State lawmaker criticizes Palin's role in fundraiser

Rep. Hawker says participation raises conflict concerns

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Gov. Sarah Palin planned to co-host a campaign fundraiser Wednesday night for Republicans in the state Senate minority, raising objections from a lawmaker who said it raises questions of a conflict of interest.

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Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell and Senate Minority Leader Gene Therriault of North Pole were the fundraiser's other hosts at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage.

At the same time, Senate President Lyda Green was holding a fundraiser across the street at the Corsair Restaurant. Therriault is the chief political rival of Green, a Wasilla Republican.

State Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage and a member of the House majority, said Palin's participation brings up questions of both common sense and conflict of interest.

"It raises real questions on the issue of separation of powers, appearance of conflicts of interest and plain common sense and decorum in office. The governor traditionally limits themselves to party fundraising activities, if anything at all," he told the Anchorage Daily News.

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Therriault and most of his minority supported Palin in November to push through a major increase in state oil taxes over Green's objection.

But he said the criticism about Palin's role in the fundraiser is unwarranted.

"I don't know why anybody would be surprised that a Republican would be helping a fellow Republican to raise funds," he said,

The fundraiser would help the three senators who are up for re-election in the fall, Republicans Tom Wagoner, Gary Wilken and Fred Dyson, Therriault said.

He also said the fundraiser, being held at the same time and near Green's, was just a coincidence. Lawmakers next week report back to Juneau, where are they prohibited from fundraising during the session. That means there's many fundraisers across Anchorage this week.

Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said the governor is hosting the Senate minority event "simply because they asked."

Leighow said no other legislators, including Green, asked for the governor's help with a fundraiser.

Palin would be open to the idea of helping Green, Samuels and Hawker if it worked with her schedule, Leighow said.



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