By Sen. Kim Elton
October 13, 2008
Case in point: Attorney General Talis Colberg "spinning" different reasons for tearing up his written pledge to let state employees cooperate with the legislature's investigation of the Walt Monegan affair. His explanatory letters to the legislative council simply amount to inartful pirouettes that flash his bum rationalizations.
Colberg rationalization #1 for breaking his written pledge: "new circumstances intervened--supporting the governor's decision to cooperate only with the Personnel Board investigation." Actually, those circumstances were quite old, not new. Eight days before the AG made his written offer to the legislature and 11 days before the legislature accepted in writing, the governor made it clear she believed the board was the only legal entity for the investigation. She said so in the complaint she filed against herself (then tried to dismiss) with the board. The AG can't use "new circumstances" as an excuse when the circumstances predate by more than a week his written offer and the legislature's written acceptance. Rationalization #1, if used as a hospital gown, doesn't begin to cover the AG's bum.
Colberg rationalization #2 for breaking his written pledge: "our clients (the state employees) have taken an oath to uphold the Alaska Constitution and for that reason they respect the legislature's desire to carry out an investigation in support of its law-making powers. However, our clients are also loyal employees subject to the supervision of the governor." Arguing that state employees now have loyalty issues, suggests at-will employees of the governor can elevate loyalty to the level of our constitution and laws. In this case, 'open and transparent' apparently means the AG flashes his bum without even trying to tie his legalistic hospital gown together in back.
Colberg rationalization #3 for breaking his written pledge: the subpoenas place state employees "in the difficult position of either choosing to support the governor's decision to cooperate only with the Personnel Board or to voluntarily comply with the subpoenas." Who decided responding to subpoenas is "voluntary"and why would the AG, who himself uses subpoenas to compel needed information, even want to suggest they are "voluntary"? I'd note the Superior Court ruled several days ago the AG was flat wrong and the state employees must respond to legislative subpoenas. Here, the court stripped the AG's hospital gown off and revealed his (legal) briefs are as lacking in substance and support as men's bikini briefs.
Time for a short summary. The AG made a written agreement and then broke it. He went to the court to quash subpoenas and got slam dunked. Less than honorable, no legal foundation. When the AG's honor is questionable, it chills his ability to reach complex written agreements with others negotiating civil or criminal issues with the Department of Law. Why deal with an AG who so cavalierly breaks a written deal with the legislature? And, if the AG doesn't understand the law that governs subpoenas, what else doesn't he understand? Can he do a job that requires far more complex legal analysis in other matters of law?
Perhaps it's time that Mr. Colberg at least let his staff tie up the back of his hospital gown. Failing that he should discharge himself and replace the gown with civvies.
About: Sen. Kim Elton (D) is a member of the Alaska Legislature representing Juneau.
Received October 13, 2008 - Published October 13, 2008
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