Local News

Despite Budget Constraints Tusayan Continues To Spend $15,000 A Month On Washington DC Lobbying Firm

November 22, 2019

 As Tusayan struggles to find money to pay for things such as public safety, some high-priced DC lobbyists are getting $15,000 a month from Town coffers, and town hall has little to say about what those lobbyists are doing and who benefits.

Since August of 2017, the Town of Tusayan has been paying the high powered lobbying form of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, and Schreck $15,000 a month for issues related to “infrastructure, housing, and utilities.”

There is no other information available. The Watchdog submitted a public records request and was informed correspondence between the town and the lobbyist firm was not available because it fell under attorney-client privilege. The Watchdog acknowledged that while legal issues would fall under that umbrella, there may be non-legal issues related to lobbying the federal government that would not be covered by attorney client privilege. Hopefully the new management in place at Town Hall will reconsider the recent records request response.

According to records filed with the federal government, the agencies Brownstein lobbied for Tusayan include the Department of the Interior, the US Forest Service, The House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate. Here is a link to a recent quarterly report. http://disclosures.house.gov/ld/ldxmlrelease/2018/Q1/300948291.xml.

Three lobbyists have worked with Brownstein on Tusayan’s behalf. They are Luke Johnson, who has worked at the Bureau of Land Management, Ryan Smith, who served as a Senior Legislative advisor to Senator Jon Kyl, and William McGrath who served as staff director for the Interior, Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Since August of 2017, Tusayan has spent more than $425,000 on this team of high-powered DC lobbyists. Their work is rarely if ever discussed in open session. When Councilman Robb Baldosky recently asked about the expenditures, Mayor Craig Sanderson replied it has to do with access issues to town land.

Here is a link to a summary of Tusayan’s lobby expenditures courtesy of ProPublica. https://projects.propublica.org/represent/lobbying/r/300927050

One could infer that the properties Sanderson mentioned are Kotzin and Ten-X. If so, that’s a lot of lobbyist loot to facilitate an affordable housing project for some 20 homes at a time when the Town’s budget is about $1.4 million. Especially when you consider that the housing project is stalled because the former town manager flouted county flood plain rules.

Meanwhile Italian developer Stilo USA is seeking to build a massive commercial and residential project at the doorstep of the Grand Canyon. According to ProPublica Stilo has no spent any money on federal lobbyists since July of 2018. Here is a link. https://projects.propublica.org/represent/lobbying/r/301018242.