"I'll have to step away from all of these," he said.
Broadband Council member Dana Waldo, general manager of Frontier Communications, also has a potential conflict.
A Pendleton County-based group called Future Generations has proposed offering discounted broadband service -- provided by Frontier at $9.95 a month -- to rural customers in Mason, McDowell, Pendleton, Logan and Mingo counties.
State lawmakers established the broadband council and set aside the grant money for broadband expansion projects four years ago.
Since then, the council has developed rules for distributing the funds and identified rural areas where affordable high-speed Internet service isn't available.
The broadband council plans to select project winners and distribute the $4 million at a Dec. 12 meeting.
In the meantime, an application review committee is wading through applications with the Pennsylvania-based consulting firm. L.R. Kimball plans to rank the projects from best to worst.
"We have to look at the sustainability of projects, and the prices of projects," Fisher said. "We're working through these to see how they stack up. There's a lot of data, a lot of content.
Fisher said Kimball's assistance helps to take politics out of the selection process. The state Ethics Commission also has given the green light to the council's process, despite board members' ties with three of the five groups or companies applying for the $4 million.
"It's the fairest and most objective way to do it," Fisher said. "We have to be very careful about keeping ourselves out of any conflict, or even the potential for a conflict of interest."
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.