This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The $640,000 the Utah Legislature gave to the Davillier Law Group to determine the feasibility of suing the federal government for the transfer of 31 million acres of public land to state control includes $82,000 for public relations.
About half that $82,000 has gone to Logan-based Strata, a company founded by Randy Simmons, a Koch brothers plant at Utah State University who was the Charles G. Koch professor of political economy at the school from 2008 to 2013.
Simmons also is a senior fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center, which is funded by the Kochs and Exxon Mobil. And he supervises a Koch-funded USU scholarship program.
The Koch Foundation gave USU nearly $700,000 to establish a program for undergraduates to enroll and learn about Charles Koch's "science of liberty" management theory, which of course favors philosophies and policies beneficial to Koch interests, which include fossil-fuels industries.
So you can imagine the direction of the taxpayer-funded PR push to sell the idea of suing the feds for the public land transfer.
The other PR and/or lobbying companies involved in the contract are Y2 Analytics ($33,650), Foxley & Pignanelli ($2,612) and Nuffer, Smith, Tucker ($5,000).
These figures were revealed in the latest invoice of Davillier, chosen by the Legislature's Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands to do the feasibility study.
The two Democrats on the panel Sen. Jim Dabakis and Rep. Joel Briscoe, both of Salt Lake City have filed a complaint with the Utah State Bar because they have not been allowed to see the details of Davillier's study concluding a lawsuit would be feasible.
Maybe the PR firms will convince them it's OK.
The Law-and-Order Party • The Salt Lake County Republican Party is urging all good Republicans to commit felony tax evasion, apparently, even though it probably didn't mean to do that.
A resolution passed recently by the county GOP's Central Committee and now posted on the party's website rejects the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), alleging it "gives the federal government even more sweeping power over state education." It resolves that Utah is not beholden to federal education mandates and that the Legislature and state school board should nullify all federal education edicts.
It then says "Utah should withhold money that would be sent to the federal government in an amount equal to the sum they return to us each year for education and use those funds for K-12 education in this state."
One problem: Utah doesn't send money to the federal government, other than a little in the Medicaid program. So for Utah to withhold money from the feds, it would be the federal taxes individual Utahns pay.
So stop paying your federal taxes, Utahns, and see what happens.
The Salt Lake County GOP has your back.
Big-tent theory • At the Salt Lake County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner last month, the invitations included a special thanks to the GOP's elected officials in the county.
But the invitation misspelled the name of Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, and omitted House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper; Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy; and Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights.
It included, however, Democratic Reps. Angela Romero and Rebecca Chavez-Houck, both of Salt Lake City.
Perhaps there was a toast during the dinner to honor JFK.
The untouchables • A number of Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control employees were notified late last week that they have been terminated because background checks found they have had criminal convictions.
Many have worked for the DABC for more than a year and the criminal convictions are several years old. But state code says DABC employees cannot have felonies or DUIs on their record and work for the department.
That statute applies only to DABC employees.
The ousted workers were notified after a recent review by the Utah Department of Human Resources found department employees have criminal records that were missed in previous background checks.
Department spokeswoman Vickie Ashby says the employees can challenge the background checks or seek to get expungements, although the ones notified were told they were already fired.