College lecture clouds campaign rules

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, September 30, 2005

Tuesday night while channel surfing, I was surprised to see Assembly candidate Jonathan Anderson on the air broadcasting a live two-hour lecture from the media center at the University of Alaska Southeast, where he is employed.

The broadcast gave Anderson free "face time" before the voting public to promote the major theme of his campaign - his support for democracy - just one week before the election. And it didn't cost him a nickel.

Being on television for two hours, it is likely that a large number of people observed him. Had Mr. Anderson paid the going rate for a 30-second commercial, the cost to his campaign would have been astronomical.

The Alaska Public Offices Commission allows individuals to contribute up to $1,000 to a political candidate. But businesses, and surely that includes public universities, cannot donate to campaigns. What made Mr. Anderson think that just because he works for the university he enjoys unlimited free media time during a campaign?

Anderson's opponent, Drew Green, chose to run a campaign for under $5,000 and did not solicit or accept any large contributions from any industry or institution.

If Anderson is as much a promoter of good government and ethical politics as he claims to be, how come he didn't ask a teaching assistant or another professor to cover his class so close to Juneau's election date? Former Juneau Mayor Dennis Egan didn't even host "Problem Corner" when he was a candidate. How much more unethical is it to use a publicly supported job to advance a campaign?

Was this bad judgment, an ethical lapse, or an end-run of the rules governing democratic elections?

Thank goodness democracy dictates. The public can decide on Tuesday.

Paulette Simpson


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