Imagine the outcry from shareholders if a top executive of a company was also on the payroll of two of the company’s suppliers. Hell, legislative hearings have been convened on lesser conflicts of interest. Fortunately, this isn’t the latest business scandal. Unfortunately, however, it is how things are often done in politics these days. This story chronicles an unfolding melodrama in Alabama, where the House Majority Leader, Rep. Ken Guinn, was on the payroll of two state taxpayer-supported community colleges. The two schools paid Rep. Guinn almost $100,000 a year at the same time that he held considerable sway over the state budget. What exactly Rep. Guinn did for the colleges is unclear, although news sources report that one of the school’s leaders noted that Rep. Guinn “has brought in more money for the college than he’s been paid.” Well. No doubt, any state appropriation to these schools was fully vetted and found to be in the best interests of the taxpayers. I’m certain their case for taxpayer funds will be equally strong without a Majority Leader on the payroll.
Michael Flynn is Director of Government Affairs for the Reason Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank whose mission is to advance a free society by developing, applying, and promoting libertarian principles, including individual liberty, free markets, and the rule of law.