Questions of conflict of interest with a Georgia congressman Rep. Buddy Carter

- A Georgia Congressman, who is a licensed pharmacist, says bills he co-sponsored will help pharmacy patients across the country.

But, will those bills also help Representative Buddy Carter or his family?

The Issue

The House Ethics Manual says a Congressman "should not in any way use their office for private gain."

Buddy Carter owned independent pharmacies in South Georgia before he was elected as 1st District Congressman.

He says he transferred ownership to his wife.

Carter then cosponsored two bills that could help an independent pharmacy owner financially.

The Congressman

Congressman Carter told us he had no concerns about a potential conflict of interest, because the bills were already written when he was elected.

He said the bills would benefit patients and would he not admit they could also benefit independent pharmacists.

He also told us the House Ethics Committee gave him approval to co-sponsor the bills. He said he would share that opinion with us.

Later, his staff sent me an email stating "Congressman Carter received verbal approval from the Ethics Committee."

Government Watchdog

Brinkley Serkedekis, director of good government group, Common Cause, disagrees.

“You can have legislation that benefits patients but it also financially benefits you,” she told us. “To take an active stance as an advocate, as a co-sponsor for that legislation as a member of congress, you do find yourself in a situation where there is a conflict of interest.”

She says even if Rep. Carter transferred ownership of his pharmacy to his wife, he’s still potentially benefiting from the passage of the bills and it is a “clear violation of the spirit of this law.”

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