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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Senate Ethics Fantasy

Paul Kane notes that many legislators who will be reforming the health care sector have personal stakes being shareholders of corporations involved in health care. It does create "the appearance of a conflict of interest" which can be translated into English as "a conflict of interest." To say there is a conflict of interest does not imply that the saintly legislator pays any attention to his or her financial interests when legislating.

Nothing to be done, however "many legal experts say the health-care industry is so predominant that it is impossible for lawmakers to avoid financial ties to that sector,"

My my "impossible" is a strong word. The legal experts evidently think that it is not possible to liquidate all of one's assets and invest the proceeds in treasury bonds. Nothing forces a senator to own a share of common stock. If they were determined to avoid conflict of interest, they could. They just don't want to pay the price.

So my fantasy rule of the senate is "no senator may own financial assets other than treasury bonds, nor may any member of any senators nuclear family. No senator may be a partner, owner or have any interest in any enterprise nor can any member of any senators nuclear family. At the start of each session, each senator shall either a) swear under penalty of perjury that he or she and his or her nuclear family are abiding by these rules or b) resign from the senate.

Sounds constitutional to me. Of course there would be a huge devastating side effect. On election day, many freshperson senators have massive and complex financial holdings which can only be liquidated in 2 months by selling a fire sale prices.

Thus my proposed rule would impose a huge penalty on multimillionaires who choose to be senators.

And wouldn't that be such a damn shame.

Why if there's one thing I like about the senate, it's that so many senators are multi-millionaires and that the first amendment protects the rights of multi-millionaires who want to self finance senate campaigns.

I think my proposed rule achieves another distinction -- passage of such a rule is the least likely political event that I can imagine.

A horse in the senate ? Been there done that. Senators forced to liquidate their financial holdings ? Fuggedaboutit.

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