By Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux
December 05, 2007
The Legislature clearly needs to change its rules. The idea that a legislator can impartially vote on an issue that could directly affect his or her pocketbook is patently absurd. For example, legislators recently received a copy of an e-mail from an oil industry support group to its members that showed how legislators voted on the new oil tax. The e-mail said that this information will be helpful in futures dealings with legislators-including the upcoming fundraising season. The e-mail encouraged the membership to "save this information for future reference." If legislators who have no ties to the industry can be put on notice that they may no longer expect any monetary contributions to their campaigns, how much more leverage do special interest groups have with people who actually work for them or receive income from them? I'd rather cross Tony Soprano over a garbage contract.
Section AS 24.60.010 of the Legislative Ethics Code reads:
"1) High moral and ethical standards among public servants in the legislative branch of government are essential to assure the trust, respect, and confidence of the people of this state; 2) a fair and open government requires that legislators and legislative employees conduct the public's business in a manner that preserves the integrity of the legislative process and avoids conflicts of interest or even appearances of conflicts of interest"
It is too late to do anything about it with respect to the oil tax vote, but there are many issues which may come before the legislature where members may have conflicts: fishermen, trial lawyers, pilots, doctors, to name but a few. Let those with conflicts participate in the debates and discussions so that their expertise is not wasted in this citizens' legislature. However, our legislature must amend its rules so that those with clear conflicts are not able to actually vote. In this way, we can restore the trust of our constituents.
About: Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux is a member of the Alaska State Legislature.
Received December 03, 2007 - Published December 05, 2007
Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
Your full name, city and state are required for publication.