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Washington • Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, sold his majority stake in the Shipley Group, a Farmington-based consulting firm, just days before he was sworn in as the state's newest member of Congress.

He did so out of a concern that maintaining a financial interest in the company would pose an ethical issue since it is a regular government contractor.

"It was tough to sell it, especially under the circumstances. I've enjoyed running the company, but we were just worried about potential conflicts," he told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday.

Stewart and his wife, Evie, sold their interest the last week of December to a group of four younger employees, led by then-Chief Financial Officer James Muirbrook, who has since become Shipley's CEO.

They received $275,000, which Stewart described as a discount because he didn't want the new partners to be saddled with a heavy debt.

"I've completely divested. I've given it to them. They are young men, and I think they will be successful," he said.

Stewart's older brother Rich, his younger brother Mike and his nephew Jeff will continue to work with the company. His father-in-law also has a financial stake in the firm that Stewart first bought in 2000.

Shipley's main business is to provide training for federal workers responsible for assessing the environmental impact of proposed projects. A division of the company called Shipley Tactical also provides training for the military and law enforcement.

mcanham@sltrib.comTwitter: @mattcanham