The American Lands Council Is The Leading Nonprofit Advocating For The Federal Government To Divest Public Lands

The American Lands Council Is A Nonprofit Founded By A Utah Legislator To Use “Political Persuasion” And Legislation To Eliminate Federal Public Land

The American Lands Council Was Created By Ken Ivory, A Utah Legislator, To Use “Political Persuasion, Legislation, and Litigation” To Eliminate Federal Public Lands. “Ivory created the American Lands Council, a tax-exempt nonprofit, in 2012, along with Elko, Nev., County Commissioner Demar Dahl at a brief meeting at Salt Lake City International Airport. According to its mission statement, the group ‘channels the cooperative efforts of state and local governments, businesses, organizations, and individuals to secure and defend local control of land access, land use, and land ownership through: I. Education; II. Political Persuasion; III. Legislation (Local, State and National); IV. Litigation.’” [The Salt Lake Tribune, 05/19/14]

The American Lands Council Is A Leading Voice Advocating For Wholesale Transfer Of Federal Land. “Since 2012, the American Lands Council has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to advocate and lobby for the transfer of federal lands to states. Such a move could dramatically change how these lands are managed, affecting anybody who makes a living in, lives near, recreates in, or simply loves the notion of public lands in the West. But who finances the demands? The Utah-based American Lands Council, or ALC, is mostly funded by memberships, the majority of which are county commissions—that is, taxpayer-funded dues.” [High Country News, 05/15/15]

The American Lands Council’s Goal Is “To Get The Federal Government To Relinquish Hundreds Of Millions Of Acres Of Public Land To States.” “It’s a big idea – trying to get the federal government to relinquish hundreds of millions of acres of public land to states. And for Utah Rep. Ken Ivory, it’s become an all-consuming crusade. It dominates his work as a part-time legislator and has taken over his private life, too. It’s how he makes his living.[…] Opponents question the ethics of a lawmaker becoming a one-issue advocate whose livelihood is squarely hitched to his cause. Even some conservatives are grumbling behind the scenes, saying the nonprofit organization he has created thrives on fueling controversy to marshal support and raise money – a criticism they usually aim at environmental groups. Ivory, an attorney, has mostly boarded-up his legal practice and has traveled the country, speaking to county commissions, school boards, tea-party groups, television hosts, state legislators and members of Congress advocating for his goal.” [The Salt Lake Tribune, 05/19/14]

The American Lands Council Is Working On Federal Legislation To Transfer Federal Public Land To States 

American Lands Council CEO Jennifer Fielder, In An Op-Ed, Said The Group Is Working “Hard” On Federal Legislation To Transfer Federal Public Land To States. “The American Lands Council is a nationwide network of elected officials, public land users, and other citizens genuinely working to achieve greater accessibility, healthier conditions, and sustainable economic solutions for our public lands. We have worked hard to ensure that our proposed Transfer of Public Lands Act (a federal bill) addresses all the concerns we’ve heard and provides a clear path forward for success. If passed, here is how the Transfer of Public Lands Act would work” [Helena Independent Record, 01/18/19

Jennifer Fielder Refuses To Say Which Federal Lawmakers She Is Working With To Create The Legislation. “Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R) ticks through her well-worn list of incentives for lands management — citing clean air and water, as well as access for recreation and sportsmen — she sounds like many other advocates for public lands. But there’s one key difference: Fielder wants Congress to turn over control of vast swaths of federal acreage to their respective states. […] Now Fielder said she is working with congressional lawmakers to introduce lands transfer legislation on Capitol Hill. She told E&E News she’s not ready to identify them publicly. ‘We’ve had some discussion with several members of Congress,’ Fielder told E&E News, noting that her organization doesn’t have a full-time lobbyist. ‘We’re hoping we can get some more education done and get some bipartisan support.’” [E&E, 07/15/19]

The American Lands Council Is Funded By Taxpayer Money, Industry Contributions, And The Koch Brothers

The American Lands Council Receives Most Of Its Money By Persuading Local Governments To Buy “Memberships” That Cost As Much As $25,000 Per Year

The American Lands Council Gets Most Of Its Funding From Taxpayers Through County Commission “Memberships.” “The Utah-based American Lands Council, or ALC, is mostly funded by memberships, the majority of which are county commissions—that is, taxpayer-funded dues. In 2013, the last year for which records are available, the non-profit raised around $200,000 in contributions. About $157,000 of that came from memberships; $134,000 of that came from the coffers of counties. (Much of the rest comes from contributions from individuals and corporations, including Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing think tank supported by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.)” [High Country News, 05/15/15]

The American Lands Council Bills Counties As Much As $25,000 Per Year For “Membership.” “Ivory has now signed up five dozen corporate, government and individual members, with memberships ranging from a few hundred dollars to Gold Level status costing $25,000 each. Four members, including commissions from two Utah counties — Kane and Washington — bought in at the $25,000 level, with more than 50 more joining at lower tiers.” [The Salt Lake Tribune, 05/19/14]

The American Lands Council Is Funded By The Koch Brothers. One Member Says The Kochs “Could Contribute Millions To The Effort” 

The American Lands Council Is Backed By Koch-Funding. “The usual suspects are backing Ivory. He sits on the federalism committee of the American Legislative Exchange Council. His nonprofit, the American Lands Council (ALC), is largely funded by local and county governments eager to gain control of land in their communities. It has also taken funding from utility companies and Americans for Prosperity, the dark-money group founded by the Koch brothers.” [Mother Jones, 01/01/16]

  • One American Lands Council Member Told County Commissioners In Arizona That The Koch Brothers “Could Contribute Millions To The Effort.” “An Idaho county commissioner gave an update last week to the Mohave County supervisors on his efforts to transfer federal public lands to local governments. Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik described the federal government and various environmental groups as rattlesnakes that will bite the hand that picks it up. He said he wants counties throughout the West to join together. Chmelik also compared federal lands to a baseball stadium and said the states need to build their own stadium. He also said that the Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, are interested in his efforts, and could contribute millions to the effort.” [Mohave Valley Daily News, 06/21/15]
  • “Americans for Prosperity, a powerful dark-money group founded by the billionaires Charles and David Koch, is also a member of the group.” [The Durango Herald, 11/29/14]
  • Koch Industries owns Georgia-Pacific LLC, which has large lumber interests. [Fortune, 08/08/19]

The American Lands Council Also Receives Funding From The Mining And Oil Industries

The American Lands Council Gets Funding From Mining And Oil And Gas Interests. “A prevailing thought among land transfer opponents holds that the significant financial burden on states managing such large parcels of land would result in their sale to private entities and a loss of public access. Membership in Ivory’s American Lands Council – including mining construction companies, power companies and oil and gas interests that stand to benefit from such a sale – lends support to the theory.” [Denver Post, 02/24/15]

Mesa Exploration, A Mining Company, Funds The American Lands Council. “In addition to using taxpayer funds to advance unconstitutional bills to seize federal lands, the ALC also relies on financial support from the mining industry and fossil fuel interest groups. Americans for Prosperity, for example — another group financed by the Koch brothers — is listed as a ‘Bronze Member’ of ALC. Mesa Exploration, a mining company whose recent proposal to build a potash mine in an area that the Donner Party crossed in 1846 was recently nixed by federal land managers, is also listed as a ‘Bronze Member’ on ALC’s website.” [ThinkProgress, 06/18/14]

The American Lands Council Is Led By Elected Officials Who Blur The Line Between Lobbyist And Legislator

The American Lands Council’s Founder Was Criticized For Using His Elected Office To Advocate For His Nonprofit 

As A Legislator, American Lands Council’s Founder Ken Ivory Was “Principally Focused On Leveraging His Ability To Put Utah At The Forefront Of The Public Lands Battle Into A Source Of Funding For His Nonprofit, The American Lands Council, Which Is Now His Principal Means Of Personal Financial Support.” “Furthermore, I think people are right to be concerned about the fact that Ivory seems to have, for all intents and purposes, become a single issue legislator principally focused on leveraging his ability to put Utah at the forefront of the public lands battle into a source of funding for his nonprofit, the American Lands Council, which is now his principal means of personal financial support. The American Lands Council is a 501(c)(4) tax exempt nonprofit funded principally through donations by political subdivisions and interest groups, who pay membership dues at varying levels, for the purpose of carrying on the public lands fight. It’s principal expenses appear to be Ivory’s salary (and the salary of a couple other employees, including, apparently, his wife) and travel expenses. All this is distasteful.” [Utah Political Hub, 06/03/15]

Ken Ivory appears to be “blurring the line between legislator and lobbyist.” [Missoula Independent, 04/09/15]

After Writing A Law Demanding The Federal Government Cede Public Lands, Ken Ivory Traveled The Country Urging Other States To Do The Same. “The push for Utah to take control of millions of acres of federal public lands in the state has become a full-time campaign for one state lawmaker. Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, sponsored legislation in 2012 demanding that the federal government transfer control of much of Utah’s public lands to the state by next year. In the two years since Gov. Gary Herbert signed that legislation, Ivory has traveled the country, rallying lawmakers, community groups and others to call for similar actions. He now spends about three weeks a month giving speeches and presentations in other states. An attorney, Ivory has mostly closed his estate planning practice and now earns his primary income as president of a nonprofit group that advocates for greater state control of public lands.” [Associated Press, 05/19/14]

The American Lands Council’s CEO Is Jennifer Fielder. In Addition To Leading The Nonprofit, Fielder Advocates For Its Goals In The Montana Legislature As An Elected Senator

Jennifer Fielder became CEO of the American Lands Council in January 2016. It was reported that Fielder was not being paid for the position. [Missoula Independent, 02/11/16]

Jennifer Fielder Leads The American Lands Council As A Volunteer. Jennifer Fielder said she was “asked by the American Lands Council to be its CEO as an unpaid volunteer, a position she accepted.” [Helena Independent Record, 03/24/16]

Jennifer Fielder Supports The American Lands Council’s Agenda In The Montana Legislature 

  • Jennifer Fielder, in 2014, introduced a resolution at the Montana Republican Convention in support of “turning over federally managed public lands to the states.” [Montana Standard, 06/22/14]
  • Jennifer “Fielder first became involved with the organization while sponsoring a collection of lands transfer bills in 2013.” [Missoula Independent, 02/11/16]
  • “Jennifer Fielder traveled with Ken Ivory to recruit counties for ALC membership in Montana. Fielder traveled with Ivory “to present his ideas before county commissions and town-hall meetings.” “Ivory and Fielder delivered speeches to commissioners in both Mineral and Lincoln counties.” In Lincoln County, Ivory talked ‘about dues paid by other counties for membership in the ALC, explaining most donate $5,000.’” [Missoula Independent, 04/09/15]

The American Lands Council Has A History Of Ethics Problems

The American Lands Council Has Been The Subject Of Several Ethics Complaints Alleging That The Group “Scam(s) Local Governments” To Fund Its Staff’s Salaries 

A Nonpartisan Watch Dog Group Filed Formal Complaints Alleging That The American Lands Council Used “Phony Facts” To “Scam Local Governments Into Giving Taxpayer Dollars.” “In formal complaints filed Monday in three states, 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 traveling the West, promoting land transfers to county commissioners and conservative groups and signing them up as dues-paying members of ALC.” [The Salt Lake Tribune, 06/02/15]

  • The Group Filed Formal Complaints In Utah, Montana, and Arizona. “Weismann submitted similar complaints to Utah, Montana and Arizona, asking their state attorneys general to investigate ALC’s fundraising. She contends, as have numerous other critics, that all reliable legal and economic analyses of transferring public land to the states concluded the idea has no legal foundation and could prove costly to the receiving states.” [The Salt Lake Tribune, 06/02/15]
  • The Group Said The American Lands Council Took Money From Counties To Enrich American Lands Council Staff. “’It’s not simply a question of Rep. Ivory speaking his mind about what he thinks should happen. He is soliciting on the promise that if you give us money, we can get public land returned to your state,’ said attorney Anne Weismann, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Accountability. “More than half of the money they raise goes to him and his wife [Becky].’” [The Salt Lake Tribune, 06/02/15]
  • Colorado’s Secretary Of State Found “‘Reasonable Grounds To Believe’” That The American Lands Council Violated Lobbying Disclosure Rules. Ivory, who recently stepped down as ALC president, has come under repeated attack from out-of-state government watchdog groups alleging he skirts various laws to garner support for his cause and thwart amicable resolution of conflicts between federal agencies and local governments. Formal complaints have been filed in four states, but nothing has stuck so far, though the Colorado secretary of state found ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ ALC violated that state’s lobbyist-disclosure rules. Ivory did not respond to an email request for comment.” [The Salt Lake Tribune, 03/15/16]

A Nonprofit Watchdog Found That Ivory Used His Elected Office To Promote The American Lands Council. “Newly released documents show that state Rep. Ken Ivory, the Western lawmaker most identified with the land-transfer movement, often used his legislative email account to conduct business on behalf of the nonprofit he ran and later concealed that activity from investigators. These allegations are leveled in a complaint the Campaign for Accountability, or CfA, intends to file Wednesday with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, asking him to reopen a probe into allegations that Ivory scammed county commissioners into ponying up taxpayer money to join the American Lands Council. CfA contends emails it obtained through a records request prove Ivory exploited his position as a state lawmaker to raise money and support for the council’s controversial agenda.” [The Salt Lake Tribune, 03/15/16]

  • Ken Ivory Used His Official Legislative Email And Letterhead To Promote The American Lands Council. “CfA’s new complaint focuses on Ivory’s denying to investigators that he used Utah state letterhead or email systems in connection with his ALC activities. Weismann’s group obtained Ivory’s legislative email traffic and found plenty of instances to the contrary. For example, in November 2013, Ivory sent a message through the state email system to Natrona County Commission Chairman Forrest Chadwick in an effort to recruit the Wyoming county to ALC. In 2012, Ivory forwarded a videographer’s invoice to his legislative assistant with instructions to pay the bill using ALC funds. Ivory also that year arranged to host an ALC meeting in a Capitol room, according to CfA.” [The Salt Lake Tribune, 03/15/16]
  • Ken Ivory Advanced His Nonprofit’s Policies In His Official Capacity As A Legislator. “Ivory, a lawyer, sponsored the 2012 Utah Public Lands Transfer Act, which calls on the federal government to cede title to 31 million acres of public land to the state. That year he also helped found ALC, whose board consists of rural county commissioners. In that role, he has gone on the road to pitch the land-transfer cause around the West, arguing the federal government reneged on a promise to “return” land to the states and has made a mess of managing natural resource.” [The Salt Lake Tribune, 03/15/16]

The American Lands Council Has Extremist Ties And Shares The Goals Of The Bundy Family

The American Lands Council Supports The Bundy Family’s Armed Uprisings Were “A Very Positive Thing” For The Land Transfer Movement

Ken Ivory Of The American Lands Council Said The Bundy Occupation Of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Is “A Very Positive Thing.” “‘You’ve got bureaucrats thousands of miles away that put policy over people. They put politics over the health and welfare of the land,’ Mr. Ivory said…in an interview with The Washington Times. ‘To the extent that we’re having a national dialogue on that, it’s a very positive thing. But the solution is education, legislation, litigation.’” [The Washington Times, 01/11/16]

  • The Bundy Family Has Led Two Armed Uprisings– One, An Occupation Of The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge In Oregon, Was Done To Call For “The Federal Government To Give Up Its Unconstitutional Presence” In The County. “Calling itself the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, a small group of anti-government protesters has occupied parts of a wildlife sanctuary in Harney County, Ore., this week. Members of the group are fighting against what they see as draconian control over land in the West and are calling for ‘the federal government to give up its unconstitutional presence in this county,’ said Ammon Bundy, one of the group’s leaders, at a news conference on Monday. […] On Saturday, an armed group hostile toward the federal government left a protest in Burns and took control of an empty building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The building is a stone cottage that houses the offices of the 187,000-acre refuge, which is operated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.” [New York Times, 01/06/16]
  • The American Lands Council Shares The Bundys’ Antigovernment Goal. “Ken Ivory, a Republican state representative from Utah, has been roaming the West with an alluring pitch to cattle ranchers, farmers and conservatives upset with how Washington controls the wide-open public spaces out here: This land is your land, he says, and not the federal government’s. […] Mr. Ivory, who founded the American Lands Council and until recently was its president. The Utah-based group is funded mostly by donations from county governments, but has received support from Americans for Prosperity, the group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers. The idea, which would radically reshape the West, is one that resonates with the armed group of ranchers and anti-government activists who seized control of a wildlife refuge in Oregon more than a week ago. Ammon Bundy, the crew’s leader and the scion of a Nevada ranching family steeped in disputes with the federal government, said he and his sympathizers had gone to Oregon to give the refuge back to local ranchers.” [New York Times, 01/10/16]

Jennifer Fielder Praised Cliven Bundy For Bringing “A Lot Of Attention To The Issue” Of Eliminating Federal Public Land, But Says She And The ALC Differ From Bundy Because “We’re Going About This In A Way That’s Lawful.” Jennifer Fielder, at an American Lands Council presentation in 2014, said, “These are a couple hashtags you can use if you’re on any of the social media. One of them, ‘Bigger Than Bundy,’ we put in because about the time we were meeting in the Utah capitol in April, that’s when the Bundy thing was going on. And so the media started immediately tying us to Bundy. No, we’re elected officials. We’re going about this in a way that’s lawful. We’re educating ourselves, we’re asking Congress to act, we’re not out there doing what Bundy was doing. Right or wrong, Bundy brought a lot of attention to the issue. Bundy is just a symptom of the conflict that we’re experiencing all across the West. It’s not the only one- he’s just the one that got a lot of media attention and got a lot of citizens to come out and stand with that man.” [YouTube, accessed 11/12/19] (1:02:30) 

The American Lands Council Hosted An Extremist Who Advocated For County Sheriff Supremacy And Says The Federal Regulatory Process Is “Socialism” 

The American Lands Council Featured Wyoming Attorney Harriet Hageman At Its 2016 Annual Conference. Her presentation was titled, “Regulation Without Representation.” [Harriet Hageman, accessed 11/12/19]

Harriet Hageman Says The Authority Of County Sheriffs Should Supersede The Federal Government. In remarks to the American Lands Council, Harriet Hageman said, “the most powerful man or woman in any county ought to be the county sheriff. Not the head of the BLM.” [YouTube, 10/28/16] (21:50)

Harriet Hageman Says Federal Some Federal Agencies Are Unnecessary Because “We Are Sovereign.” In remarks to the American Lands Council, Harriet Hageman said, “Why do we need all these federal agencies? We are sovereign.” [YouTube, 10/28/16] (20:20)

  • Hageman’s Remarks Echo The Views Of The Radical Constitutional Sheriff Movement. “It’s a movement that doesn’t just reject gun control — it encourages law enforcement officers to defy laws they decide are illegal. And it sometimes puts police on the same side as ‘sovereign citizens,’ a fringe group that the FBI considers one of the most serious domestic terrorism threats.” [NBC News, 04/18/16]

Harriet Hageman Says The Existence Of The Federal Regulatory Process Constitutes “Socialism.” When discussing the federal regulatory status quo in a presentation to the American Lands Council, Harriet Hageman said, “If we do not change this model and this construct, we are a socialist country. We are moving to the point where the federal government is dictating pretty much every aspect of our lives.” [YouTube, 10/28/16] (44:30)

Jennifer Fielder Promoted The American Lands Council To An Anti-Indian Extremist Group 

Jennifer Fielder Promoted The American Lands Council Before “‘The Most Notorious Anti-Indian Group In The Country.’” “A group that says it does not tolerate racism, but has been labeled ‘the most notorious anti-Indian group in the country’ by the co-director of the Montana Human Rights Network, will hold a ‘regional education conference’ here this weekend. […] Also on the docket: Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls, who will talk about her efforts to transfer federal lands to the state, and Debbie Bacigalupi of Siskiyou County, California. Bacigalupi’s talk is titled “Integrating Federal Indian Policy with Agenda 21, Agenda 2030 and United Nations.” [The Missoulian, 09/23/15]

Jennifer Fielder’s Hosts At The Event Believe That Tribal Governments Should Be Terminated. “Fielder’s scheduled appearance provides an example of the support CERA has garnered from a handful of far-right state and local elected officials. This is not the first time Senator Fielder has lent her name to anti-tribal causes. As the Montana Human Rights Network (MHRN) documented, during the 2013 legislative session, Fielder spoke against the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ water compact on behalf of the Sanders Natural Resource Council. […] Attempting to deny the group’s racism documented in a report by MHRN and the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR), Willman told the paper, ‘My own opinion is that tribal governments have outlived their usefulness…All citizens should be treated equally.’ This echoes the tired language used to promote CERA’s goals of terminating Indian tribes and abrogating treaties (see Revolutionary War for Citizens of Montana). These goals are the essence of organized anti-Indianism in the United States.” [IHRER, 09/24/15]