It seems snake oil salesman Ken Ivory and his band o’ merry men known as American Lands Council are digging up dirt and sowing discord there.
Back in June the Salt Lake Tribune had an article on Ken Ivory, calling him a snake oil salesman.
It was called Utah ‘snake oil salesman’ Rep. Ken Ivory accused of fraud for hitting up counties in three states for public lands fight donations and I encourage you to give it a look.
The article states clearly that:
“a watchdog group alleges Ivory, a West Jordan Republican, uses phony facts and arguments to scam local governments into giving taxpayer dollars to American Lands Council (ALC), the nonprofit he started in 2012 to champion the transfer of Western public lands to states.
The complaints focus on Ivory’s practice of travelling the West, promoting land transfers to county commissioners and conservative groups and signing them up as dues-paying members of ALC.”
The Missoula Independent reported that Ivory paid himself $40,000 in 2012 and $95,000 in 2013 out of the non-profit tax-deductible donations he receives for the organization.
Yes, Ken Ivory is profiting handsomely off rural counties and their gullible county commissioners.
What’s convenient for Ivory is that most of these county commissioners are Republicans, the kind that lean toward Tea Party ideology.
They like the sound of less federal intrusion into their counties – where the federal national forests are located – and take up Ivory’s call for state ownership.
That’s just what Ivory’s counting on.
In 2012 he drafted and guided through the Utah Legislature a bill that would force the federal government to turn over its lands to the state.
It was called the Transfer of Public Lands Act and was signed into law that year by Utah Governor Gary Herbert.
“Critics say the law really aims to throw open Utah’s landscapes to extractive uses and motorized access,” the Salt Lake Tribune asserts, telling us that.
This will get rid of “the hassles of federal land-use planning and safeguards for endangered species, water quality, archaeological sites and other natural values.”
Arizona was also targeted in 2015 by American Lands Council.
Here in Montana the shady organization got its hooks into Thompson Falls Senator Jennifer Fielder.
She bought their spiel hook, line and sinker and drafted legislation for the goons. Thankfully, the media reported on how she hired an American Lands Council lobbyist named William Macon Richardson to help push the bill.
When that was revealed “the aide left his legislative post and Fielder’s bills ultimately failed,” the article tells us.
Arizona wasn’t so lucky – their bill passed the legislature. Without a sensible governor – Doug Ducey (R), who vetoed the bill – it’s likely that state would be having the same problems Utah is.
And what are Utah’s American Lands Council-induced problems?
The feds never transferred the lands and now the state is spending “$2 million to advance the fight in the halls of Congress.”
“Some of these municipalities are foregoing jails, whatever, to scrape together the money to give” Ken Ivory, Campaign for Accountability’s executive director said. “To me it screams of fraud.”
Right now in Washington State Ken Ivory is trying to convince the northwestern counties and their county commissioners to go along with his land-grab ideas.
In 2013, Ken Ivory’s tour of rural Montana counties included Lincoln, Sanders, Mineral, Ravalli, and further from the border, Flathead counties.
When you look at the map of this tri-state area, you have to wonder…is there some grand scheme to take this huge chunk of land and make it private?
Sadly, they may already be doing that.
American Lands Council has Joined with Anti-Indian Groups
The article told us that on September 26 Jennifer Fielder “promoted” American Lands Council’s “cause at a conference hosted by the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA) in Kalispell” at the Red Lion Hotel.
Some of this promotion by Fielder included distributing “Lands Council material” and telling those in attendance that “the solution to all this is to free our lands from the federal bureaucracy.”
Now, I’m a big fan of kicking D.C. bureaucrats in the balls and getting things moving faster, a lot faster. Selling our lands is not the way to do that, however.
What’s got IREHR all riled up is that American Lands Council has abandoned their “moderate public face” approach, one that called for “exempting certain lands from state takeover, including national parks, wilderness areas and Indian reservations.”
The article goes on to tell us that “the Wisconsin-based CERA is the most notorious organized anti-Indian group in the United States,” one that’s “dedicated to terminating tribal governments, abrogating treaties and turning management of tribal resources over to state government.”
We’ve seen our over-zealous Public Service Commission make similar calls here in Montana over the Kerr Dam transfer. We also know that groups like CERA are threatened by Montana Indians and the power they hold over their land.
We saw that firsthand in Flathead County in 1996 with the arguments over the Yellowstone Pipeline route.
Don’t think for one second that there aren’t other motives at play here, including the water deals going on in the Flathead.
IREHR does a good job bringing up 1981’s Montana v. United States that called for “Montana state leaders to aggressively push back against tribal water rights and jurisdiction.”
That ruling in turn came from 1978’s Oliphant v. Suquamish where future Justice William Rehnquist cherry-picked his cases to form a colonialist outlook on White-Indian relations.
Rehnquist would become the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1994.
That’s the tune American Lands Council and Ken Ivory pushes their message.
Folks, these are shady characters.
The come into states that aren’t their own – Ivory is from Utah – and try to convince legislators to pass laws that will transfer federal forest lands to the state.
Sounds like it might be good, but the problem is the states don’t have the money to manage these lands.
Oh, they might get by for a couple years but soon the costs will be too much and the money just won’t be there.
That’s when the vultures come in.
People like Ken Ivory and American Lands Council are really working for mega-rich individuals, the top 1% of this country.
Maybe if those lands are sold-off Ken and his merry band will get some of the scraps from the table, huh?
Unfortunately, places like Washington will lose their federal forests, the kind people like to hike and camp in.
I know this because Ken Ivory and American Lands Council came to Montana during the 2015 legislature and tried to get this done.
They were blocked from that happening.
A large reason for this was the educated citizenry that weren’t bamboozled by the men in shiny shoes and the slick message they tried to promote.
And when I say promote, I mean bombard you with 24/7 on the TV, radio, and wherever else you don’t want to be bothered.
It’s called propaganda, and I hope you don’t fall for it. We didn’t fall for it in Montana and those people are long gone.
I suspect they’ll be back in 2017, however, when the Montana Legislature is back in session.
You know how these snake oil salesmen are – pernicious, cunning, and always heckling you for a dime.
Tell them to get lost.
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I wrote a fun post last spring called 5 Ways to Get Rid of Jennifer Fielder that you might like.
In Montana the Missoula Independent had a story on this, one that pointed out Ivory’s profiteering.
To be fair, Montana Watch Dog had a post written by Dustin Hurst that decried liberal attacks against American Lands Council.