Buddy Carter accused of having conflict of interest | savannahnow.com


Buddy Carter accused of having conflict of interest | savannahnow.com

Walter Jones, with Morris News, gives a good, unbiased look at a complicated topic.

ATLANTA — The frontrunner in the race for the open congressional seat along the coast is under attack for sponsoring a bill as a legislator that could benefit his industry.

An Atlanta television station aired a story Wednesday night addressing Sen. Buddy Carter’s Senate Bill 408 that would add requirements on insurance companies which could make mail-order pharmacies lose some of their price advantage. Carter, a Pooler Republican who owns three drug stores, is the top fundraiser and the leader in polls for the First District’s six-man GOP primary to replace U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston.

By morning, political partisans had emailed links to the story to reporters across the state. In it, Carter is shown on camera saying “it’s borderline” when asked if his sponsorship was a conflict of interest.

Thursday, he was certain it wasn’t.

“It was not a conflict of interest at all. This is just another example of the biased media attacking conservatives,” he told Morris News.

Carter said the bill is good for consumers. It would require insurance companies to update more often the maximum price they will pay for specific medicines.

Brick-and-mortar pharmacies like Carter owns operate with less of a profit margin than mail-order giants which can absorb drug makers’ prices increases better than the independent stores. He said quicker adjustments in the maximum price to reflect rises from drug makers would put the small stores on a more even footing with their large competitors.

But according to the senator, his stores would benefit no more than any other.

That is an important distinction, according to other legislators. Rules of the House and Senate prohibit lawmakers from doing anything that would benefit them or their families directly.

“A bill that benefits all pharmacies is not a problem,” said Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans.

But with part-time legislators who have full-time jobs in the private sector, they would miss many votes if they avoided every bill that affects them or their industry.

“You can’t have a part-time legislature and expect us to work and not be involved with bills on subjects we know the most about,” Harbin said.

For instance, many legislators serve on the boards of local banks, leaving few who could vote on bank legislation under a strict interpretation of conflict prohibitions.

“This came up for us many times,” said Rick Thompson, a former director of the state ethics commission. “There is absolutely nothing in the law that says you can’t do that.”

via Buddy Carter accused of having conflict of interest | savannahnow.com.

Comments ( 0 )