If you’re into good government, the advantage of having wealthy Senators or cabinet members is that they might be less likely to position themselves for a big K Street cashout afterwards. The disadvantage: wealthy people have many, large, diverse investments, thus creating many conflicts of interest.
Senator and Secretary of State nominee John Kerry, for instance, owns shares in a Canadian company standing to profit from construction of the Keystone Pipeline, in many green-energy companies that could profit from global climate-change agreements, and in Brazilian oil giant Petrobras, which receives U.S. subsidies.
This Boston Globe article walks through the ethical minefield of a rich man becoming Secretary of State:
Senator John F. Kerry and his wife hold an array of international investments that could pose conflicts of interest for him as secretary of state, and an ethics review is already underway to determine whether he needs to divest holdings, put them in a blind trust, or recuse himself from some discussions, according to Obama administration officials.
I wonder why these investments weren’t more of a big deal when Senator Kerry was, say, supporting green-energy subsidies and reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.