Nov 28, 2008

Public service and private profit

A Los Angeles Times inquiry has found a quarter of California's legislators work outside the Capitol and "have routinely voted on legislation that affects their private income." From the LAT:
...30 of the state's 120 legislators own businesses or hold other outside jobs, according to their most recent statements of economic interest, and some earn more income away from the Capitol than from the public payroll. They own such enterprises as car dealerships, farms, insurance companies, a plastics firm and a real estate appraisal firm. They work in law, agriculture, health insurance and other medical fields.
Two of the lawmakers highlighted in the story are from the San Gabriel Valley. Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park, works for a law firm that does work for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Assemblyman Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, is an opthomologist with a private practice in La Puente.

Legislators are paid $150,000 a year - more if they hold leadership positions - to ensure they don't need to seek outside income. But conflict-of-interest rules allow them to vote on issues that affect their businesses:
California allows legislators to cast votes affecting their industries or professions as long as the measures apply generally and do not affect only one company or agency.

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