I just took 40 hours of Federal Fiscal Law as refresher training. The biggest takeaway is always the optics of the government getting rich because of having a position of authority. For me, its contracts. I can’t receive a kick back for awarding a contract. I can’t be offered employment by a contractor without lots of rules and reporting in place. I can’t accept gifts of more than $20 with a maximum of $50 in a given year from a single entity. And, for the most part, if the gift would appear as favoritism to any normal citizen, it is frowned upon to accept. We can’t buy and trade stocks based on insider information that we get from our position when we are involved with regulation/deregulation and other aspects of commerce. The bottom line is, congress authorizes funds to serve a purpose, we cannot accept volunteer or unpaid efforts to complete the mission, and we must accomplish that mission with the trust of the taxpayer.
But, do you ever wonder how a career politician can have mansions, retreats in the Hamptons, fancy cars, and jet-setting lifestyles when they were never gainfully employed in a non-government position? Given Federal Fiscal Law, we aren’t supposed to accept benefit from our position as a government employee. Yes, a congress-person makes a living wage, but nothing of a millionaire lifestyle. Yet, many of our congress-people are millionaires having never worked in the private sector. They have huge McMansions with wait staff and heating and AC when they rarely even live there.
The hypocrisy of it all baffles me. And for the little guy like me, it would be downright illegal. But then again, I don’t make the rules. They do!