In keeping with long-standing tradition, the Utah League of Cities and Towns (ULCT), one of the most powerful and formidable lobbying organizations on Utah’s Capitol Hill, loaded a bus with state legislators and transported them to the Salt Palace for entertainment and a meal.
The UCLT is so influential that the Utah House went to a Committee of the Whole and invited the League president to address them. She told the legislators how much the League enjoyed working with them and then formally invited all 75 House members to board a bus provided by the League and to join them for lunch at the Salt Palace.
The ULCT receives large sums of taxpayer funds through dues paid by member cities, by providing training to city officials, and from city officials who pay their conference registration fees with taxpayer funds.
Many city officials attending the day's events paid the $70 fee with funds collected from city taxpayers. They also paid the $55 fee for hundreds of youth council members with taxpayer money.
Lunch was sponsored by the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS ), a political subdivision of the State of Utah which was established in 1980 under the Utah Interlocal Cooperation Act.
UAMP funding for political activities and lobbying comes from a small portion of overall power sales to municipal power companies. The municipal power companies then pass this cost on to their customers so indirectly municipal power customers are also paying to feed legislators.
This raises the questions of whether it is appropriate for ULCT to use taxpayer funds to feed and entertain legislators and whether it was appropriate for city officials to use taxpayer funds to pay for their participation in this event?
Also, is it appropriate for large numbers of state legislators to leave Capitol Hill during the business day in order to make themselves a captive audience for a publicly funded lobbying campaign?