Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Rube Render
Columnist 

One of these things is not like the others

 


According to Wikipedia, “A conflict of interest exists if the circumstances are reasonably believed (on the basis of past experience and objective evidence) to create a risk that a decision may be unduly influenced by other, secondary interests, and not on whether a particular individual is actually influenced by a secondary interest.”

Reading this carefully tells me that the appearance of a conflict of interest is, de facto, a conflict of interest.

According to the King James Bible, Matthew, 6:24: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” I think Matthew nails it.

Scenario one: The governor of a small southern state is married to a woman who has a law degree from a prestigious eastern university. The governor mentions to his friend, who happens to head the largest law firm in the state, that his wife is seeking employment. This law firm does several million dollars’ worth of business with the state each year. The governor’s wife applies for work with the law firm and is hired. Is this a conflict of interest?

Scenario two: A senator serves on the committee that oversees the activity of the communications industry. The senator’s wife is a registered lobbyist and has the XYZ Communications Corporation for a client. Is this a conflict of interest?

Scenario three: A special investigator is appointed to consider whether or not a certain behavior rises to the level of a crime. The chief witness in this investigation is not only a friend of the appointed investigator, he is an extremely close friend who has worked with said special investigator for a number or years and considers this investigator to be something of a mentor. Does this constitute a conflict of interest for the special investigator?

Scenario four: The president of the United States owns a luxury resort hotel in a distant state. Many wealthy and notable people stay at this resort on a regular basis. A wealthy foreign political figure reserves a suite at the hotel. The opposition party claims that this transaction creates a conflict with the emolument clause of the Constitution and thus makes the president a candidate for impeachment. Is this appearance of a conflict valid?

If you ask a worker leaning on a shovel in a ditch these questions, he will probably answer, “Yes,” “Yes,” “Yes” and “Are you serious?”

Rube Render is the Curry County Republican chairman. Contact him at:

rube.render@actsnm.com

 

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