WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter has made clear that he would like nothing more than a seat on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee when Congress reconvenes in the new year.
The placement is a highly prized one. The committee is one of the last remaining legislative powerhouses on Capitol Hill, with a wide jurisdiction over health care, energy, manufacturing and telecommunications. Big donors tend to come with it.
And as Carter, R-Pooler, notes in his pitch to colleagues, Energy and Commerce oversees prescription drug price increases and the user fees aimed at expediting the review of pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
That fact has raised questions among good government advocates about whether conflicts of interest would arise should Carter, a pharmacist before he was elected to Congress, be appointed to the panel, since his wife now owns his old businesses.
“There’s certainly what is defined as conflict of interest by law and there’s conflict of interest by common sense,” said William Perry, head of Georgia Ethics Watchdogs, “and what Buddy Carter’s doing violates most people’s common sense understanding of conflict of interest and ethics.”