10.01.2008 0

Corruption Run Amok in Alaska

  • On: 10/16/2008 10:12:59
  • In: Government Transparency
  • An article published yesterday in the Anchorage Daily News tells of the most recent controversy brewing in Alaska—and, surprisingly enough, it has nothing to do with ANWR.

    A scandal that germinated back in 2006 has finally come into the spotlight this week and it appears that state Senator John Cowdery has both hands deep in the cookie jar. The 78-year-old Anchorage Republican has been indicted on charges of conspiracy and bribery for scheming with executives of an oil services company to bribe another state Senator, Donny Olson. The bribe was reportedly arranged in order to sway Olson’s vote in favor of oil tax legislation favorable to the oil services company.

    Alaska, a state long familiar with corruption, has appropriately reacted in outrage. Governor Sarah Palin has come forth calling for Cowdery’s immediate resignation:

    “It was disturbing to learn that another public official has been charged with violating the public trust. I urge Senator Cowdery to step down, for the good of the state.”

    The new indictment stems from a series of phone calls dating back to March 2006 and a June 2006 breakfast during which Cowdery, Olson, and Bill Allen, the chief executive of the oil company, met to discuss the terms of the bribe. The FBI was positioned to monitor the conversation at the breakfast and managed to pick up some truly diabolical scheming. As the article lays out, the conversation commenced as follows:

    “‘Well, I think the way (company CEO) could do that is by check. Probably the best way for everybody,’ Cowdery said, according to the indictment. ‘There are a couple of issues I can certainly help you out on. But I gotta be real careful on some of the other ones,’ Olson said. ‘So you need … some money here pretty quick?’ Allen asked Olson. Olson nodded that he did. Olson then asked Allen, ‘How much are you good for?’ ‘What?’ Allen answered. ‘How much are you good for?’ ‘Oh, we can probably go 25,’ Allen answered. ‘That’s a good start,’ Olson answered, according to the charges.”

    Although Olson has been cooperating with the FBI for about a year, there are other politicians linked to Cowdery and his malfeasance. These include state Senator B. Fitzgerald and former Senate President Ben Stevens. A possible penalty of up to 10 years in prison awaits Cowdery if convicted.

    This recent example of political corruption serves to show that the American people must remain vigilant and demand leadership based on integrity and devotion to the people whom elected them. We cannot acquiesce and continue to allow politicians to isolate themselves from the people that hold them accountable. Without accountability, we should expect nothing but corruption.

    The example set by Cowdery also demonstrates the crucial need to keep government limited and our duty to remain dubious of any plan that grants government more power than it needs.

    If state senators in a small state like Alaska cannot remain true to their constituents, how can we expect our leaders in Washington to do the same?

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