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Reform group: Declare conflicts of interest in prison move

Published February 22, 2014 7:22 pm

Murky • Wants more disclosure than is now required to avoid prison profiteering.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A reform group is concerned that some legislators could personally profit by developing the site of the state prison in Draper if they decide to move it. So it is calling for them to more fully declare any potential conflicts of interest.

The Alliance for a Better Utah also wants them to change rules to allow abstaining when they have major conflicts, which currently is not allowed by state law.

"All legislators with real-estate ties should publicly declare a conflict of interest on their respective floors before they vote to approve a prison move," the group said in a statement.

That came after The Tribune reported that 21 House members have investments in or other professional ties to real estate and/or development. The House Republican caucus voted Thursday to support moving the prison.

While lawmakers must file written conflict-of-interest statements at the beginning of the session, the group wants them to make verbal declarations to make those conflicts more clear — and also to change rules to allow abstaining.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, sees all that as unnecessary with the current disclosure forms. He is one who previously chose to declare in debates that he is a developer who owns land near the prison, and said he has been targeted as one who might possibly benefit from the move.

"There's been allegations that I have property next to the prison. That is not true. I own property about four miles away," which he said should be fully developed next year.

"So the idea that I'm going to profit from the prison location is just a false idea," Niederhauser added. "I won't own any property there any more by the time this event begins to happen." —

Real-estate Reps?

Twenty-one of the 75 House members are employed, have investments in or other professional ties to real estate and/or development interests.

Here is a list:

Rep. Stuart Barlow. R-Fruit Heights. Physician and business executive, including an investment and real-estate company.

Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Bountiful. Retired, owner of real estate management and development co.

Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City. Has real-estate holdings and husband is a real-estate broker.

Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper. Attorney and developer.

Rep. Rich Cunningham, R-South Jordan. Insurance and manager partner of real estate firm.

Rep. Jack Drexler, R-North Logan. Real-estate appraiser.

Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville. Real estate broker.

Rep. Keith Grover, R-Provo. School administrator, principal in real estate companies.

Rep. Lynn Hemmingway, R-Millcreek. Spouse is a real estate company's office manager.

Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper. Construction, property manager.

Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton. Real estate company manager.

Rep. Kay McIff, R-Richfield. Attorney and partner in real estate management and development company.

Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork. Attorney and property manager.

Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful. Architect and shareholder in real estate and development company.

Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden. Real estate broker.

Rep. Dixon Pitcher, R-Ogden. Business exec., real-estate broker.

Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin. Businessman and owner of real estate and property management company.

Rep. V. Lowry Snow, R-St. George. Attorney, owner of real-estate development firm.

Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem. Attorney, lists real estate and developers as clients.

Rep. Curt Webb, R-Logan. Title insurance co. owner.

Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville. Developer.

Source: Legislative conflict-of-interest forms