Rep. Kurt Oscarson, D-Sandy, wants the legislative auditor general's office to look into a list of concerns raised about the Utah Sports Authority, which will spend millions of tax dollars on Olympic facilities.
"I hope they come out smelling like a rose. But if they don't, there'll be a lot more animosity on the part of the public toward the Olympics," Oscarson said.He said the 11/2 pages of questions about what the sports authority is doing - questions that include whether "good ol' boys" are getting contracts - came from both Olympic critics and insiders.
"We just want to make sure their procedures are aboveboard," Oscarson said, adding that he has no personal knowledge of any wrongdoing on the sports authority.
The sports authority, whose members include some of the state's most influential community and business leaders, was created by the Legislature two years ago to oversee the construction of Olympic facilities.
A total of $56 million in sales taxes is being set aside to pay for the ski jumps, bobsled runs and other facilities that are to be built even if Salt Lake City is not selected as the site of the 1998 Winter Games.
Scott Nelson, vice chairman of the sports authority, said he doesn't believe an audit would uncover any problems. He said the sports authority benefits from the expertise of both its members and "top-flight" state officials.
"The sports authority is a creation of the Legislature. Certainly they can do what they wish with us," Nelson said. "There aren't any problems. There may be people who would like information they don't have."
Oscarson's request will be considered by the Legislature's audit subcommittee at their next meeting, which is expected to be scheduled next week.
He said if the subcommittee acts quickly, the audit could be done before the International Olympic Committee makes its choice in June. Depending on the audit findings, Oscarson said it could have a positive effect on the bid.
"If it comes out clean, to me it will be a plus for the bid," he said. "A lot of people have said, `You're anti-Olympics.' I'm not. But they're spending a lot of taxpayers' money."
The concerns cited in Oscarson's request range from why construction has not started on any of the facilities to what they will be used for besides the Olympics.
He also asks whether the overall Olympic budget, which nearly doubled in size last year to $749 million, is realistic and said a more detailed budget account is needed.
In 1988, another legislative audit Oscarson requested raised questions about the financial dealings of the state's sports development office and two private organizations.
One of the private organizations cited in the 1988 audit, Better Utah Inc., had been used to raise funds for Salt Lake City's unsuccessful bid to host a past Winter Games.