Report: Utah lawmakers co-sponsored bill benefiting their employer

SALT LAKE CITY — A review from the Center for Public Integrity and the Associated Press finds that Utah has one of the country’s highest numbers of lawmakers working for a single company — with four working for Zions Bank.

Legislators who work for Zions say the bank never tells them how to vote, even on a major bond bill this year that benefited the bank.

Utah, like many states around the country, has a citizen legislature in which most lawmakers hold another job outside of public office. While such outside employment gives lawmakers expertise in certain policy areas, many of those jobs are directly affected by the actions of the legislatures.

The Center for Public Integrity and the Associated Press found numerous examples of state lawmakers around the country who have introduced and supported legislation that directly and indirectly helped their own businesses, their employers or their personal finances. The practice is enabled by limited disclosure requirements for personal financial information and self-policing that often excuses seemingly blatant conflicts.

The review, based on an analysis of disclosure reports from 6,933 lawmakers in the 47 states that required them, found that at least 76 percent of state lawmakers holding office in 2015 worked other jobs.

In Utah, two Zions Bank employees — Sens. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, and Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, signed on this year as co-sponsors of legislation that allows borrowing up to $1 billion to pay for highway projects.

Zions Bank, the state’s contracted adviser for all bonds, is expected eventually to collect about $880,000 in fees from the sale, according to state Treasurer David Damschen.

Van Tassell and Anderegg both said the bond legislation made sense for Utah and that their employer has never told them how to vote.

Zions Bank said in a statement that any of its employees who serve as legislators “do …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

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