What some have described as a “citizen legislature” approach to governance in the United States means that the overwhelming majority of members of Congress have private business interests. Inevitably, some of what they do affects their personal finances.

Quite a few of them have benefited from massive programs meant to curb damage to the economy from business and social restrictions linked to the COVID-19 crisis.

At least a dozen lawmakers are linked to companies and organizations that received money through the Paycheck Protection Program, The Associated Press reports. The PPP is a $659 billion initiative aimed at providing the private sector with funds it can use to keep on the payroll employees who otherwise would have been laid off due to COVID-19 slowdowns and shutdowns. It has helped millions of working men and women.

It also has been good for their employers.

Last week, the government released some details on recipients of PPP funds. High-profile beneficiaries included a hotel owned in part by the husband of House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Also, a shipping business owned by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s family received PPP aid. Her husband is U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Several other lawmakers have links to firms and organizations that received PPP money.

In addition, business interests linked to a number of governors have landed help from the PPP.

Is all that evidence of widespread corruption in government?

Of course not. Government has become such a pervasive part of the economy that it would be surprising if local, state and federal funds often did not benefit office holders.

But, especially when high-ranking officials are involved, oversight is essential to ensure wrongdoing did not occur.

There are two keys to such monitoring:

One is whether insider information was utilized, as has been alleged regarding a few members of Congress and stock trading in the epidemic’s initial stages. Profiting from information not available to the general public is wrong ­— and illegal in most cases.

Another red flag is intervention. When public officials use their power and influence to steer public funds to personal interests, wrongdoing occurs.

Clearly, federal watchdogs need to look into each and every case in which lawmakers or others in government benefited from PPP spending.

If wrongdoing occurred, those responsible should be punished as severely as permitted under the law.

(7) comments

Jim McCarthy

Hey, Star, you forgot to mention that the Treasury Secretary initially refused to divulge the names of recipients. While the 0.02% of Congressfolk may have benefitted, a larger share of the funds were distributed to campaign donors. Others on this thread seek term limits and increased disclosure of finances of officials. Hopefully, that demand applies to the incumbent President. Perspective and proportion are essential qualities to reform. Those qualities are the responsibility of the Star.

Spock Here

Shameful stuff. Term limits now. And firing the person responsible for oversight wasn't a great thing to do.

Conservative

Agreed. And all elected officials should be required to have all of their investments converted to U.S. bonds until their time in office is over.

ralcabin

Agreed, especially term limits, these people shouldn't be able to stay in office for years.

Dadof3

We have term limits already. They are called elections. Representatives have a two year term in office, Senators have a six year term, and Presidents and Vice Presidents Have a four year term. Seems to me term limits are not the problem, the electorate just needs to be more active in making changes.

ralcabin

No, they can continuously be reelected to office, Pelosi, for instance, started her 17th term in 2019. There needs to be limits on the number of years they can serve in totality.

Doc Samson

@Dad - And in a time before the Left "owned" 90% of the media and dominated the public school curriculum that might have been possible. Ever watched "Idiocracy"? Low info voters are not conducive to change... on either side, unfortunately.

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