Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams on Thursday responded to claims made by his opponent that he is using Mountain Accord to engage in pay-to-play politics.
On Wednesday, Republican Salt Lake County mayoral candidate Dave Robinson alleged that McAdams was using Mountain Accord to award contracts to a consulting firm he was friendly with called Exoro, and that members of that firm in turn gave money to McAdam’s reelection campaign.
McAdams called those allegations absurd.
“Exoro actually doesn’t work with my campaign,” he says. “They’re not involved in any way in my campaign. I know the Principal of Exoro. I think they do great work, but I work with a lot of people.”
Campaign finance reports do show Dan Hartman, an Exoro principal, has donated nearly $5,000 to McAdams this year. But the first-term mayor has not received money from the firm itself and he says he was not on the selection team that awarded a Mountain Accord contract to Exoro.
Mountain Accord Director Laynee Jones confirmed that.
“Mayor McAdams did not participate on that selection team for that contract,” she said, noting that the selection team was made up of herself and representatives from various cities, UTA and the State of Utah.
On Wednesday, Dave Robinson also alleged that Mountain Accord has not been following rules regarding open public meetings, saying that some canyon landowners felt like they had been shut out of discussions. Mountain Accord and Salt Lake County leaders have said that as an informal group, Mountain Accord is not subject to open meetings rules. McAdams maintains that the group has been very open and transparent.
“Every Mountain Accord meeting has been open and the public has been invited,” he says. “We’ve never turned anyone away from a single one of our meetings. Dave Robinson has attended many of the Mountain Accord meetings.”
Laynee Jones acknowledged concerns from landowners, saying she thinks they could be represented better in the group.
“We’ve had many, many meetings with individual land owners that have had concerns and the door is always open to address those,” Jones says.
A group connected to Robinson is suing Mountain Accord over public meetings. McAdams calls it a frivolous lawsuit filed by people who want to develop land in watershed areas.