shadowy, D.C. groups that are afraid that they're going to lose their stranglehold over the Western lands and they resort to these sorts of shady tactics," he said.
A complaint was also issued in Colorado, accusing ALC of violating the state's lobbying registration laws.
Last week, Colorado Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Steiert called for a hearing after finding "reasonable grounds" that ALC had violated the law.
ALC is required to respond to Steiert's notice by mid-November.
Ivory described the Colorado complaint as the work of a "desperate extremist group," and said ALC would provide Steiert with the information she requested.
"To the extent that the secretary of state needs additional information, we're happy to provide it," he said.