Take conflicts of interest out of farm payouts
Occasionally, members of Congress become ensnared in technicalities in ethics rules. Some have been criticized officially for potential conflicts of interest involving personal businesses that might be affected by bills upon which the lawmakers vote.
What about measures providing billions of dollars in payments each year to farmers and big businesses that happen to own agriculture-related companies?
No problem, apparently.
Taxpayer subsidies for farm-related businesses have been controversial for many years. It has been pointed out that of the $13.2 billion in such payments last year, millions went to entertainers, urban business people and others who never set foot on real farms.
Add to that list 33 members of Congress, 12 of whom got farm subsidy checks last year, according to studies by the Environmental Working Group and OpenTheBooks.
From 1995-2016, 33 lawmakers raked in $15.3 million in farm subsidies. Just since 2015, U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., collected $1.27 million. LaMalfa happens to be a member of the House Agriculture Committee, which plays a key role in legislation such as that involving farm subsidies.
Ethics rules certainly do have to be enforced. But how is it that so many members of Congress are not even slapped on the wrist for the clear conflict of interest involved in voting on farm subsidies that are enriching some of them?
Welcome to Washington, the hypocrisy capital of the world.