Governor Palin signed our new ethics bill, HB109, into law today. It was ironic, and totally coincindental, that the bill was signed the same day former legislator Tom Anderson was convicted by a federal jury on seven different charges.
I watched,along with fellow legislators, Max Gruenberg, Jay Ramras, Bob Roses, Hollis French, the governor sign the bill at APOC (Alaska Public Offices Commission) office in Anchorage. All of us thanked the governor for her work on the bill. The bill amends four titles in state statute concerning lobbying, disclosure, and both legislative and executive branch ethical behavior. The following is my Chairman of the House State Affairs Committee quote for the Majority Press release:
"HB 109 is everybody's bill. No individual legislator's name appears as a sponsor. In a manner of speaking, Governor Palin's ethics bill was 'co-sponsored' by constituents and all 60 legislators. "Now, we have another 'AGIA' bill. The first was for a gas pipeline. I call HB 109 'AGEIA II,'the 'Alaska Governmental Ethics Inducement Act."
"Whatever we call it, building a foundation of trust between voters and the people they elect is essential to everything we do - including the gas pipeline. No legislation will make a dishonest person honest. But HB 109 may assist the 'ethically challenged' who, one way or another,obtain public office. HB 109 is everybody's bill. No individual legislator's name appears as a sponsor. In a manner of speaking, Governor Palin's ethics bill was 'co-sponsored' by constituents and all 60 legislators."
Before and after the bill signing, we took questions from the media. In response to a question on whether legislative pay of only $24,012 a year contributes to ethical lapses I said, "No. The amount of one's salary has nothing to do with one's ethics - some of the poorest people in the world are the most honest . . . If you can't manage to take care of your personal business, without "consulting contracts," and so on, then you shouldn't run for office. I added, "I was never offered a "consulting contract" and wouldn't have taken it if I was (yes, we do get per diem, but we have to pay rent in Juneau, as well as pay on our mortgage and winter utilities, and other expenses back home).
When asked about the conviction of Tom Anderson, I responded, "The sad thing is, what happened will affect his parents, children, and wife - we need to keep them in our prayers, and also Tom." When people commit crimes,they seldom consider the hurt it brings to innocent parties.