The Other Side of John Curtis

Provo Mayor John Curtis is running for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District. I hope he loses.

The guy has a long and sordid history of supporting corrupt politicians and greedy developers. He has appointed government officials who appear to have diverted welfare assistance earmarked for disabled kids. And the Provo City Police and Utility Departments were almost certainly involved in a scheme to harass a local whistleblower.

If you want to read more, you can find a short summary about the other side of John Curtis here:

Tom Westmoreland for Mayor — “Counterfeit Conservative” (Part 2)

Counterfeit Conservative Tom Westmoreland

Part 1 of “Tom Westmoreland — Counterfeit Conservative” can be found here:


Has anyone else noticed that Tom Westmoreland’s campaign signs for mayor violate the city’s codes on sign placement?

Today I went out with a 100’ tape measure and checked the distances between his signs and the center of the right-of-ways which they are next to. There are at least two signs that clearly violate the law.

What’s especially egregious about this code violation is that when he was first running for office we talked about the city’s crazy campaign sign regulations that basically suppress political speech in the city. In other cities, you see signs everywhere along the right-of-ways. In Eagle Mountain there are none. Signs can only be placed on private property, and guess who owns the best locations? Developers!

Westmoreland told me that when he got into office he would work to reform this section of the code, including getting rid of the provision that prohibits campaign signs in HOAs. He said this type of regulation has already been found unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.

But once he got into office, he did NOTHING. And now that he is running for mayor, he brazenly ignores the law.

His sign along Eagle Mountain Blvd. should be at least 125 feet from the center of the road. It’s not.


His sign along Pony Express Parkway should be at least 95 feet from the center of the road. It’s not either.


As the self-described “Constitutional Candidate”–who even has copies of the U.S. Constitution hanging on his walls at home–you’d think that he would have more respect for the rule of law.

Guess not.

I wonder if Mayor Pengra is going to order his code enforcement officer to fine Westmoreland for this code violation even though he personally endorsed him . . .  or whether he’ll treat him as if he is above the law since Westmoreland is now clearly part of the city’s ruling elite.


“Deep State Debbie” Hooge — Candidate for Mayor

Artist sketch of “Deep State Debbie”

After Mayor Pengra’s surprising May 30th announcement that he would not seek reelection, Debbie Hooge filed to run for mayor of Eagle Mountain City, again. Her candidacy was announced by her close friend and confidant, Wendy Lojik, the publisher of The Crossroads Journal.

In case you don’t know who Hooge is, here’s a little tidbit to help you out: she was the first mayor of Eagle Mountain who signed an infamous 20-year master development agreement (MDA) that basically gave the city’s most notorious developer free reign to do whatever he wanted in the City Center area. This resulted in many sub-standard developments that residents have complained about for years.

Now that Pengra is on his way out, it appears that Eagle Mountain’s Deep State–controlled by the city’s oldest and most established developers–wants to get her back into office. Maybe it’s because they want her to renew the first MDA she signed that expires in a few months . . . .

Developers and the Deep State

Eagle Mountain has always been a developer town. What this means is that the city’s powerful developers have always used their money and influence to try and install friendly candidates into office. Sometimes they’ve succeeded, other times they’ve failed, but recently, they’ve done quite well.

In the past, developers have gotten all kinds of perks from having their friends in office. They’ve enjoyed lax building code enforcement. They’ve been able to negotiate generous master development agreements that largely bypass the citizen-controlled zoning process. They’ve even been able to get the city to foot the bill for expensive projects like the $13+ million megapark (or megapork) that benefits them more than the city’s existing residents.

Our developers are clearly experts at using other people’s money to make themselves rich. But in order to keep these benefits rolling, they’ve had to become extremely adept at manipulating the political and electoral process in the city.

In 2009 Mayor Heather Jackson was about to lose the general election to Regan Bolli, a local attorney who campaigned as an outsider. In a last minute bid to save her campaign the city’s most unpopular developer reportedly donated $1000 to Bolli’s campaign, which he stupidly accepted, so Jackson could then go around town during the last few days of the campaign claiming that Bolli was in this developer’s pocket.

It worked! She was able to win the election by a few dozen votes. (Later on voters learned that Jackson had actually been a title officer for this developer and had very close ties to him.)

In 2013 I published a widely-read report that documented just a small portion of Jackson’s corruption and she became instantly unelectable, although she refused to acknowledge this. As a result, the Deep State starting working on finding a replacement for her because it wanted to protect its interests. That replacement appears to have been Chris Pengra.

Pengra started off as a tough-as-nails political reformer in the city, who even helped manage this reform-minded website, but once the Deep State recognized the true level of his personal ambition, they quickly turned him into one of their own.

But in order to guarantee his electoral success against the true reform candidate, Robert Schermerhorn, the powers-that-be had to pull out all the stops. It appears they did this through election fraud.

According to a poll watcher’s statement about the 2013 Primary Election, Finn Kofoed, the city recorder and chief election officer, took the last uncounted ballot box of the evening into her private office while the poll watcher was in the bathroom, and proceeded to count it with her departmental employees who were not official poll judges.

Miraculously, when she announced the results Pengra and Jackson both survived the primary and Schermerhorn lost. It appears that about 145 votes were stolen from him and another council candidate, which was enough to cost him the election and guarantee that one of establishment’s candidates would become mayor in the general.

EMC Election Fraud (2013 Primary)

Pengra’s Mysterious Withdrawal

Now to Pengra’s withdrawal. To fully understand how strange an event it is, first you’ve got to understand the magnitude of his ego.

By most accounts, Pengra is the most popular political figure in the city’s history. The city’s Facebook pages are full of his fanatical groupies and the city’s local rag, The Crossroads Journal, gives him nothing but fawning press. (It also protects him by refusing to publish a “Letters to the Editor” section which would contain criticism from the city’s residents.) He’s even been profiled in the LA Times!

So it doesn’t make any sense that Pengra would voluntarily give up his job as mayor to go back to his previous life as a lowly call center supervisor, if that’s what he’s going to do.

What’s even more strange is that he stated in his public announcement that he was originally called of God by the Holy Spirit to run for mayor but that he no longer had that endorsement. (Yes, he really did say that.)

It makes me wonder whether this part of his statement was a Freudian slip.

Think about it for a minute: If you’re an Eagle Mountain politician who worships power, the city’s developers might very well seem like Gods to you. And since Pengra almost surely had their support during his first run for office, maybe he didn’t get it the second time around. Did they ask him to step aside so they could replace him with another candidate who had a better chance of getting elected?

Why would the city’s developers think he couldn’t get reelected? Could it have something to do with his record?

Here are two reports I wrote that document just a portion of his misdeeds in office:

Pigs in Suits
Eagle Mountain’s Developer Utopia


About two months ago I started prepping for the upcoming election fight by compiling a long list of lesser known Pengra scandals that citizens ought to know about before they vote.

Link to draft:

When I emailed this draft to some of my political friends in the city, I also sent them a quick note explaining my intentions to create daily Facebook posts about these items on the city’s political pages for at least a full month before the election.

I was confident that the constant revelations and reminders about Pengra’s true record (with links to backup documentation, of course) would result in his electoral loss. Also, I was pretty sure that the silent majority would not want him back in office even though the press and his political groupies in social media would try to protect him.

A few weeks after I emailed this list to my friends, Pengra unexpectedly withdrew from the race.

This Westmoreland campaign sign appears to be on the back of Mayor Pengra’s fence in City Center.

I think it’s safe to say that the Deep State already knew that Pengra’s record was so bad that he might very well lose the race, and they would lose their control of the mayor’s office. That’s why I think it probably asked or ordered him not to run for re-election, and why he subsequently endorsed Tom Westmoreland, a favorite of the city’s employees. Pengra is an emotional kind of guy and probably felt jilted after all he did for the city’s developers and wanted to get back at them by running his own candidate.

What’s kind of funny is that the Deep State appears to have been laying the groundwork for his replacement for quite some time even though he may have been completely unaware of it until recently. Earlier this year The Crossroads Journal published an extremely fluffy puff piece on Hooge which was so obsequious it was actually a little embarrassing.

(I can’t find the original article online; it may have been removed to make it look like Hooge wasn’t getting preferential treatment from the paper during the election. The Crossroads Journal receives much of its advertising revenue from the real estate community that has a vested interest in keeping Eagle Mountain developer-friendly, if you know what I mean.)

In essence, Eagle Mountain’s Deep State seems like it’s doing what it does best: playing whack-a-mole with local voters. When we remove or discredit one of their crooked officials at the ballot box, they put up another in its place, over and over again. First, it was with Jackson, then with Pengra, and now with Hooge.

The Debbie Hooge Record

If you have any doubt about Hooge being the Deep State’s preferred candidate this election cycle, take a look at the following excerpt from page 12 of, “A Ride from the Past on a Road to the Future: A History of Eagle Mountain.” (Pay attention to the italicized sections.)

In December 1996, the County Commission appointed Debbie Hooge as the first Mayor of Eagle Mountain. The first council consisted of Nick Berg, John Jacob, Cyril Watt and Diane Bradshaw. Until this time Debbie had been working as the real estate agent for the area north of Walden’s property which was known as Cedar Pass Ranch. She worked with Scott Kirkland, their managing partner, to sell lots in this five-acre-lot subdivision. Nick Berg was one of John Walden’s key employees and had initially brought the Fitzgerald property to his attention. John Jacob, a water developer, and Diane Bradshaw were residents of Cedar Pass Ranch and Cyril Watt was a leader of the CUAB in the Harvest Haven subdivision on the north side of Hwy 73 across from Cedar Pass Ranch. As there were some who asserted that certain leaders may have conflicts of interest, and the “commissioners, saying that they wanted to avoid stacking the deck in favor of Walden’s development company, they rejected Dave Conine, who was a key land planner for Walden, as one of the council members and appointed resident John Jacob instead.”14

Shortly after incorporation, a lawsuit was filed by a Cedar Valley resident who challenged the legitimacy of the town, since the mayor did not yet actually reside in the community at the time of incorporation. There were also questions of conflict of interest raised by residents concerned about members of the council approving developments from which they would personally benefit. After several months, the courts agreed the law was based on “intent” and that Mayor Hooge and the town were legal.

Mayor Hooge, who had been working with the Cedar Pass LLC and Scott Kirkland, left and began working with John Walden, only later to leave John Walden to work with Bob Lynds on developing the land to the east of Cedar Pass Ranch and north of the current Pony Express Pkwy. They would work closely with Cedar Pass LLC and Scott Kirkland again with their recent purchase of the land south of Pony Express Pkwy.

Link to book source:

Also, check out this link to an excerpt of the city’s infamous master development agreement with its main developer that contains Hooge’s signature.

First page of MDA and signature pages:

The most unconscionable part of this entire master development agreement is that it basically gave the developer the legal right to plan, inspect and approve his own developments without needing any city approval. This almost completely bypassed the normal checks and balances of local government, which are designed to ensure that developers follow building codes so residents have safe and sound homes.

See pages 7-13 for more details:

Do you really want “Deep State Debbie” to be your mayor, again?

(Update: Mayor Pengra just announced his resignation effective August 18th so he can accept a job with Rocky Mountain Power as an economic development director. This is the same company that bought our city’s electrical grid from him while he was mayor. Some would speculate (yes, that means me and a few friends) that he just got a Deep State buyout package.)

Guide to Eagle Mountain Corruption


This site is divided into two sections: News Updates and Reports. Updates can be found on the homepage and the main reports can be found in the left-hand navigation pane or in the menu (if you’re viewing this on a mobile device).

City Administrator Ifo Pili Wants a Raise . . .

. . . and Mayor Pengra wants to give it to him.

If you want to stop it, please contact your council members today since the vote on his new contract will be at tonight’s (4-4-2017) council meeting.

Below is a copy of an email I sent to Eagle Mountain’s city council yesterday describing why he should not get it.


Dear Council Members:

This morning I filed a GRAMA request for a copy of City Administrator Ifo Pili’s employment contract with Eagle Mountain City. While I am waiting for this document, I thought I’d send you a quick note about what I already know about his compensation.

(1) When he was hired to replace John Hendrickson, the last city administrator, his starting pay as a first-year administrator was $161,498. This was MORE than Hendrickson’s ending pay of $153,621 even though he had 38 years of experience. What this indicates to me is that Pili was WAY overpaid when he first took this job. Normally, first-time administrators are paid near the bottom of the pay scale because of their lack of experience.

(2) When the city sent out the agenda for tomorrow’s council meeting it included the following text,

“Mr. Pili has served as the City Administrator since 2012 and has not received a pay raise or other form of increased compensation during his tenure as City Administrator.” (emphasis added)

Attached to this email are pdf screenshots of Pili’s compensation since FY2012 from the state’s transparency website. If you review them, you will find that this statement is patently false.

Total Compensation
FY2013 — $161,498
FY2014 — $166,539
FY2015 — $169,094
FY2016 — $162,050

In all three of the fiscal years after he took over, he made MORE than he first did when he became our city administrator. But my guess is that he intentionally lowered his take-home pay in FY2016 so it would look like he hasn’t made any more money, which would help him convince you that it was time to give him a big raise. This is the kind of “cooking the books” that’s typical in Eagle Mountain.


I am deeply concerned that we are overpaying our city employees and breaking the bank, especially when he have so many other urgent spending priorities. Shortly after Pili became our city administrator our city’s payroll expenses rose about $500k in only two years for just some of the city’s full time staff. I don’t think we should reward our city administrator with a raise for doing such a bad job of holding down our costs.

Although I haven’t produced an updated salary survey yet, I know that we could save at least $500k annually, and probably $1 million, if we just brought our employee costs into line with our more frugal neighbors. Saratoga Springs and Lehi are horrible examples to follow because their administrators are equally bad at holding the line on the costs of their own staff wages and benefits.

Please, don’t give Pili a raise. The man doesn’t deserve it. Instead, I think it’s time to start shopping around for a new administrator because this one has been involved in so many of the city’s scandals, including the credit card fraud and the building and development fraud going on in the city.

If you would like more information about any of these scandals, please visit or contact me directly.


Sam Allen

Links to supporting attachments:
Eagle Mountain employee raises FY2012-2014 — select full-time employees
Ifo Pili’s 2012 Employment Contract
Pili FY2012 gross compensation
Pili FY2013 gross compensation
Pili FY2014 gross compensation
Pili FY2015 gross compensation
Pili FY2016 gross compensation
Hendrickson FY2012 gross compensation
Excerpt from 4-4-2017 council agenda

Note: If you examine Pili’s employment contract closely you’ll notice that no one proof read it properly. Line item #3 is at the bottom of page 1 and repeated again at the top of page 2. This level of unprofessionalism is typical of our city attorney’s performance. It was most likely drafted by City Attorney Jeremy Cook, another overpaid Eagle Mountain city official.

Utah’s Crooked Prosecutors

If you want to see exactly how incompetent and/or crooked some of the state’s prosecutors are, check out this brief report. It documents how I have followed every step for reporting corruption in Eagle Mountain yet not one city official has been prosecuted despite the overwhelming evidence of their illegal activities.


I can’t help but conclude that Utah is now following in the footsteps of the nation’s other one-party states
where the dominant party actively covers up its own corruption so it can maintain its hold on power.


Vote Against Corruption on Nov. 8th

An Open Letter to Utah’s Voters:

I am a conservative Republican living in Eagle Mountain and have just released a new report that documents how Governor Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes have used their offices to protect developer-related corruption in my city.

According to a former city building inspector one of our most powerful local developers has been exempt from the city’s building codes for about 19 years, which has almost certainly padded his bottom line with tens of millions of dollars in illegal profits at the expense of the city’s residents. When I tried to clean up my city by getting my government employees fired and prosecuted, Herbert’s appointees and Reyes’ staff repeatedly ran interference for them.


I have documented all of this in my report, which also contains dozens of links to backup documentation so you don’t have to take my word for it. You can find the report here:

“Eagle Mountain’s Developer Utopia–Building Codes Optional, Profits Extra-Rich”

This corruption has got to stop and we can begin the process by voting for Herbert’s and Reyes’ Democratic and Libertarian challengers, respectively, in this election cycle. I know it’s not an ideal solution, but if we allow these men to stay in office for another four years I’m pretty sure Utah will follow the example of the country’s other one-party states where the corruption becomes so entrenched no one can stop it.

That is why I am urging all Utah voters, and their political leaders, to stand together so we can throw these men out of office. Corruption is a real issue that transcends party lines and should trump our normal policy differences every election season.

2016 Election Recommendations

I hope I can count on your support at the ballot box on November 8th. If you have any questions or would like more info, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Yours truly,

Sam Allen
Eagle Mountain, Utah

P.S. Please share this letter with your friends and family to spread the word about Utah’s corruption. If enough people become aware of it, we can defeat it together.

Also, if you are interested in learning how to become a highly effective government reformer, you might want to check out my three-page case study about my fight in Eagle Mountain. Reforming government is easier than you think, if you have the right strategy.

The Pretenders: A Case Study About Eagle Mountain Corruption


Tom Westmoreland — A Counterfeit Conservative

TOM-ACC-Tom-mugWhen I recruited Tom Westmoreland to run for a city council position in early 2013 I did so because he seemed like a solid conservative. He was coming from the private sector. He had a long history of working to promote conservative political issues such as gaining state control of Federal lands in Utah. He seemed to know a lot of other conservatives in the state, which would’ve been a great asset to our small, backwards city. And best of all, he openly stated that one of his goals, if he ever got into office, was to not go soft like so many of the other politicians he had helped get elected over the years. He even had copies of the U.S. Constitution hanging on his walls at home.

(Tom’s Eagle Mountain City bio)

During the campaign we had one exchange in particular that reaffirmed my faith in him. He said that during one of his door-to-door visits a resident asked him about his position on the city’s much-loathed rodeo. He replied that he “didn’t think government should be in the entertainment business.” That was exactly the right answer. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Tom to change his tune once he got into office.

Pony Express Days Rodeo Corruption

Historically, Eagle Mountain’s rodeo and other special events have been the city’s biggest money pits. For years our former mayor, Heather Jackson, and her employees used them as excuses to use taxpayer funds for their own personal entertainment. According to Lianne Pengra, a former city official who used to help organize the city’s events, over half of the approximately 6,000 rodeo tickets that were issued in 2012 were given away for free by the mayor and others to their friends, families, local media outlets, and visiting politicians.

In addition to free event tickets, many of these people were also given access to the city’s VIP tent where they got all-you-can-eat meals at taxpayer expense. Not surprisingly, this tent was closed to the public that actually paid for their meals.

The lost ticket revenue and outrageous event expenses contributed to annual losses which made many of the city’s more frugal residents extremely angry. Eagle Mountain’s rodeo epitomized government corruption at its worst on the local level.

But instead of killing it as the vast majority of the city’s residents wanted, Tom decided to prop it up with even more taxpayer subsidies after telling voters on the campaign trail that he “didn’t think government should be in the entertainment business.”

Shortly after he took office in January 2014 the city council started debating the future of its money-losing rodeo and during this debate Tom told me how impressed he was by the city’s rodeo supporters. He said that since they were extremely well-organized, he wanted to “help them help themselves” by also supporting them financially with taxpayer money. The most egregious contributions were the city’s payments for the rodeo award purse ($14,000) and their private PRCA rodeo organization dues (~$1,400).

When the contentious issue of who would pay for the rodeo bleachers came up, Wendy Lojik, a rodeo organizer, had this to say in a February 18th, 2014 city council meeting:


Complete meeting minutes: (see page 9 for context)

Bleacher purchase agreement:

(Item 1 mentions that an unnamed third-party (the Rodeo Committee) would be responsible for the bulk of the purchase price of the bleachers. The third-party was never named even though it should have been.)

Excerpt from bleacher contract:


The city explicitly sold its financial support of the rodeo to the public by telling everyone that these taxpayer subsidies would be going to a 501(c)3 charity. This was presumably done to make these contributions legal. The following excerpt from the meeting validates this:


The problem is that it didn’t appear as if the Rodeo Committee was operating as a legally recognized 501(c)3 organization at the time they received the donations. According to the IRS website, tax-exempt status is normally only effective as of the date of the original application, if it was filed in a timely manner.

In fact, according to a July 5, 2016 phone call I had with an IRS tax-exempt official, the Rodeo Committee didn’t file any application to become a tax-exempt organization until March 2016, two years after they said they were operating as a 501(c)3! This may be why Jared Gray, the current president of the Rodeo Committee (aka: Pony Express Events), has never responded to my requests for copies of their original application, which he has told city officials were delayed by the IRS.

When I pressed the IRS representative to verify that no previous applications had, in fact, been filed, even under other names, he definitively stated to me over the phone that they had only filed one application and that it was submitted in March 2016. Either he was in error or the Rodeo Committee has been misleading the city in order to cover-up its legal problems.

If you want to read more about this scandal, you can find the background info here: ( (As more details emerge, they will be released in an upcoming report.)

To make matters worse, Utah State law explicitly states that charities cannot solicit donations unless they are exempt or registered with the state Division of Consumer Protection. According to my reading of the law the Rodeo Committee does not qualify as an exempt organization, and it does not appear as if they registered either.


After verifying to a city resident over the phone that they were, in fact, not complying with the law at all, the Utah State Division of Consumer Protection sent them a kindly worded letter alerting them to their need to register.

What this means is that the city gave taxpayer money to a group of private citizens who were not even legally allowed to solicit donations in the state. And Tom helped facilitate it!

But wait, it gets even worse! The Rodeo Committee also reneged on its promise to use its own funds to pay for the rodeo bleachers as promised by Wendy Lojik. Tom along with two other council members voted to use proceeds from the city’s recently sold utility companies to pay off the cost of the bleachers for them, thus cheating taxpayers again and probably breaking the law.

Excerpts from the December 1, 2015 City Council Meeting minutes:



Source: (pg. 9, item 19)

(Note how the city’s minutes never actually mention that they are covering a private debt. We can thank our city recorder, Fionnuala Kofoed, for this obfuscation. It’s also worth noting that the city had absolutely no obligation to pay this debt according to the terms of the bleacher purchase contract–see the second underlined portion in the excerpt of the bleacher contract.)


I’ve been watching Eagle Mountain politics long enough to know that this bait and switch was probably planned from the very beginning by our new mayor, Chris Pengra, and Wendy Lojik, the founder of the Pony Express Days Rodeo Committee. It makes you wonder how Lojik got such a sweetheart deal.

Could it have anything to do with the fact that she is the owner and publisher of our local paper, the Crossroads Journal, and that politicians always want to be loved by the press?

Linked-In profile for Wendy Lojik, owner of Crossroads Journal:

One interesting fact about Lojik “the publisher” is that her paper steadfastly refuses to cover any political scandals in the city, including the one that I will cover next. Maybe that’s why the city’s politicians have been so willing to subsidize her expensive horse hobby . . . .

Eagle Mountain City’s Credit Card Abuses

Tom’s votes in support of the city’s money-losing rodeo stands in stark contrast to his complete non-support of my attempts to get some accountability for the city’s other pork like its outrageous spending at area restaurants and department stores.

Check out this listing of the restaurants and stores where our city’s employees shopped with our taxpayer-funded credit cards:

When I first started looking into the city’s credit card abuses in early 2014 I had an extremely tough time getting documents from the city in a timely manner and at a reasonable price. But since I now had a friend on the council I thought I’d ask for his help.

I had originally requested four years of credit card statements (2010-2013) from the city. In response, the city only gave me two years’ worth of statements (2010-2011) and charged me more for them than they had originally estimated for the whole batch. Since I couldn’t afford any more of their exorbitant fees, I went to Tom to ask for his help in getting the rest of them for free. In order to prove that it was in the public interest for the city to release these statements without charge, I gave Tom copies of all the statements I had received to-date so he could see for himself the massive spending problems within the city. To my surprise, he denied my request for help.

It was pretty obvious Tom didn’t want to help because he thought he would ruin his working relationship with the city’s bureaucrats if he helped me get information that would embarrass them.

It took me a while but I was eventually able to raise enough donations from other people to pay for the rest of the statements without Tom’s help. And once I finished my report which analyzed and documented the city’s spending problems, I gave Tom an advance copy and asked for a meeting with him to discuss my findings.

It took Tom over two months to find the time in his schedule to meet with me and when he finally did drop by my house a week before the all-important 2015 budget vote, he confessed that he had never read the report. When I asked him whether he would support a ban on using taxpayer money for food purchases, he told me that he thought the issue needed further study because he “didn’t want to create any unintended consequences.”

This was an outrageous statement for him to make since I had kept him in the loop regarding the city’s restaurant spending from the very beginning. And I find it very hard to believe that it would take anyone more than 18 months to figure out that our city employees have a serious eating disorder. Besides, there is absolutely no need for taxpayers to pay for the meals of public officials when we already pay them generous salaries which they can use to pay for their own food. It’s what the rest of us do in the private sector.

The next insult from Tom came a week later when I confronted him and the other council members in the actual 2015 public budget hearing. After reviewing the city’s credit card spending in my public statement and explaining why we couldn’t trust our employees to make any food purchases, I asked the city council to remove all the food money from the city’s budget. Here’s the audio of Tom’s reply:

In his rambling statement Tom basically said that he and the other council members had already addressed most of issues I had identified in my report and that he was willing to entertain further discussion about the city’s food expenditures. But he also stated that he wasn’t willing to do it during this budget cycle because he thought the issue needed more study. Sounds perfectly reasonable, doesn’t it? . . . unless you consider these facts:

  1. He had 18 months to study the issue and didn’t.
  1. City council members and employees still eat taxpayer-funded meals.
  1. The city is still withholding dozens of credit card statements, which Jeremy Cook, the city attorney, promised to turn over in a State Records Committee appeal hearing, twice.
  1. As of July 10, 2016 the city is still not disclosing its restaurant purchases on the state’s transparency website as required by law.
  1. No city employee has ever been fired or prosecuted for misusing the city’s credit cards at area restaurants or department stores.
  1. City vehicles could still be spotted at area restaurants outside the city’s limits, even after Tom declared the problems largely solved.


At best, Tom is intentionally choosing to be ignorant of the city’s corruption so he doesn’t have to deal with it. At worst, he has become part of the problem. And it might even be both.

Lessons Learned

Tom Westmoreland was obviously a “campaign conservative” when he ran for office because he has been anything but conservative when it has come to dealing with much of the city’s pork. When Wendy Lojik, the publisher of the Crossroads Journal, used her background in cosmetology and publishing to dress up the city’s rodeo pork, Tom thought it looked good enough to vote for, at least twice.

TOM-ACC-Tom-campaign-signIt took him less than 18 months to go native once he got into government. He now defends the city’s pork while fighting the residents who want to eliminate it. In essence, he has become the kind of politician he used to loathe.

The most disappointing aspect of Tom’s time in office is that I have never been able to get him to publicly or privately condemn our city employees’ outrageous spending and numerous cover-ups. When I asked him why he wouldn’t, he said he “didn’t think it was productive to introduce emotion into the debate.” What he really meant to say was that he didn’t think it was worth discussing facts that would make the city’s employees angry. It’s pretty obvious that Tom cares much more about his relationship with the city’s bureaucrats than he cares about the voters who put him into office. It’s a real shame because I thought he was the perfect candidate when I first asked him to run for office.

Were the City’s Rodeo Donations Fraudulent?


Just when we all thought the city’s rodeo drama was over, a new scandal has emerged. Apparently, the Pony Express Days Rodeo Committee never got formal approval from the IRS to operate as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt charity.

In a March 18, 2014 public meeting Jared Gray, a director of the committee’s board of trustees, explicitly stated that they were a “501 non-profit.” They have also heavily implied as much in the marketing material they have produced since then.

But if the Rodeo Committee never actually filed an application to become one, they might have committed fraud against the taxpayers and sponsors who subsequently relied upon their statements to justify their donations. If the Rodeo Committee filed an application but it got denied by the IRS, and they never told anyone, they have a whole host of other problems. But we don’t know exactly what happened because they haven’t responded to multiple requests for proof of their tax-exempt status.

To make matters worse, Mayor Pengra explicitly stated in this same public hearing that he had personally verified that the Rodeo Committee was a 501(c)3 charity. City Administrator Ifo Pili and City Attorney Jeremy Cook also apparently failed to verify that the Rodeo Committee was legit before they arranged the city’s donations to it.

City residents should know that even though there are no longer any specific appropriations for the rodeo and its associated events in the city’s budgets, they still get a substantial amount of non-monetary support from taxpayers. I don’t believe the Rodeo Committee (now known as Pony Express Events) pays anything for the police services, utilities, and marketing assistance it receives from the city. I also believe it only pays $1 for its use of the rodeo grounds. It may even have access to city-owned equipment and other resources which they use for free.

If you would like to learn more about how deceitful, incompetent, and/or corrupt this whole arrangement has been, you’ll want to read the public statement I made to the council at the May 17, 2016 budget hearing as well as browse through the research material that backs up my assertions. The proof is damning.


What’s really disturbing is that when I brought this potential fraud to the attention of Mayor Pengra and the council, the mayor wasn’t upset at Wendy Lojik or Jared Gray, the former president and current president of the rodeo committee. He was incensed with me for exposing the scandal!

It is also slightly troubling that the council remained stubbornly silent and never asked Lojik to explain herself when she got up and told them everything was in order. It would have been nice if they had at least challenged her a bit and asked her to explain the current status of her application, if it even exists. Maybe they were just too shell-shocked to respond to the unfolding drama.

What is really telling is that Lojik claimed that she had hired one of Utah’s best law firms to represent the committee in this matter. Normally, people don’t hire the best (and probably most expensive) lawyers to handle routine charity filings. They usually hire the best only when they think they are in real trouble.

While we wait for the rest of this drama to unfold there are two things that should happen: (1) the city should immediately withhold all taxpayer resources from the rodeo committee going forward, and (2) residents should boycott the city’s Pony Express Days events.

We should not be doing business with or patronizing a dishonest organization.


To watch a good summary of why citizens have been opposed to funding the rodeo in the past, check out this clip of Jen Morrison’s public statement dated March 18, 2014. It’s very succinct.

Jen Morrison

Donna Burnham: The Political Windsock

burnham-mugOn March 4, 2016 Donna Burnham announced via her friends at the Daily Herald that she was running for the Utah House District 2 seat that is being vacated by David Lifferth (R). This district includes Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs. But before voters do anything crazy–like put her in charge of voting on even bigger government budgets–they really ought to learn a little about her not-so “conservative” record in Eagle Mountain.

During Burnham’s tenure as an Eagle Mountain City council member the city’s employees and elected officials regularly used the city’s credit cards to buy meals for themselves, their colleagues, and sometimes even their family members at area restaurants and stores.

After I discovered the true scope of the city’s eating disorders I asked Burnham and the other council members to remove all the food money from the city’s FY 2016 budget during the city’s annual budget hearing. This is part of what Burnham had to say when she refused my request:

Audio clip:

Burnham actually bragged about paying for two of her own meals! What kind of politician does that? Maybe someone who is used to taxpayers footing the bill for her?

In fact, during one infamous Christmas party at Mayor Heather Jackson’s house, Burnham and the other council members ate food which was purchased using money the mayor (or her assistant) got by inappropriately cashing the city’s annual cash rebate check from Costco. This private party was also famous because the mayor had her personal assistant help her clean her house before her political guests arrived.

If you want to understand why Burnham thought it was worth bragging about paying for her own meal after a State Library Board meeting, all you’ve got to do is browse these summaries of the city’s meal purchases:

The city’s 2010-2013 credit card statements are chock full of examples of city employees and elected officials who used taxpayer money to pay for meals before and after public meetings. It seemed to be a common practice to use any excuse available to justify eating out on the taxpayer dime. And it doesn’t appear that Burnham had any problems with these expenditures while they were happening. She only seemed to discover her conscience after I exposed the city’s spending problems.

But it gets worse! When I tried get copies of all of the city’s credit card statements for the 2010-2013 period, Mayor Pengra refused to turn over many of them and I never heard Burnham once condemn the cover-up. Instead, she actually defended the city’s leaders and their spending habits.

List of missing credit card statements:

Audio clip supporting leaders:

Voters should not reward Burnham with higher office after she failed to protect them in Eagle Mountain. She’s obviously just a campaign conservative who turns into a political windsock the minute she gets into power. And the winds of government are generally not friendly to taxpayers.

If you want to learn more about Burnham’s true record on the Eagle Mountain City Council, please read the following report. It’s a doozy.

Pigs in Suits: A Citizen Audit of Eagle Mountain City’s 2010-2013 Credit Card Statements

If you want to learn more about how Burnham sees herself, you can find her campaign website here: