The benignly-named “Campaign for Accountability” has made a few waves this week for filing complaints against Representative Ken Ivory for “engaging in an illegal scheme to defraud local government officials out of taxpayer funds.”
Now that’s quite a lede.
It hinges, however, on this: the organization “alleges Rep. Ivory has solicited funds from local officials, falsely claiming the federal government can be forced to transfer public lands to the states.”
Clearly, Ivory’s organization is largely funded by taxpayers, with county governments paying large sums of money to support an effort their elected leaders wish to see succeed. This is not in dispute. So this issue really hinges only on the final part, namely, Ivory’s purportedly “false claims” that his effort to transfer public lands to state control is realistically possible.
For their support, the complainants cite “near universal consensus” which is really a few attorneys employed by the state government, in the Utah Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, who contend that Ivory’s hallmark legislation has “a high probability of being declared unconstitutional.”
Why did I yawn? Because anybody familiar with the Utah legislature knows that these constitutional commentaries on legislation are dished out like Diet Coke in a Utah County restaurant. One lawyer’s opinion claiming that a court may consider a bill unconstitutional does not mean it is—it merely means it’s one attorney’s opinion, and that there’s precedent in the federal courts justifying one expansion of congressional power after another. In short, it doesn’t mean much—and it’s certainly not authoritative or “universal” as the complaint contends.