Ethics panel looks at how other states collect fines

  • By Molly Dischner
  • Wednesday, January 21, 2015 11:00pm
  • News

JUNEAU — A legislative committee that can fine Alaska lawmakers for ethics violations now wants a way to collect, but members couldn’t agree on how to do that during a meeting Wednesday in Juneau.

The Select Committee on Legislative Ethics has no course of action if a lawmaker decides not to pay a fine. That’s what the committee faces with a former state representative, Alan Dick, who was fined about $18,000 in 2013 for five ethics violations.

Dick’s violations included using state resources for his personal benefit in 2012, performing campaign activities out of his legislative office and having an aide prepare materials for a debate on government time. It also found violations related to Dick’s 2012 legislative travel.

Dick, who couldn’t immediately be reached by The Associated Press for comment Wednesday, had paid about $5,000 of the fine as of the board’s October meeting, committee records show.

Joyce Anderson, the committee’s former executive director, said no payments have been made since then.

After hearing several options including asking the attorney general to file a complaint, amending state law, or asking the Legislative Council for help filing a complaint in court, the panel decided to ask other states for more information on how they collect unpaid fines.

Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, said he was concerned that if the committee tried to collect the fines in court, it might open the violations for further consideration.

“If you sue someone, you could lose,” Josephson said, suggesting that the committee instead consider amending state law to enable the committee to collect.

Sen. Gary Steven, R-Kodiak, questioned the need for a collections process.

“Mr. Chairman, I was very surprised at seeing this document,” he said. “As the chairman of leg council, I don’t really see that it’s our job to be collecting fines or be suing legislators. That’s simply not within our purview.”

The committee also recommended introduction of a bill changing the ethics requirements for the legislature’s contractors and consultants. The bill would align the requirements for contractors with those for legislative volunteers and interns.

TJ Presley, an aide to Senate Minority Leader Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage, presented the bill to the committee and said that subjecting contractors to the same disclosure requirements as legislators is “onerous” and not currently enforced. Gardner introduced the bill Wednesday.

If enforced, the committee would have to deal with disclosures from far more people than it currently does, said outgoing committee chair Gary Turner, of Soldotna.

Committee member Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, noted that the recommendation to introduce the bill was not the same as the committee endorsing the bill.

More in News

A map shows the location of a safety corridor project along the Sterling Highway between Sterling and Soldotna. (Photo courtesy of DOT&PF)
Sterling highway project to have limited environmental impact, assessment finds

The stretch highway to be improved reaches from Fred Meyer in Soldotna to the bridge over Moose River in Sterling

Donated blood is prepared for storage and eventual transport at the Blood Bank of Alaska’s Juneau location. There is a statewide shortage of donated blood. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
‘National blood crisis’ presents challenges in Alaska

Donation centers contend with COVID, weather and other disruptions as they work to stock hospitals.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters alongside, from left, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., during a press conference regarding the Democratic party’s shift to focus on voting rights at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)
Big voting bill faces defeat as 2 Dems won’t stop filibuster

This is the fifth time the Senate will try to pass voting legislation this Congress

Members of the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce listen to a briefing by Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan during a joint luncheon at the Soldotna Sports Complex on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Sullivan reports in from D.C.

The senator touched on infrastructure, voting rights, defense spending and the pandemic

The Alaska State Capitol building seen on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 in Juneau, Alaska. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
State lawmakers face proposed salary hike, allowance limits

A commission voted 3-1 to raise the base salary from $50,400 a year to $64,000

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
House Speaker Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, gave a stern warning about decorum to members of the Alaska House of Representatives on the first day of the legislative session on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022. Last year the Legislature was so divided it took a full regular session and four special sessions before work was completed.
1st day of session brings familiar tensions to Legislature

The session opened with calls for bipartisanship, but tensions were evident

Image via Alaska Board of Fisheries
Statewide shellfish meeting rescheduled

This comes after the board bumped back its Southeast and Yakutat shellfish meeting

A State of Alaska epidemiology bulletin can be found at
State updates STI protocol after reported drop

The state has been experiencing an outbreak since 2017

The Kenai Fire Department headquarters are photographed on Feb. 13, 2018, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Police identify remains found in burned car

Kenai Police and Fire departments responded to a car fire at Beaver Creek in Kenai on Jan. 7

Most Read