Investigation: Utah auditor ignored concerns of corruption by group tasked with Bears Ears lawsuit
WASHINGTON, DC – Utah State Auditor John Dougall appears never to have investigated the Foundation for Integrated Resource Management (FIRM) over apparently pocking $400,000 in tax dollars – money it received for work that FIRM never did.
An investigation by non-partisan watchdog Accountable.US showed Dougall is not only close to FIRM’s founder Stan Summers, as shown in social media posts, but shares the Utah think tank’s extreme views about public land management. FIRM was originally contracted by the state to file a lawsuit against protections for lands held sacred by indigenous groups near Bears Ears, Utah.
“It’s not hard to imagine why FIRM was able to pocket this money without ever doing the work they said they would do,” said Jordan Schreiber, Director of the Energy and Environment Program at Accountable.US. “Mr. Dougall and Mr. Summers should come clean about this dirty deal and explain why the money was never returned to Utah taxpayers.”
Documents obtained by Accountable.US through an open records request additionally show the auditor’s own team even recommended that the group return the appropriation to the state.