Alaska editorial: Lawmakers' joke not funny

Posted: Friday, September 08, 2006

This editorial appeared in the Kenai Peninsula Clarion:

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The FBI's developing investigation of VECO and the state legislators the oil field services company gave money to leaves us saddened and disgusted.

Six lawmakers' offices were searched last week for anything regarding financial ties between the company and lawmakers, and documents having to do with Gov. Murkowski's proposed gas pipeline contract and a related rewrite of Alaska's production tax laws.

VECO has given sizable campaign contributions to 11 legislators, including Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, although Chenault had not, as of Friday, been named as a target of the FBI's search.

He has, however, been deemed a member of the "Corrupt Bastard's Club," by virtue of accepting a campaign contribution from VECO. As Chenault explained in an Associated Press article, the club is a joke that stems from a barroom comment and was taken so far as having hats with a "CBC" logo made up.

This early in the investigation, it's unclear if the campaign contributions resulted in legislative corruption, whether charges will be filed and, if so, against whom.

But even if no wrongdoing warranting legal action is uncovered, the CBC debacle is wrongdoing enough to warrant constituent outrage.

That any legislator would make light of matters such as campaign contributions and the perceived influence a donor may be buying shows an appalling lack of judgment, taste and respect for the people they represent.

It remains to be seen whether that lack of judgment extends to anything illegal.

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