A quiet end to a disgraceful candidacy

Posted: Monday, January 10, 2000

The following editorial appeared in Saturday's Anchorage Daily News:

The final chapter of John Lindauer's quest for governor ended quietly in an Anchorage courtroom Thursday. Shrouded in infamy, devoid of supporters, Mr. Lindauer pleaded no contest to three misdemeanors and pledged to never seek elective office in Alaska again. He was fined $15,000 and will perform 100 hours of community service.

The terms and conditions of Mr. Lindauer's plea were negotiated. But the fact that he was sentenced for misdemeanors, not felonies, does not diminish the seriousness of his misdeeds.

John Lindauer won the 1998 Republican nomination for governor through a mixture of criminal dishonesty and deception. His campaign was predicated on a lie - that his campaign money was his own - and he lied repeatedly when queried about the source of his financing.

Who can forget that mythical sugar daddy, the ``wacky inventor''?

The truth was a stranger to Mr. Lindauer. He lied about matters significant and trivial with equal alacrity.

But the Lindauer story did not have to end with his rejection by the voters and a guilty plea. He won a decisive primary election over a credible Republican field. He had the backing of some prominent Alaskans who saw him as the best alternative to incumbent Tony Knowles. His money, despite its taint, still spent green, projecting him to every corner of the state.

After two months of public scrutiny of his statements, behavior and record, close to one in five Alaskans who voted turned to Mr. Lindauer in the general election. If he had not been so thoroughly exposed as a liar - or if he had been a better liar - he might have triumphed.

Mr. Lindauer said little or nothing at sentencing. He let his attorney, Peter Gruenstein, do the talking, and Mr. Gruenstein displayed great range - from the pathetic to the absurd.

Part of the problem, he said, was that the press coverage had been excessive and simplistic. Excessive? Just what is the right amount of coverage when a candidate for governor attempts to corrupt the election process? Simplistic? If Mr. Lindauer had told the truth, reporters could have told the story in its big-picture ugliness from the beginning.

Furthermore, Mr. Gruenstein's assertion that John Lindauer did not accept special interest contributions is nonsense. Mr. Lindauer took money from Chicago businessman Eddie Heil in a transaction the Alaska Public Offices Commission concluded was illegal, as well as near $2 million from his wife, a partner in his dishonorable venture. This was special interest money that smelled from here to Chicago.

Politicians often treat the truth with cavalier abandon. But John Lindauer was engaged in criminal activity that was rotten to the core - he sought to buy an election with illegal contributions and lies. And that's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

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