A Legislative Ethics Committee panel has found a legislative staff member violated ethics rules when he moved too soon to challenge a sitting legislator.
The apparent once and future candidate is David Scott of Ketchikan, a Republican who currently serves as chief of staff to Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome.
Scott told the press last fall he would be challenging incumbent Ketchikan Rep. Kyle Johansen, R-Ketchikan in the Republican Primary. Due to redistricting, Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, is also likely to be in that heavily Republican district.
The Ethics Committee’s Senate Subcommittee this week issued a public reprimand of Scott, and recommended the Senate place him on probation until the official filing deadline on June 1 passes. He’d be immediately fired if he committed more violations while on probation. b
Last fall Scott, a former member of Johansen’s staff, told the media he’d be running against his former boss in the Republican primary. He also notified Republican Party officials.
While it is against the law for current legislative staff to run for office, Scott never filed officially for the position, said Ethics Committee Administrator Joyce Anderson.
“Mr. Scott’s actions give the distinct impression that he was trying to run for office without resigning employment,” her report said.
The Ethics Committee’s Senate Subcommittee met behind closed doors in March to consider Scott’s actions, and made public its decision this week.
Subcommittee chairman Dennis “Skip” Cook said “the public reprimand is notice to Mr. Scott, other legislative employees and the public that the committee takes seriously the provisions in statute requiring a legislative employee to resign prior to becoming a candidate.”
Those who work for the Legislature have a responsibility to conduct themselves in a way that preserves the integrity of the legislative process, Cook wrote in a decision by the subcommittee.
When Scott was told his candidacy was in violation of the law, he announced he was withdrawing it. Then, in subsequent interviews, he maintained he was still running.
Cook told Scott he could have avoided the situation by exercising “good judgment.”
Cook is not a legislator. The Ethics Committee is unusual in that while it contains some legislators, a majority of its members are from the general public.
The Senate subcommittee includes both Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, and Senate Minority Leader John Coghill, R-North Pole.
Scott responded through Olson, saying he would not be challenging the Ethics Committee’s recommendations, at least through the remainder of the legislative session.
“If he decides to file for office, he obviously is going to have to leave my employment,” Olson said.
The office’s current goal is to deal with the crush of late session legislation, he said.
• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.