Subcommittee Addresses Ethics-Related Questions

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

A state house subcommittee on legislative ethics released opinions this week on three separate concerns.

The first was a dismissal of a complaint against Anchorage Representative Republican Bob Lynn. A complaint was filed against him alleging he broke the whistle blower statute by writing in a published commentary that his former opponent had filed ethics complaints against him. Joyce Anderson, the administrator for the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics says the complaint was dismissed because the person who filed it was a member of the public.

Two separate opinions were sought by a lawmaker who did not waive confidentiality so it’s not possible to know who sought the guidance. The first opinion answered a legislative query about whether it was a conflict of interest for a lawmaker who is a shareholder and board member of a corporation that is in lease negotiations with the state, to vote on those leases.

The second part of the opinion addressed whether it was ethical for the lawmaker to lobby other legislators for funds to build a state building that may be built on land the corporation owes, or be built by the corporation that the lawmaker is a board member and shareholder of. Anderson says the ethics committee did not feel there was an actual conflict because the lawmaker did not hold more shares than others and did not stand to benefit substantially from the transaction. However, they did have a suggestion for appropriate conduct.

The ethics committee members wrote that the better course of action would be to avoid the appearance of conflict and refrain from assisting or promoting such legislation.

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