SALT LAKE CITY -- A left-leaning organization is calling on legislators who are real estate developers by profession to distance themselves from any involvement in a potential prison relocation plan in Draper.
In a statement released this weekend, the Alliance for a Better Utah said in the interest of transparency, at least 21 members of the Legislature who work in the development arena should declare a conflict of interest and distance themselves from any relocation plan.
The relocation of the state's prison in Draper would open up nearly 700 acres for potential development. An appraiser valued the property at $130 million.
The ABU release called out Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, among others for his real estate and development ties.
"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. Since Utah law does not allow legislators to abstain from voting, those same legislators should prohibit themselves, through code, from engaging in any real estate doings that result from the prison move," the release said.
Niederhauser and other Republican leaders bristled when the issue was raised at a Friday press conference.
Niederhauser said he doesn't stand to profit personally from any prison relocation plan. He said his company does own property located approximately four miles from the prison but said it will probably be developed by early 2015, far before any prison relocation has been initiated.
Another lawmaker with development ties, Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, wondered why a developer involved with the possible relocation of the prison would be called out any more than a doctor dealing with Medicaid or a lawyer dealing with legislation impacting the legal process.