Blogs by Rep Bob Lynn

Blog site of Representative Bob Lynn, Alaska House of Representatives,District 31 Anchorage, Alaska. Blogs consist of public comments during legislative sessions, speeches, political commentary, as well as personal observations, and some journal type entries. Comments are invited.

Location: Anchorage, Alaska, United States

Member of the Alaska State House of Represeentatives since 2003. US Air Force, Retired; military bandsman; F94C interceptor pilot; Vietnam service as radar controller (Monkey Mountain), radar site commander(Pleiku); Government Contract Management; Public school Teacher, Retired. Married 55 years to Marlene Wagner Lynn, 6 children, 20 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild. Member St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Church. Former Tucson Arizona policeman, Ambulance Driver and Mortician's Assistant, Realtor (currently on referral status).

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Following is my House floor speech in support of my amendment to remove Section 2 of AS 24.60.031(c) from my HB368 ethics bill. Rightly or wrongly, the speech caused quite a stir in the capitol building (“stir” loosely translated as “yikes!”).

"Mr. Speaker, this is an amendment to remove Section 2 of HB368 that was added in the last committee. The subject matter has little to do with the subject matter of the underlying bill. Basically, the amendment removes a bad seed that should not be planted in a good bill. Section 2 was not one of the recommendations by the Select Committee on Ethics for this legislation …

Section 2 puts us on a very slippery slope, that increases the danger of mixing campaign contributions and legislative votes in too close proximity to the physical location of special sessions.

Unless we pass this amendment, a legislator could get campaign contributions anyplace a special session occurs, if that session is held 90 days immediately preceding an election as long as that legislator is running for office in a district within the municipality hosting the session …

Proponents of new fundraising loophole claim the current law is unfair to Juneau legislators … They say they are at a competitive disadvantage when special sessions are held in the Capital city. But my colleagues from Juneau have not complained.

Unless we remove Section 2, I think this provision could lead down the path to some bad habits from the good old days – days that actually weren’t that good. Newspaper accounts I’ve found from 12 years ago, make the point.

In those days, executives and lobbyists coming in the door to see legislators would pass by tables covered with upside down top hats. For anyone with an IQ above a clam, it didn’t take long to figure out what the hats were for. And the checks, mostly sheathed in envelopes, would pile up fast …

Then, during the evening, there would be fund-raising receptions and other such campaign-enriching events …

And throughout all these cash-fueled meet and greets, lawmakers voted on important legislation - bills that were often of interest to the patrons of political campaigns … According to an Anchorage Daily News story from that era, one lobbyist was quoted as saying: “I can’t believe the legislators don’t find this as distasteful as most people think it is … It’s just a lousy system.”

We’re come a long say since, with some recent notable detours, in building a Foundation of Trust through campaign and ethics reform that prohibit lawmakers from using state offices and equipment to raise campaign funds …

But this Section 2 of HB 368 … this gaping loophole in the fundraising rules … would make it possible to raise money on private property across the street, down the block, or in the neighborhood … Mixing campaign contributions and legislative votes that close to the location of a session, regular or special, creates - at the very least - the appearance of improper influence … and quite possibly the seed for public corruption. Mr. Speaker, that’s a seed that should not be planted.

Let me make this perfectly clear. My colleagues who voted for this exemption have good and honest intentions. One legislator testified that you have to assume people are honest. Well I do. But I also have to assume that some people will do whatever the law allows them to do - especially under the pressure of a competitive race …

Another colleague said he was going to err, he would err on the side of equal treatment – the rationale being that no lawmaker should be at a fundraising disadvantage simply because they reside in the municipality where a session is held.

I can understand that. But I also believe there’s a compelling state interest that supersedes this argument, and that is the need to preserve the integrity of the legislative process … which, by the way, is the mission of the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics …

In 1982, a local cartoonist drew a wonderful cartoon of a legislator holding out his hand toward a man reaching for his wallet. The caption reads: “These things aren’t free, you know. Why do you think they’re called bills?”

Please eliminate this fundraising loophole attached to HB368. Please help us maintain a healthy distance between someone’s checkbook and a legislator with a vote."

NOTE: My amendment failed on a bi-partisan vote of 14 to 25 (you win some, lose some). Among the 14 voting “yes” with me were the Republican Majority Leader, the Democrat Minority Leader, the Republican Rules Chairman, and the Republican Finance Co-Chair.


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