Pinney Associates received $146,000 from the center in 2019. But in 2020, a new entity appeared on the center’s tax return: B&C Strategies, paid $237,500.
The AKA also paid B&C Strategies $137,000, in 2019, according to its tax return.
Like Haddow’s HPNA, B&C Strategies is not incorporated. But it shares an address with Utah state Senator Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, who helped shepherd the AKA’s model legislation into law in the Beehive State.
“I have been doing international business consulting for better than 30 years,” Bramble said in a phone interview, explaining the kratom industry payments as routine.
Bramble, who has served in the Utah Senate since 2001, sponsored the Kratom Consumer Protection Act and helped Utah become the first state to pass the industry’s bill. “I didn’t know what kratom was until I was asked at a national meeting if I knew anything about it.” he said as he introduced the bill in January 2019.
He called the industry-written law’s requirements for an age limit on purchasers and routine product testing by independent labs “common sense.”
“It wasn’t illegal. Let’s at least establish a baseline” for safe consumption, Bramble said.
After Bramble helped pass the law, Haddow asked him to help strategize for the industry on international business practices. “I wanted to see firsthand the supply chain, in terms of due diligence. See how the product was harvested and processed,” Bramble said, adding his travel on behalf of the kratom industry has taken him “to Indonesia twice…Borneo… we’ve had discussions in Europe. Mexico.”
Bramble, who operates a solo accounting firm,called the $374,500 in kratom consulting fees a “small, small part” of his income.
Utah’s ethics law forbids legislators from “any employment or other activity that would destroy or impair their independence of judgment,” “to lobby, consult, or to further the interests of any legislation or legislative matter,” or to “use their official position to secure privileges for themselves.”
When put to her as a hypothetical, Kim Bouck, executive director of the Legislative Ethics Commission, said Bramble’s behavior might run afoul of the law. But the commission cannot take any action unless two citizens file a complaint, at which point the commission would review the evidence, investigate further if needed and give a recommendation to the Legislature.
Kathleen Clark, a law professor and ethics expert at The Washington University in St. Louis, expressed surprise that Utah law does not require Bramble to publicly disclose the kratom payments.
“Those payments may influence him and the public …….