Attorney General Reyes
Attorney General Reyes,
As a resident of Alpine, UT in Utah County, I would like to make you aware of a serious conflict of interest and impropriety by 2 Utah county commissioners.
Tomorrow night in UT county (Provo) there is a meeting by the County to review an “appeal” by Snowbird to grant expansion of their resort into Utah county. Such requests are perfectly legal; however, 2 county commissioners received extravagant gifts from Snowboard in 2013 on an all-expense trip to Switzerland with their wives. I fear there is not a fair environment to decide on the meeting tomorrow night due to the unethical behavior of these elected officials.
I have been a loyal Snowbird advocate for over 20 years, spending thousands of dollars on yearly season passes and, spending thousands of dollars on meals, gifts and merchandise at the resort since 1992. I have been open to expanding skiing terrain, especially if done in an environmentally safe manor and in an ethical and transparent vetting process; however, the recent discoveries by Preserve and Protect AF Canyon make me question my loyalty to Snowbird and more importantly the improper behavior UT County elected officials who, with their wives, broke government policy by accepting a boondoggle trip to Switzerland where they were unfairly influenced by Snowbird. I find it ironic that Snowbird is now wishing to gain favor from the same county, whose commissioners they unfairly influenced by spending tens of thousands of dollars on in Switzerland.
My occupation is technology consulting and in my travels to 32 countries across 6 continents I have never seen such blatant intentions to sway favor as the trip to Switzerland for 2 UT county commissioners and their wives. It’s one thing to try and persuade a private enterprise with lavish entertainment and travel, but when such occurrences happen to our elected officials, like in the case with UT County–it is astonishing. I currently have many clients whom I support who have learjets. My company prohibits my riding in those jets to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest in doing business together. It’s a sad day when corporate America has stronger ethics than our public institutions have.
When the KUTV News story came out (December 2015) I was shocked to see the response from Commissioner Ellertson on how he didn’t know who paid for his trip. This is either blatant incompetence on his part OR a ruse to hide any knowledge of the impropriety of his taking this trip. In the Utah Code, chapter 16, it clearly lays out that Country officers disclose conflicts of interest and spelling out that “employees cannot receive gifts greater than $50.00”. In calculating the costs for the trip it is estimated at $15,000 per person ($30K for the couple together) to attend. If the trip was of personal interest and had nothing to do with the commissioners role as an elected official, then we need that clarified and we need to see his yearly January filing (under code 17-16a-6). If it did have something to do with his role as commissioner to understand transportation systems in Europe and development similarities, I would imagine it would have been official country business and should have been paid for by the county.
I would like to know why this wasn’t a county paid business trip? In reviewing county travel policies it’s clear to any competent individual that such a trip to Switzerland in a Learjet, with a bunch of couples, wouldn’t fit into the counties per diem payments, nor the frugal travel requirements for elected officials.
A call has been made for the commissioner to recuse himself from this issue, I feel that is not enough and the commissioner should immediately resign his post and issue an apology to the citizens of UT county for abusing his position as commissioner in accepting this lavish gift.
I would ask that you immediately investigate and force a “stay” upon the meeting tomorrow night to allow the state more time to review and look into this issue.
Our citizens and our mountains deserve a fair, open and honest evaluation of what’s best for the future.
Thank you for your support,
Name removed for privacy.
Utah County Board of Adjustments
- Doug Witney (Chair) – Resigned Jan 2016- Went on Private Jet with Snowbirds Owner Billionaire Ian Cumming email@example.com
- James A. Dain (Vice Chair) –
- Glen W. Roberts –
- Samuel M. Otterstrom –
- Kelly Ercanbrack –
- Gordon Duval
(Copy and paste these emails into your to: field in a new email)
Please direct emails to the Board of Adjustments to joshi
The email addresses below are personal email addresses. Utah County may create addresses in the near future for members of the Board of Adjustments. Thank you!
- firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com.
Utah County Commissioners
- Commissioner Bill Lee-Brian Voeks
- Commissioner Larry Ellertson- Michelle Araujo
- Commissioner Greg Graves-Lisa Nielson
(Copy and paste these emails into your to: field into the cc’ field )
Utah County Board of Adjustments sample email
As a member of the group Protect and Preserve American Fork Canyon I wanted to alert you to three major concerns regarding Snowbird’s efforts to commercialize American Fork Canyon.
1. Even though the cities of American Fork, Lehi, Cedar Hills, Alpine and the Utah County Commissioners passed resolutions to protect American Fork Canyon from being commercialized and to have public planning processes through the front door with citizen involvement, Snowbird is trying to take a back door route to commercializing American Fork Canyon by approaching the Board of Adjustments. http://www.utah.gov/pmn/sitemap/notice/306203.html
There is a very important meeting this coming Thursday Jan 7th @5:15pm at the Utah County Commission room 1400, Provo, Utah. Snowbird is trying to get ski towers permitted in AF Canyon via Board of Adjustments and expand operations, although publicly they have told the press numerous times they are not going to expand.
(Our group PPAFC has been asking for public and open processes. Snowbird does not want to participate in open public processes. The Mountain Accord planning in SL County was established to prevent Ski Resort sprawl and to protect public lands from being commercialized. )
2. We are very concerned since learning that Snowbird paid for elected officials to fly to Switzerland on private jets in 2013. These same elected officials are key decision makers for American Fork Canyon. One has been the chairman of the Utah County Commission, the other is the chairman of the Utah County Board of Adjustments. Both men should recuse themselves from anything to do with Snowbird or American Fork Canyon given the past circumstances and to avoid any perceived or real conflicts of interest. The passenger list includes Commissioner Ellertson and his wife, as well as Commissioner Doug Witney and his wife. Other elected officials on Mountain Accord who traveled to Switzerland with Billionaire Ian Cumming/Bob Bonar from Snowbird should also recuse themselves from the planning process since Snowbird is asking these same elected officials for allowance into AF Canyon. These conflicts need to be addressed perhaps by the County Attorney. Snowbird has done no favors to our elected officials by repeated giftings in excess of $50. Additionally, we’ve been unable to find financial disclosures or indications that Snowbird didn’t pay for 90% -100% of these costs for Utah County Elected officials. What few documents the elected officials have provided via GRAMA requests, show perhaps a 10% covering of actual costs for the trip, but it appears wives or traveling companions were mostly on a free vacation.
3. Snowbird is trying to block efforts of citizens to find out how much land they own up American Fork Canyon and all the shell names being used for such. http://americanforkcanyon.com/grama-request/1g-grama-request-snowbird-trying-to-hide-land-ownership-in-af-canyon/
We would appreciate you getting actively involved in helping us have a clean and honorable planning process. Given the nature of Snowbird’s gifting of trips and other perks to elected officials, (1) we would ask those elected officials voluntarily recuse themselves from any planning to do with American Fork Canyon and Snowbird.
Given the sensitive watershed and the excess thousand acres of land now owned by Snowbird-including some significant mine tailings-we would ask that before any decisions are made, (2) the ownership of lands are understood with the County producing a map of ownership, (3) the potential hazards of mine tailings are understood, (4) a cleanup plan is implemented by the landowner to protect downstream users and the watershed, (5) a EIS impact study is done (6) a carrying capacity study of the canyon is done (7) a cost/benefit study is done (8) a traffic study is done (9) a user-study is done and (10) that elected officials and city resolutions are reviewed and understood before any decisions granting additional access to Snowbird are even considered. A public process needs to be implemented, data needs to be understood, and potential impact needs to be understood, as there is a cost to the critical watershed as well as all users of AF Canyon that need full consideration.
I welcome a reply.