Anchorage approves new city ethics rules

Provision forbids legislators from lobbying Assembly

Posted: Thursday, December 14, 2006

ANCHORAGE - The Anchorage Assembly has approved new ethics rules for city officials.

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The rules include a provision forbidding legislators from lobbying before the Assembly, something that state Rep. Tom Anderson was allowed to do. Anderson, an Anchorage Republican, was arrested on corruption charges last week.

Assemblyman Ken Stout said the timing of the new ethics law and any statewide political or legal event is coincidental.

The city's been working on a revision of its ethics law for almost seven years. Assembly members voted unanimously in favor of the new rules on Tuesday.

"The public trust has got to be at an all-time low," said Assembly member Dan Coffey, who is recovering from heart surgery and participated in Tuesday night's meeting via speakerphone. The city's new rules address the type of misbehavior seen at the state level, he said.

"We should put this in book form and send it to Juneau ... and have them follow us," Assemblywoman Janice Shamberg said.

The 55-page ordinance goes into effect Jan. 1. It says:

• A state legislator can't lobby in front of the Assembly.

• City employees and elected officials can't register as lobbyists, unless the person is a union representative.

• Municipal lobbyists and their immediate family members cannot contribute money to, raise funds for, or serve on campaigns of municipal candidates.

• Officials can't accept payment or gifts in exchange for votes, jobs, or promotions.

• An elected official can't be a consultant for someone doing business with the city. For example, lawyers on the Assembly can't work for clients on city issues.

• City officials can't make decisions about things the official or a family member has a substantial financial or private interest in.

• A municipal employee can't campaign or endorse candidates while on duty.

• Occasional gifts worth $50 or less, if presumed not to be any sort of bribe, are generally acceptable. Some must be reported. Meals worth more than $50 must be disclosed. Unsolicited gifts are OK in some circumstances, but mostly would have to be disclosed.

The ethics rules cover elected officials, paid employees and appointed committee members from the municipality and the Anchorage School District.

The five-member volunteer Board of Ethics, which reviews ethics complaints, was involved in rewriting the rules.



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