Legislators’ day jobs

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What do a state legislator and an aspiring actor have in common?

Neither one can afford to quit his day job — and that can be bad news for the public. A new report from the CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY charges that the personal and professional ties to industry maintained by many state legislators make them ripe for conflicts of interest.

Unlike congressional seats, most state legislative positions are part-time, with average annual salaries of only $18,000. That’s generally not enough to pay the bills, so most legislators have some other job as well, and all too often that job is in an industry regulated by the state legislature.

Some legislators argue that this makes for better law: Who better to regulate an industry than someone who knows it? Maybe so, but some of that law-making makes you wonder. Two legislators in Nebraska pushed for legislation to increase compensation to lottery retailers, taking the money from funds earmarked to pay for education, the environment, and even treatment programs for gambling addiction. The legislators were themselves lottery retailers.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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