Ballot Measure to Combat Corruption Has A Year To Gather 30,000 Signatures

While election season may have just ended, there is already a push to gather signatures for a new ballot measure in 2016.

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A small group of supporters behind an effort to criminalize what they see as corruption in Alaska politics gathered at the Division of Elections Friday, for a training on how to collect the 28,545 signatures they will need from across the state.

“This initiative will make it a crime for legislators to vote to appropriate money or deliver economic benefits to themselves, their employers, their families,” said Ray Metcalfe, director of the push to bring the issue to voters. “When they’re conflicted they need to recuse themselves from voting.”

Such laws exist in other states, but Metcalfe says without them Alaska is continually near the top of the list when it comes to corruption. In the absence of more explicit measures making it officially illegal to wheel-and-deal, Metcalfe sees actions that are felonies elsewhere, but par for the course here. Like, he believes, the recent Senate Bill 21 oil tax vote in the legislature.

“You had two employees of ConcoPhillips voting to give their employer a billion dollar tax break,” Metcalfe explained. “That would not be permissible under this law.”

Presently, the initiative has broad party support from the Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, and even some Tea-Party members. According to Metcalfe, the Republican Party has not endorsed the measure.

Supporters have a year to gather all the signatures needed. Once submitted, a comprehensive certification process begins within the Division of Elections as they check line by line and signature by signature, that enough Alaskans support the idea to send it to the Lieutenant Governor for approval.