One might say that there's inevitably a conflict of interest when it comes to holding a political office or any other since we're all people with individual interests and needs. I could also see how a Congressman could rationalize allowing his personal needs and benefits to dominate his political decision making since, after all, he is a constituent of the district too and has been elected to make these decisions. However, the particular example of Issa examined in the New York Times article seems, safe to say, excessive. I'll summarize some highlights, but read the article to get the full effect which includes earmarks, real estate development, money with Merril Lynch and Goldman Sachs.
Congressman Issa doesn't have a history of the highest ethical standards. Unlike many other politicians who place their assets in blind trusts, such as Rockefeller and Kerry, Issa actively manages his investments. He's also made liberal use of earmarks over the years, like many others in Congress.
More than two dozen of Mr. Issa’s properties are within five miles of projects he has personally earmarked for road work, sanitation and other improvements, an analysis by The Times shows. NY TimesAt least someone in the government is taking notice:
House ethics committee officials quietly inquired into Mr. Issa’s business interests last year because of possible conflicts in his electronics connections. NY TimesDo you think these practices (I'm sure others have similar habits to Mr. Issa) affect our tax burden in a significant way? I'm thinking no, but it irks me that any portion of my tax dollars is spent promoting the interests of a particular. I have an individual right here that I'd like to promote if the money is going to be spent in that manner.
Do you agree with this guy?
“I don’t really blame the guy,” said John Aguilera, a Vista city councilman. “As a politician, that’s his job to bring a slice of the pie back home, and as a businessman, he’s going to invest in the areas that he champions.” NY Times