In his blog post yesterday — appropriately entitled "Congressional Conflict of Interest" — my colleague Chris Edwards questioned the selection of Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) to head the Senate Agriculture Committee:
Lincoln has been "a tireless advocate for the Arkansas rice industry' and a 'champion for agriculture." You can see what 20 or so other agriculture lobby groups say about Lincoln here. These are very laudatory remarks, but what about the taxpayers? What do taxpayers think about her support for the $20 billion or so in annual giveaways to farmers?
I wonder what taxpayers think about the fact that Senator Lincoln and her family have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in farm subsidies?
From a 2007 USA Today article:
Members of Congress must report sources of income totaling more than $200, but most get payments through partnerships or other entities, so it can be difficult to learn which ones receive the subsidies. Recipients are searchable by name on www.ewg.org, but, for example, payments to Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., are listed under her maiden name, Lambert, at a Virginia address near Washington. Records show Lincoln and her family members collected $715,000 from 1995-2005, the most recent year complete data are available. She said she personally received less than $10,000 a year, and the subsidies ended in 2005 when her land was sold.
Let's say I force a stranger under threat of imprisonment or violence to part with part of his or her paycheck, and proceed to give that money to a friend. I would rightly be labeled a thief or worse. Suppose I not only gave the money to my friend, but kept a cut for me and my family. That would be even worse.
But when politicians do it we call them "public servants"?