the lobbyist who Republicans charged last year unethically performed legislative work for Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, will soon be Owens' top assistant.
Owens confirmed the appointment Tuesday, saying Brunsdale will begin working as his administrative assistant on Feb. 15.Owens said Brunsdale is his former law clerk and law partner, and says Brunsdale's expertise on the Central Utah Project and wilderness matters will be helpful this year when both areas are expected to be major issues for Utah's congressional delegation.
Owens also said he does not expect that the old ethics charges from Republicans will hurt him or Brunsdale as they work together. The charges were dismissed by the House Ethics Committee last year for "technical deficiencies," and because little time existed to investigate them before the election.
Disagreeing, however, is former State Republican Party Chairman Craig Moody - who filed the ethics charges.
"I'm glad to see that they've (Owens and Bruns-dale) finally made it official. Kenley's always been working for him, and now he's just on the payroll."
Moody said he fully expects the old ethics investigation to continue, although he did not re-file his charges and did not know what effect Brunsdale working for Owens would have on it.
Last year, Moody filed ethics charges against Owens for supposedly allowing Brunsdale free run of his office while he was a lobbyist for Utah Power & Light, and supposedly allowing him to write legislation about the CUP and to spearhead meetings on it.
Among the controversial parts of the CUP legislation were provisions calling for public power companies - types of "competitors" to the privately owned UP&L - to pay more for hydro-power to finance environmental portions of the CUP.
"The ethics charges were dropped, and everybody pretty much saw them as just a transparent election-year ploy for publicity. There was nothing to them," Owens said Tuesday.
When the ethics charges were dropped last year, Owens said that Moody's filing them was "a mean-spirited act of political desperation that could only harm me if no one read beyond the headline raised by the complaint."
At the time, State Democratic Chairman Randy Horiuchi called for Moody to apologize to Owens. Moody refused, and said the ethics committee considered them serious charges and might reconsider them later.
Owens said Brunsdale will take a year's leave of absence from his law firm to work for Owens as he pushes wilderness and CUP legislation this year.
"He is the chairman of the Utah Roundtable of Sportsmen and Conservationists, and his point of view will be a great help," Owens said.
He added, jokingly, "I know he'll be great, because I taught him everything he knows."