This editorial first appeared in the Alaska Journal of Commerce:
Does anybody care our non-elected governor stomped on the state's Constitution? Twice.
Does anybody care that he continues to say he did nothing wrong? In either instance.
Despite the fact that his own attorney general said there was an "appreciable risk" a judge might disagree?
Gov. Sean Parnell, who took over his position his predecessor quit, has been criticized for creating state agency positions for two lawmakers, effectively giving them jobs before they were legally eligible to take them under the state Constitution.
The first: Nancy Dahlstrom took a new position as Parnell's military affairs adviser. She apparently negotiated the position when she was the House Rules Committee chair.
Then Parnell offered former Sen. Gene Therriault the new job of energy advisor within days after he quit.
Lawmakers, under the Constitution, can't accept certain positions created while they were in office for at least a year. While the governor contends these jobs weren't actually created until after these lawmakers quit, the short timeframe between new positions and the lawmaker's resignations is too close for that logic to float.
It's also notable that in their new positions, their salaries would have doubled, to more than $100,000 each, setting them up for much larger pensions in their retirement years. Pensions are paid based on the salary one had at the time of retirement.
Sullivan admitted shortcomings in the legal advice his department gave Parnell on hiring Dahlstrom. Therriault was hired in the same manner.
In a July 1 memo regarding the Dahlstrom hire, Sullivan wrote the Alaska Supreme Court has found the state Constitution's "ineligibility clause" aims to keep lawmakers from creating jobs in hopes of securing them.
But, "The crux of the issue centers on when an executive branch position is 'created' for purposes of the ineligibility clause," he wrote. "Alaska courts have not directly addressed that question."
He later said there was an "appreciable risk" a court might disagree with the department's conclusion.
Dahlstrom and Therriault have resigned their posts after some criticism - mainly from Parnell's competition in the upcoming primary election.
The two former lawmakers are out of jobs. Parnell can stand on the campaign stands and say, "No harm, no foul."
The attorney general, the remaining sitting lawmakers and even voters seem to be throwing their hands up and saying the same.
Parnell, as the state's executive, must assure Alaskans that he will lead the state in a moral and ethical manner. And Alaska voters should demand no less.
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