Sunday, June 14, 2009

Politicians Escaping Justice?

In the past year we had three Alaskan politicians receive guilty verdicts on corruption charges. In the past 4 months, all charges and sentences have been overturned and the prisoners released. In each case, this resulted from the prosecutorial team withholding evidence from the defense.

Doesn't this seem coincidental ? It's pretty clear that these politicians strayed over the line of what is legally permitted and even more clear that they strayed over the line ethically regardless of whether it was legally actionable.

I am starting to think that these errors on the part of the prosecution teams were not just mistakes - but calculated, with exactly this result in mind. Lets look at it this way...
  • the powers that be can say they are tough on corruption
  • the Republican party can use this as evidence that they are being unfairly targeted
  • the vindicated politicians can use this to revitalize their base and get re-elected
I would really like to see this investigated. Either there is something going on or we have a really badly damaged prosecutorial system that needs to be repaired.


  1. I wonder if corruption is inherent in rural states and is seem simply as the price of getting work done?

    Mind you, I believe both my senators are beyond reproach, but the reps? Not so much for two of them.

    And local politics? The Southern part of WV is famous for vote buying schemes and other political machinations. And of course it's the Southern part of the state that is most rural.

    I wonder if the quid pro quo comes in when politicians are on a first name basis with many supporters, simply because the base of support is so small?

    And I wonder how this affects normal friendships? For instance, I always give things away when I don't need them. Can actions like that be misconstrued when one individual in a friendship has power? I truly have no idea, just musing. :)

  2. I used to live in West Virginia, so I know what you mean.

    However, these fellows reside in the Anchorage area - definitely not rural. All of them took oaths to follow ethics rules. All 3 took thousands of dollars in goods/services/kickbacks from oil company executives - that became their friends after taking public office.

    These guys knew what they were doing was wrong - there were recorded conversations that indicated that they knew. One of them is a lawyer to boot.

    I guess that's part of what makes me so cynical.

  3. I too hail from West Virginia, and see the similarity, but don't think rural is the issue. West Virginia and Alaska do share a similarity in economies, and I think that is the link. Oil is to Alaska what coal is to West Virginia. The residents of both states depend heavily on the economies generated by both resources, and must to some extent pay homage to the corporations who hold a nearly monopolistic control of them. We tend to put up with more unethical behavior from our politicians because of their affiliations to those corporations who control our economies. West Virginian coal miners got paid in script, and Alaskans line up for the Permanent fund. I wonder how much more control of our government we would have had if we hadn't terminated the state income tax in the early 80's. To me, the permanent fund has always been presented more as a "gift to the good citizens of Alaska who should be thankful for charity", than as a constitionally authorized tax upon the oil companies for the use of our resources. When citizens choose to speak out against any unethical practice of the corporations or the politicians they seem to control, the threat of the loss of the money from the oil revenues is thrown at our feet. This dependency on oil revenues cripples our government.

  4. i believe you have hit the nail on the head. Being held captive by multinational firms that have sufficient capital to develop our resources puts us in a one down position. The lack of income tax here has created a class of people who feel entitled to have government services, yet don't want to have to pay for them. They don't understand that they can strike a middle ground and still get the resources developed and are frightened of doing anything to offend these MNCs. It's a broken system.