Gov. Norm Bangerter's office says it sees no conflict of interest stemming from former chief of staff Jon Memmott's dual roles as a private state legislative consultant and a lobbyist.
Under the private contract, Memmott reviews legislation for the governor. At the same time, he is a lobbyist for four clients interested in bills before the Utah Legislature.The governor's office said there is no conflict because Memmott never has asked for special favors for his clients, and has always been straightforward with the governor about his activities.
Memmott, meantime, said his value to individual companies has not been enhanced because of his contract with the governor's office and in fact had limited his ability to obtain more clients.
"If I didn't have the contract, I'd still be close friends with the governor and could still visit with him," he said. "And I might be able to get contracts that I now feel I shouldn't take because of my contract with the governor's office. I actually feel I'm doing the work for the governor's office as a favor to him."
Memmott was Bangerter's chief of staff from 1985 until a little over a year ago, when he was replaced by Reed Searle. Searle was viewed by some Republican strategists as more politically astute and equipped to help the governor win re-election.
After leaving the governor's office, Memmott became a partner in the consulting firm Public Affairs Advisory Group, and was given a $15,000 contract to review and track legislation for Bangerter and make recommendations and draft legislation at the governor's request.
Bud Scruggs, a former Public Affairs Advisory Group partner, replaced Searle as chief of staff.
Memmott since has gone to the law firm of Nielsen and Senior, but his contract with the governor's office was renewed for the current legislative session. The contract was pared down to $10,000 this year, based on an hourly rate of $100 for an estimated 100 hours of work.
Memmott is also being paid to lobby on behalf of Nielsen and Senior, Gold Cross Ambulance, Unisys and the Utah Trial Lawyers Association.
But Bangerter's press secretary, Francine Giani, said Memmott has not tried to sway the governor on any issue.