State lawmakers blur line between public, personal interests

An analysis by The Associated Press and Center for Public Integrity found numerous examples around the country of state lawmakers voting on bills that ended up benefiting their own business interests.

The news organizations reviewed legislative records and the financial disclosure forms for nearly 7,000 lawmakers to identify potential conflicts of interest.

A lawmaker in Nevada, for example, voted at least six times this year to advance bills benefiting clients of the law firm where he works as director of client relations.

Such actions do not necessarily represent a conflict of interest as defined by the states. That’s because legislatures set their own rules for when lawmakers should recuse themselves.

Many lawmakers defend votes that benefit their businesses or industries, saying they bring important expertise to the debate.

A reporting partnership between The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity.