Attorney General freezes Kingston campaign contribution
(KUTV) Utah's Attorney General Sean Reyes got more than $40,000 in campaign donations from businesses and individuals associated with the controversial Kingston polygamist clan. The campaign confirmed the donation.
Reyes was also the keynote speaker at a Christmas party held for employees of Washakie Renewable Energy Dec. 19, 2014.
The business was raided by federal agents last week, sources say, in connection with a potential tax fraud case. Alan Crooks, who runs Reyes political campaign, says the money has been frozen and will soon be placed in an escrow account and the campaign is waiting for guidance from the federal government, and may eventually give the money to charity.
A woman who spoke to 2News on the condition of anonymity says Reyes appeared to have been extremely friendly with the Kingston clan, particularly the owner of Washakie, Jacob Kingston.
"He went straight to Jacob Kingston, started talking to him. Other Kingstons came up, talked to him also; he ended up sitting at their table to eat dinner from what I remember," said the woman.
She says that Reyes spoke glowingly about Washakie and the Kingston family, despite the fact that top leaders of the polygamist group had been jailed for felony incest, underage marriage and abuse. John Daniel Kingston was jailed for beating his 16-year-old daughter when she ran away from the clan after she was supposed to marry her uncle.
Crooks says Reyes does not have a relationship with the Kingston's and was invited to the Christmas party by an old Reyes friend who was, at the time working for Washakie. Crooks says the attorney general was simply speaking at the company party to simply congratulate them on recent and upcoming expansions inside the company, despite the fact that at the time, Washakie had already been in business for the past seven years.
The woman we spoke to says it concerned her at the time that the top law enforcement agent for the state was "hobnobbing" with the Kingstons, especially given their past problems with the law.
"I felt like if there were more victims like that daughter ... how comfortable would they be to try to seek refuge when our attorney general that's supposed to be protecting them was there rubbing elbows," said the woman.
Reyes is not the only Utah politician to get political donations from the Kingston family. Many state lawmakers got small donations from $250 to $1000. Gov. Gary Herbert got a $5,000 donation from the Kingstons.
Crooks says at the time of the keynote speech, Reyes had not recieved any donations from Washakie, and the donations didn't start coming to the campaign until the following year.
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