Tuesday, February 9, 2010
During the tenure of Governor Palin, a whirlwind of ethics complaints blew into the state of Alaska. Both Andree McLeod and Zane Henning were responsible for filing bogus complaints against her. These were an affront to tax paying Alaskans and illustrated a complete disregard for the ethics system.
It would only stand to reason now that the state Legislature would take a good look at the system, hear from those who can give insight into how it can be improved, and follow through. Obviously, it would make sense to talk to the administration that has been so adversely affected by those seeking to abuse the ethic rules. Instead, in their hearings, they actually chose to receive testimony from Andree McLeod and Zane Henning, chief abusers of the system.
Lisa Demer of the ADN reports:
A legislative committee on Monday took up ethics issues that erupted during the Palin administration, but it's not clear whether the panel intends to take any action.
Attorney General Dan Sullivan has proposed state rules establishing when it's appropriate for the state to pay for the travel of family members of the governor or lieutenant governor. Another proposal sets out when the state should pay legal bills for state officials defending against ethics complaints.
Former Gov. Sarah Palin was hit with numerous ethics complaints during her 2 1/2 years in office. She said she quit in part because of what she called frivolous ethics complaints and personal legal bills amounting to an estimated $600,000.
Most of the ethics complaints against Palin were dismissed. But she settled one by reimbursing the state more than $8,000 for her children's air travel.
Oversight comes from the joint House-Senate Administrative Regulation Review Committee, which examines regulations to make sure they are allowed under state law.
The panel agreed to hold a public hearing on the ethics measures after being pushed by Palin critic Andree McLeod. House leaders also requested it, said state Rep. Wes Keller, R-Wasilla, who is the committee chairman.
Under the proposed rules, the state could cover the costs of defending a public official against ethics complaints if the official were exonerated, Assistant Attorney General Judy Bockmon told the committee.
McLeod, who filed a number of ethics complaints against Palin and her staff, urged the committee to reject the changes.
The Executive Branch Ethics Act is important, and the attorney general shouldn't be trying to change the law, another Palin critic, Zane Henning, told the committee. The Legislature should make any needed changes, he said.
The Department of Law has solicited public comment and held a hearing on the ethics changes, Bockmon said. The period for comment has ended and the department must now decide what to do. It could adopt the provisions as is or with minor changes, or let the matter drop with no action.
The committee hasn't yet decided how to proceed, Keller said.
Read the full article here.
So Andree McLeod and Zane Henning, serial complainants who cost the state thousands of tax payer dollars while they played out their hellish vendetta against Governor Palin, somehow are credible sources of information? These two Palin anklebiters, whose complaints were thrown out one after another, are taken seriously, but the legislature doesn't want to hear from the administration itself regarding how these ethics abuses can be solved? What sense does that make?
Clearly, these two can't spot a real ethics violation if it smacked them in the face, so how does their one-sided testimony equate to anything remotely helpful in bringing about true ethics reform? And why can't the legislators see what is so apparent? Allowing these two characters to have a say in ethics rules is like allowing children to decide their own punishment. Don't tell me the legislators don't recognize this. They make it hard to take them or these hearings seriously. It seems, instead, to be more of the same Juneau dog and pony show.
Perhaps legislators' approach has something to do with the fact that their own ethics laws protect them from frivolous complaints. Perhaps it's due to the fact that if a complaint is leaked to the public in the legislative branch it is automatically dismissed. No wonder Jay Ramras, chair of House Judiciary, could so flippantly scold Governor Palin for wearing an Arctic Cat coat on a cold Alaska day though he ran multiple ads for his Pike's Lodge while serving in the legislature and running for lieutenant governor. Could it not be argued that this was a political use of airtime? Could these ads not be deemed an improper in-kind contribution? Yet when the absurd Arctic Cat ethics complaint was filed, he chastised the governor for wearing a winter coat on a winter day! The hypocrisy is glaring.
We can look the other way, or we can implore legislators to do the right thing. They need to take up this issue, and we need to let them know how we feel about it. Governor Palin made the selfless decision to resign because she could no longer allow the politics of personal destruction being waged against her to continually cost the state thousands of dollars. And will legislators do nothing? Indeed, something needs to be done, and by "something" I don't mean simply hearing one-sided testimony from the anklebiters themselves.
Governor Palin fought against business as usual in the state of Alaska. Failure to act in the best interests of the state she served is unacceptable. The boneheaded decision to hear testimony on ethics from unethical boneheads makes no sense at all.
I urge you all to call and/or email these legislators and respectfully insist that they take action. Your voice does matter. I've included the contact information for you. (All phone numbers: 907 area code)
* Chair: Rep. Wes Keller - Representative_Wes_Keller@legis.state.ak.us, 465-2186
* Vice-Chair: Sen. Donald Olson - Senator_Donald_Olson@legis.state.ak.us, 465-3707
* Rep. Carl Gatto - Representative_Carl_Gatto@legis.state.ak.us, 465-3743
* Rep David Guttenberg - Representative_David_Guttenberg@legis.state.ak.us, 465-4457
* Sen. Albert Kookeesh - Senator_Albert_Kookesh@legis.state.ak.us, 465-3473
* Sen. Kevin Meyer - Senator_Kevin_Meyer@legis.state.ak.us, 465-4945
* Senate Pres.: Sen. Gary Stevens - Senator_Gary_Stevens@legis.state.ak.us, 465-4925
* Speaker of the House: Rep. Mike Chenault Representative_Mike_Chenault@legis.state.ak.us, 465-3779