Bart Barker says a consulting business he plans to run from the basement of his house will not interfere with his duties as chairman of the Salt Lake County Commission.
But a fellow commissioner said Tuesday he thinks Barker's business may keep him from devoting full time to the public's interests."When you start thinking, as a public servant, of ways to start supplementing your income, then it's time to get out," Commissioner Dave Watson said.
Barker's new business, Politech Services Co., will help political candidates set up computer systems that aid campaigns. Barker said he likes to work with computers and has learned much about them during his three successful campaigns.
"I've never met a salesman who knew as much about what I'm doing as I do," he said. "I don't have a degree in data processing or political science. I just have experience."
Although he earns $62,397yearly as a commissioner, Barker needs extra money to pay for the recent adoption of a baby from Colombia, he said. Barker and his wife paid more than $7,000 to arrange for the adoption and to travel to Colombia to get the child.
Because of the business, Barker filed a disclosure of private business interestwith the county earlier this week. But, he said, the disclosure wasn't necessary.
"I just did it to be on the safe side," he said. "I have done everything so carefully to avoid even the hint of a conflict of interest."
Barker, a Republican, said he also will give political advice to candidates retaining his services. Although he has no clients as yet, Barker said, he would accept business from people such as M. Tom Shimizu, if asked.
"I hope all the big candidates will be my clients," he said.
Shimizu, a Republican, has announced he will challenge Watson, a Democrat, in November's general election.
Although critical of the new venture, Watson said he doesn't think it merits much attention.
"I have nothing against what he (Barker) is doing, and I don't think anyone should try to make a big deal out of it," he said.
Barker said he installed a separate telephone line into his house for the business. He will avoid consulting from his office at the Salt Lake County Government Center, but he will accept calls there from clients.
He said he will not represent clients who are vying for county contracts, at least not as long as he is a commissioner. He may, however, consult for small businesses.