Sunday, April 19, 2009

Standard-Examiner: Aardema Rejected Envision Ogden Cash Offer

Ace Reporter Schwebke continues to peel back the facts on the Envision Ogden/FNURE campaign donation money laundering scandal

Tantalizing story in the Standard-Examiner this morning, as Ace Reporter Schwebke continues to peel back the facts on the Envision Ogden/FNURE campaign donation money laundering scandal. To kickstart the discussion this morning, we'll focus on a few of the more interesting story angles, and offer some very brief editorial commentary of our own.

First, according to this morning's story, Sheila Aardema, (who was narrowly defeated by now city councilman Blain Johnson,) was offered Envision Ogden campaign dough early during the 2007 municipal election campaign; but for ethical reasons, she turned the shadowy organization's bribe donation down flat:
OGDEN -- The meeting lasted only about an hour, but it was long enough for Sheila P. Aardema to realize she couldn't accept the tempting offer.
It was around mid-July 2007 and Aardema had barely filed as a candidate for an at-large city council seat when Abraham Shreve, who heads Envision Ogden, visited her East Bench home.
Shreve had a tantalizing proposal.
He told Aardema that Envision Ogden, which was formed purportedly to promote the city's high-adventure recreation offerings, might be willing to provide money for her bare-bones campaign.
"He said 'We have money to give candidates,' " Aardema told the Standard-Examiner, recalling her conversation with Shreve. "He said that he had influence with people that wanted to improve Ogden."
Aardema knew an infusion of cash could help her campaign, but she flatly refused Shreve's offer.
"I told him no thank you," she said. "I just wanted to be able to stand up for myself and not be obligated to someone else."
Aardema said that while Shreve was stunned by her rejection of the offer, she stands by her decision, given the recent controversy surrounding Envision Ogden's campaign contributions to City Councilman Blain Johnson, who defeated her in the 2007 election by 65 votes.
"I think Abe thought I was a little bit crazy for turning him down," she said. "I'm so glad I did what I did."
Kudos to Ms. Aardema, we say. Sadly, integrity such as hers is becoming a rarity in modern American politics.

Next, we learn that Envision Ogden Head Honcho Abe Shreve, one of the several participants in this scandal who could shed some real light on the subject, is still laying low and keeping mum, of course:
Shreve did not return numerous phone calls from the Standard-Examiner seeking comment on Envision Ogden's decision to provide Johnson with campaign funds or its political activities.
Efforts to contact Shreve in person at his job at Keller Williams Success Realty in South Ogden were also unsuccessful.
Seems to us that an "honest" and "influential" fellow like Mr. Shreve would be speaking up, if these donation transactions were on the "up and up." Perhaps his lawyer, Blain Johnson (who's also keeping his lip buttoned,) has counseled Shreve to keep his mouth shut.

Next, here's a story tidbit that jumped out at us. Boss Godfrey flatly denies that his campaign received any 2007 Envision Ogden contributions:
Godfrey said he also didn't get any campaign donations from Envision Ogden and FNURE, but might have accepted funds if the two groups had offered them because of their support for high-adventure recreation.
"I'm willing to accept campaign funds from groups that I agree with," he said. "I certainly agree with recreation."
Notwithstanding Godfrey's denial, we'll refer our readers to Envision Ogden's own IRS Form 8872 - Political Organization Report of Contributions and Expenditures, dated 12/31/07, which bears this highly revealing and conflicting notation (See Schedule B [Expenditures] line item 23):
Recipient's name, mailing address and ZIP code Name of recipient's employer Amount of Expenditure
SOS Staffing NA $ 1184
3025 Washington Blvd Recipients's occupation Date of expenditure
Ogden, UT 84401 NA 09/12/2007
Purpose of expenditure
Mayoral campaign signs [Emphasis added]
In view of this strikingly incongruous information, perhaps the Godfrey campaign will be filing its own belatedly amended campaign finance disclosure form in the very near future, in a manner similar to Godfrey cohorts Eccles and Johnson.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to Mr. Schwebke this morning for the fine reporting. Hopefully this won't be the last story in what's turning out to be a highly illuminating investigative journalism series.

Comments anyone?


what would jesus say said...

Good Job Schwebke, and kudos to you Rudi, we soould not drop the ball on the developments that have come to light by our ever persistant D.Schroeder.

It's is interesting that Schwebke, keeps failing to point out that the funds were raised using City owned property, and also the fact that now Godfrey has been caught in another lie, his campaign did recieve funds from Envision Ogden.

Lies, lies lies.
When will it ever end?

what would jesus say said...

Oh, one other thing that I noticed, Preston McKonkie made a pretty good haul from Envision Ogden for web site expenses. I would think that $10220 for web site is pretty high given my experiences at web site building.

Does any one know what Preston has to do with all of this? Why are his talents worth so much?

Curmudgeon said...

Well, well, well. Curiouser and curiouser, as they say. Mr. Shreve has gone to ground. After apparently having had a lot to say to Ms. Ardema, he now has nothing to say to anyone. Donors to Envison Ogden say they had no idea their money would end up funding election campaigns for Council candidates or the Mayor. Mr. Lucas, the accountant from Morgan who is treasurer of Envision Ogden, says he has no idea how Envision Ogden decided which Council candidates to give money to. He just wrote checks to whoever Mr. Shreve told him to write checks to, and no questions asked: "Abe would tell me to pay for it," he said. "That's what I did." He was just following orders. Mr. Johnson got those "just following orders" donations Mr. Lucas made on behalf of Envision Ogden --- some of it directly, and more washed through something called "Friends of Northern Utah Real Estate," which, Mr. Johnson insists was a legit outfit but whose members he nevertheless refuses to name. For organizations everyone involved insists were legit and for actions the same all insist were perfectly above-board and proper, there's an awful lot of refusing to name, refusing to comment and claiming "I was just following orders" going on.

Hizzonah says his campaign did not get money from Envision Godfrey but that he would have taken money if they'd offered it to him because "I certainly agree with recreation." Uh huh. Of course, Envision Ogden seems to think it did contribute funds to Godfrey's re-election campaign, paying for election campaign services.

Mr. Shreve had better come out of hiding long enough to talk to the Mayor, and the Mayor had better talk to Mr. Lucas. The boys need to get their stories straight. Their explanations are starting to contradict each other and unravel.

OgdenLover said...

Was this a deliberate or accidental typo?
Hizzonah says his campaign did not get money from Envision Godfrey...In either case, it's pretty good.

Curmudgeon said...

OL: Freudian slip? [grin]

summers eve said...

I have a few questions, and observations about Envision Ogden. Dan, do you know if the organization has filed any other IRS Form 8872 - Political Organization Report of Contributions and Expenditures since the 12/31/07 one filed?

Also I noticed that the Envision Ogden still has an active web site, however it has nothing new posted for quite some time. They still have advertisers on their site, so they are still racking in money from the advertisers. Here is a list of ad costs. This just makes one wonder, who is paying the bills for an outdated web site, and they are still raking in money from advertisers?

Curmudgeon said...

Comment bumped to main page

dan s. said...

summers eve,

No, Envision Ogden hasn't filed any later IRS disclosure forms. The IRS requires disclosure forms only when an organization handles more than $25,000 in a calendar year. It's pretty clear that EO wasn't that active in 2008. EO did file a form with the Utah lieutenant governor's office in December 2008, disclosing its $2000 contribution to Jeremy Peterson.

blackrulon said...

It seems obivious that Envision Ogden funds promote recreation. If you take their money you jump through hoops, push their agenda and carry their water. If you get enjoyment from researching the money trail you could consider that a type of indoor recreation. Perhaps we should exercise better research and trail the money.

Machster said...

Dear Candidate:

This is a reminder email from the Salt Lake Board of REALTORS® Government Affairs Committee, inviting you to participate in our 2008 candidate interview process. We will be conducting candidate interviews on Friday, April 11th from 9:00am to 1:00pm noon at the REALTOR® Campus at 230 West Towne Ridge Parkway in Sandy.

There are three slots available: 9:00am, 12:00 pm, and 12:20pm.

If you are able to attend during one of these times, please call or email me so I can get your interview scheduled. Based on the results of the candidate interview, the Salt Lake Board of REALTORS® Government Affairs Committee will give endorsements, financial contributions, and other campaign assistance to candidates we consider to be friendly to the real estate industry.

I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks and have a great day!

Christina Robey

Receptionist/Government Affairs Assistant

Salt Lake Board of REALTORS®
Ph: 801-542-8840 Fax: 801-542-8841
email: Christina@saltlakeboard

This goes on all across Utah including here in Weber County. The Utah Realtor Association and its tennacles reach into every election at every level: municipal, county and state...and thus pollute and distort the political process.

And they the URA are not alone, just by far the largest. Just thought you might want to know.

monotreme said...

Mr. Shreve may have "gone to ground", so to speak, but he is still around if you know where to look for him:

A 36 year old by the name of Abraham Shreve finished the Salt Lake City Half Marathon in 2:25:37, finishing 216/247 in his age class and 3091/4125 overall. The SLC Half start was at 7 am on Saturday, April 18 so he can't say he was out of town. He's just not returning Mr. Schwebke's phone calls.

danny said...

Here's what happened.

As we know, Aardema narrowly lost to Johnson. Why? Well it's the same reason Envision Ogden (EO)was offering them both money: Because Aardema failed to differentiate herself from Godfrey. EO figured they were covering their bases by slushing both candidates. And we know that Johnson himself (harcore godfreyite that he was) tried to separate himself from Godfrey in the election, and that's why he was able to narrowly win.

These things are all connected. Take note candidates - if you want to be elected to the city council this fall, all you have to do is say you want to support the good things going on but want to keep an eye on Godfrey and head off some of his flawed ideas, and you will win.

(Cut and paste for your campaign brocure.)

danny said...

Oh, and very good work from Schwebke. If he keeps going like this, it won't be six months before he gets a better job offer.

Bill C. said...

Envision godfrey, nice twist, highly accurate. He formed it and had his own pay-pal handle the money. I find it quite humorous that if, as he claims, it's about recreation, why was such a huge amount turned over to an entity called "friends of northern Utah realestate"? Just what constitutes a friend of realestate? Cheering for gadi leshem? Renting from a slumlord? Getting g-train hooked up with 22 yr. old kids at the local clubs? Recreation?

Tell Us More said...

Please expand in your comment about the G-Train and 22 year olds please!

the lovely jennifer said...

Why do I think of manure every time I see the acronym FNURE?


OgdenLover said...

Speaking of G-Train, she still has Lift Ogden signs displayed in her windows at TerraVenture Real Estate. Or is that TerrorVenture?

For Sensible Government said...

I have agreed with your comments and think that you are really on target, but I do take exception to your comments about Candidate Aardema. I talked with her several times during her campaign and never felt nor even received the impression that she was on the fence or agreed with any of Godfrey’s hair brained ideas. She is a straight arrow! I feel that she was the victim of Godfrey’s unethical campaign tactics, ie, his brother, Jason, was a “poll watcher” who lives in another city, overstepped his rights as a poll watcher and breeched poll watcher protocol by greeting voters in his former stake as “Brother” and “Sister.” There was limited space at Taylor school and he was everywhere with an intimidating presence. She was a victim of the scheme to turn anti-Godfrey voters away – even her own kids were turned away and not allowed to vote even though they lived and were registered in that voting precinct. That was the polling place where the judges said that they didn’t have pens for voters to fill out the “Conditional Ballot” which required that it be completed in ink! These are the conditions by which Johnson was declared the successful candidate. If he had any decency and a conscience, he would resign from the council especially with the illegal campaign funds that he didn’t originally report!

For Sensible Government said...


I loved your play on words! So true!

G-Train isn't above doing whatever it takes to sell a listing. She and Johnson add to the stench that eminates in downtown Ogden.

Godfrey and his pals, convicted felons Southwick and Leshem and in the near future Scott Brown, have already tainted Ogden along with G-Train and Johnson.

During the next two city elections, voters should clean up Ogden politics. Of couse the council will have to take care of G-Train abd remove her from the LandMarks Commission when her term needs to be renewed, unless Godfrey overrides the Council's input as he did with Godfreyite Lohmiller.

Curmudgeon said...

For Sensible:

While Mr. Southwick has been convicted of a felony, I don't think Mr. Lesham has. And it is wrong, I think, to characterize anyone as a "future" convicted felon.

As for appointments to the Landmarks Commission, I don't think the Council does the appointing. The Mayor makes nominations. The Council, I think, can approve or reject the Mayor's nominees, but the Council itself cannot directly appoint members to it. Or so I think.

Wants Sensible Government said...


I didn't say the Council did the appointing! You need new glasses or back off your enthusiastic criticism of WCF posters who aren't apparently as smart as you, "Professor."

Wants SensibleGovernment said...


Gadi Leshem was convicted of tax fraud in California last year.

RudiZink said...

Ahem, WSG! That's entirely incorrect.

Leshem's corporation was convicted of one count of tax fraud last year. In his individual capacity, Mr. Leshem emerged from his ordeal in the California Courts scot free!

This is NOT a minor distinction.

Please try to keep clear on the facts.

WCF Poster said...

You must be as tired of Curmudgeon's "holier than thou even-handed" criticism. Thanks for saying to Curmudgeon what most of us feel.

Bill C. said...

To what degree is a no contest plea considered the same as guilty? Close?

RudiZink said...

Gadi didn't enter a "no contest" plea, Bill. His corporation entered a "nolo" plea; Gadi and his other "individual" co-defendants "walked."I'm all for freewheeling discussion here at WCF. Buts lets all try to keep the facts straight.


Wnats Sensible Government said...


So Gadi manipulates the law just like Godfrey -- make sure others take the blame.

You're welcome, WCFP.

Bill C. said...

Ok Rudi, gadi's corporation pleaded no contest, and gadi made a presonal guarantee on the penalty. That's how Moultin wrote it up.

RudiZink said...

That's right, Bill. Gadi is on the hook civilly; but the court didn't stick him with indicividual "criminal culpability."

Gadi has been criminally convicted of NOTHING, as a result of the now concluded criminal proceedings.

Bill C. said...

I believe Schwebke needs to further clarify on a little detail in his latest article. He stated that Envision Ogden listed 55 donors totalling $87,342, this is technically incorrect. The 55 donors represent donations execding the reporting limit. We still don't know the total raked in during the godfrey sponsered Sneak Peak event as the entry fee was less than $50.
Odds are that the lion's share of the laundered money was raised in the sneak peak due to zero overhead costs, the city funded everything. The dinner did have catering fees and such. I wonder if those poor guys that went broke on the Ben Lomand Hotel were paid for their facility?

History is truth! said...

If the Mayor and Mr Schreeve have nothing to hide and I mean Nothing,
Then they should call a public press conference and let the truth be known at it and clear the air. This should be done with every one that may have knowledge of what happened and who all was involved. The new county attorney should be there and then we will get to the bottom of all the corruption and get to the the truth.
The paper could hold this open to the public and advertise it in advance so that plenty of people would be able to come forward.

Curmudgeon said...

Wants Sensible Govt:

You wrote: Of course the council will have to take care of G-Train abd remove her from the LandMarks Commission when her term needs to be renewed, unless Godfrey overrides the Council's input as he did with Godfreyite Lohmiller. Seemed to me you were suggesting the Council could do more than simply reject a Godfrey nominee. If I mis-read your comment, or read more into it than you intended, I apologize.

Curmudgeon said...

WCF Poster

If you disagree with anything I post here... or that anyone else does for that matter... weigh in. It's an open forum.

dan s. said...


You're right about the count of 55 not including small contributions (under $200). The total of all such contributions was $16,885.

If you go through the disclosure statement you can get a pretty good idea of which expenses were associated with which event. The revenue isn't always so clear, but it's starting to sound like some of the major contributions (e.g., Qwest) that came in months later were still supposed to be for the February dinner.

The disclosure statement lists a $3000 contribution from the Ben Lomond Hotel which exactly matches a $3000 payment to the Ben Lomond on the same date. So I would imagine that this was an in-kind contribution of use of the facility. There's an additional payment of $1400 to the Ben Lomond, so they did make a little money off the event. And they may have gotten other returns on their investment. Remember that Godfrey held his election night party there.

Wants Sensible Government said...

History Is Truth,

I agree with your concept, the only thing is that Godfrey doesn't know that he's lying -- he's a compulsive liar and lied for so long that it's impossible for him to tell the truth.

Jiminy Cricket said...

Help me remind our friend Abraham to return his phone calls.

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