Lawmaker plans bill on ethics complaints

New law would let only substantiated accusations go public

Posted: Sunday, June 21, 2009

ANCHORAGE - State Rep. Bob Lynn said he plans to introduce a bill to prevent ethics complaints against the governor or her staff from being publicly discussed unless they are found to have merit.

Lynn said in a statement that currently "an unsubstantiated complaint can be all over the newspaper, TV, and talk radio before it's even investigated. That's not fair. It invites frivolous complaints by people with a political agenda, wasting public money and the time of everybody involved."

The Anchorage Republican, a supporter of Gov. Sarah Palin, said his bill would mandate that complaints against the governor or others in the state's executive branch be dismissed if they breach confidentiality.

That's how it already works in complaints against state legislators.

Palin has said that ethics complaints filed are aired in the media, only to then be dismissed.

Lynn said the governor's office was not consulted regarding his bill.

Gabe Aceves, director of the Alaska Public Interest Research Group, said his organization opposes Lynn's proposal.

Aceves sais the idea of dismissing a legitimate complaint because someone speaks out publicly is the wrong message to send when Alaska continues to have lawmakers in and out of jail.

"Elected officials, especially those with high profile positions, are subject to public scrutiny and should be held to a high standard," he said in a statement. "That can't be done without an open, transparent process for filing complaints against the Executive Branch."

Andree McLeod, who has filed a number of ethics complaints against Palin or her staff, said Lynn was on the wrong track.

"Why would you want to make something more secretive instead of less secretive?" McLeod said.

"What Bob Lynn wants to do does not serve the public's interest, it only serves the public officials' interest," she said.

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