Alaska editorial: Anderson conviction a needed housecleaning

Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Guilty. Former state Rep. Tom Anderson of Anchorage now faces up to 115 years in a prison and a fine of perhaps $1.75 million following a July 9 pronouncement from a federal jury.

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The potential penalty, or even a somewhat reduced one, ought to be enough to scare the bejesus out of anyone considering crossing over the line in public office.

Anderson, the first sitting or former legislator to be convicted in the unfolding FBI probes of influence-peddling in Juneau, continues to proclaim his innocence and promises to appeal. The jurors didn't buy his defense and made relatively short work of their deliberations.

Alaskans by now know that Anderson's case isn't the only open case about the buying and selling of votes and other official actions. Already, top officials of VECO Corp., the oil field services company with deep ties to Alaska politics, have pleaded guilty in an even wider corruption probe that has enveloped the capital. Trials have been scheduled for Wasilla Rep. Vic Kohring, who will resign this month, and for former Reps. Pete Kott of Eagle River and Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau.

It has been an unpleasant many months, with more unpleasantness ahead as the judicial process continues.

Alaska both lost and won July 9. The loss is that the capital needed to be cleaned up of people like Anderson. The win is that the capital will, in time, be a better place for the many good and decent leaders who walk its halls.

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