Law provides no enforcement for lobbyist ethics training

Official says APOC has not received funds for program

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2007

ANCHORAGE - A new state law is requiring lobbyists to take a brief online ethics course, but there's no one making sure they actually do it.

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To register as a lobbyist, a person prints out a form promising they clicked through the roughly hour-long presentation.

Then they sign it and send it in.

The training is required as part of an ethics reform package passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Sarah Palin in July.

The new rules say the Alaska Public Offices Commission must provide the training, but the agency's executive director Brooke Miles said it has not received funding to do so.

Rep. John Coghill, R-North Pole, said he worked on the training requirement for lobbyists with Rep. Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage.

He said the Legislature likely will include money for the training next year.

Despite the lack of funding, Miles said APOC is offering the training in person, with classes beginning in December.

But the agency needed to offer the service online to allow people to register at any time, she said.

Miles said exams are not required because, with about 180 lobbyists registered with the state this year, they would take too much time to grade.

Miles acknowledged it was possible that some people could avoid going through the entire online course.

"You're never going to know what people are going to do ... There's always ways to get around everything, if that's the goal," Miles told the Anchorage Daily News.

Coghill said his goal was to have lobbyists know the rules and to sign some kind of affidavit saying they'd reviewed the laws.

"Lobbyists these days are going to be under the highest scrutiny," Coghill said.

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