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Utah’s AG spent donation from Kingston polygamous family his campaign claimed was put aside

Posted at 8:49 AM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 13:47:43-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes spent a donation from Washakie Renewable Energy CEO Jacob Kingston that his campaign originally claimed had been set aside in the aftermath of a federal raid.

The disclosure by Reyes’ campaign, first reported The Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke, shows that the money had already been spent despite claims to FOX 13 and others that it was in escrow.

“In 2014, the Reyes campaign received donation support from Washakie Renewable Energy (WRE). In 2016, the campaign was contacted by federal agencies about the said donation. By that time, the donation had been depleted. Due to the fact that the funds were no longer available, the campaign was not able to put the donation in escrow,” Reyes campaign consultant Alan Crooks posted in a November 2019 statement on their re-election website.

In 2016, federal agents raided properties tied to the Kingston polygamous families in what would become a criminal case against Jacob Kingston; his wife, Sally; his mother, Rachel; and his brother, Isaiah. They were accused of perpetuating a half-billion dollar tax fraud scheme involving biofuels through Washakie Renewable Energy.

They ultimately struck plea deals and are expected to testify against the remaining defendant, Lev Dermen, who is on trial right now in federal court on charges connected to the scheme.

At the time of the raid, FOX 13 reported that Washakie was a big contributor to lawmakers, Governor Gary Herbert, the Utah Republican Party, and AG Reyes. Reyes got $50,000 from Washakie and Sally Kingston.

In 2016, the Reyes campaign told FOX 13 it had no relationship with the Kingstons other than Washakie, nor does it influence any of his policies.

“The campaign was unaware of the alleged business practices,” Crooks told FOX 13 at the time. “We have put the contribution in escrow until we get more direction from the feds.”