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Conflicts of Interest

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As conflicts of interest go among Utah legislators, the one involving republican representatives Aaron Tilton of Springville and Mike Noel of Kanab is among the most egregious that has come to the public's attention in recent memory.

Rep. Tilton's company, Transition Power Development, is directly involved in seeking water rights and licensing for a proposed nuclear power plant in Southern Utah. Rep. Noel works for the Kane County Water Conservancy District, which stands to reap millions once the plant comes on line.

The conflict is obvious - Rep. Noel chairs the legislative committee that is considering the matter, and Rep. Tilton sits on the committee. And can you believe that at the committee's last meeting, Rep. Tilton literally moved from his committee seat to the witness chair to shamelessly and with a straight face testify before that very committee on his firm's proposal!

Sadly, their flagrant and very public conflict of interest is symptomatic of broader ethics issues among the 104 part-time lawmakers. In far too many instances, legislators' day jobs come into direct conflict with the work they are doing on Capitol Hill.

In KSL's view, the Tilton-Noel mess validates the need for much clearer and enforceable conflict of interest rules among lawmakers. The taxpayers of Utah should no longer be hoodwinked by such questionable dealings.

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