Envirocare Hires Influential Republicans as Lobbyists

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Envirocare has hired state GOP Chairman Joe Cannon and two other influential Republicans as lobbyists.

The others are GOP Max Farbman and Greg Hopkins -- both directors of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s political action committee.

Cannon said he registered as a Utah lobbyist for Envirocare in the past week just to be safe.

The company said the three lobbyists focus on the national arena, drumming up new business and building relationships with national figures concerned about radioactive cleanup and disposal.

"What we've asked them to do is help us with ways to expand our business operation on a national level," said Envirocare Vice President Tim Barney.

Barney downplayed the idea that the new lobbyists might be assisting the company's large lobbying team at the state Capitol or with Envirocare's efforts to win approval to double its size.

Envirocare has been pushing to expand to nearly double its current size of nearly one square mile.

The expansion has the approval of the state Division of Radiation Control and it needs the approval of the governor and the Legislature.

The expansion is opposed by the environmental group Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah.

Hopkins, a former director of the Utah GOP and a key fundraiser for the governor, said his work is not related to any particular legislation before Congress, and, "We're not doing anything related to their expansion to their facility in Utah."

A lobbyist disclosure report filed with the secretary of the U.S. Senate said Farbman and Hopkins are "assisting (the) company in gaining support for expanded operations."

Barney and Hopkins said that is unrelated to the pending Utah expansion.

"That's kind of an inopportune choice of words because we've explicitly asked them not to help them with our expansion in Utah," Barney said, adding that the specific terms of their work is confidential. "We're a company that operates in a competitive environment and it's important for us to do that."

Cannon said Tuesday that he has helped arrange meetings with members of Congress and their staffs, but he primarily deals with issues before federal regulators.

Vanessa Pierce, program director for HEAL, said Envirocare is purposely bringing on board people with close ties to the governor as it pushes for his favorable vote on the expansion.

She noted that the governor's brother-in-law, Rick Durham, is a partner in one of the investment groups that bought Envirocare earlier this year. Durham used to be chief financial officer of the Huntsman Corp. and is a trustee of the Jon and Karen Huntsman Foundation.

"With all the folks Envirocare has hired, the only way they could get closer to the governor is if they hired (first lady) Mary Kaye (Huntsman)," Pierce said.

Mike Mower, Huntsman's deputy chief of staff, said the governor would "certainly re-evaluate our relationship" if Farbman and Hopkins were registered as state lobbyists.

Hopkins is currently listed as inactive on the state's lobbyist registration site. Farbman's only listed lobby client is the Western Governors University.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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