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Governor's slush fund has stench to it

Shannyn Moore

You know how some things that are technically legal still smell funny? Well, there's something in the air right now.

This week, Sen. Lesil McGuire glowed as she introduced the newly formed "magical challenger slush fund" for Gov. Sean Parnell at the Petroleum Club. Her word-salad about being a backbone herself for the Republican Party, and the Senate bipartisan working group needing more GOP in it, was, well, Palinesque.

As someone who supports the "grown-ups" in Juneau, it was disappointing to see Sen. McGuire show up with her hand out to a governor whose oil tax policy she correctly called "half-baked" just a few months ago.

So, why the slush fund? Well, Gov. Parnell doesn't like being challenged by another branch of government. He really, really doesn't like it. He's bumping his head on the system of checks and balances. He's even resorted to name-calling in his attempt to shape a rubber-stamp Senate.

It seems unAlaskan that a governor would bundle lobbyists' money to take on lawmakers, including some from his own party, who are standing up for Alaska.

Alaska is fairly young, so we haven't thought to make laws for everything an ethically challenged governor might try. (Where's that to-do list?)

On the other hand, the law does say the governor can't raise money if there's any quid pro quo.

Who would benefit if the bipartisan Senate majority is destroyed? It's not a secret that the governor's proposed $2 billion a year gift to the oil companies was a point of contention with the Senate -- some senators wanted Alaska to actually get something before we started throwing money at the companies.

This week, ConocoPhillips announced its second-quarter earnings. Get ready to call the waambulance. Contrary to its pleas for more tax breaks, threats of breaking up with us and making us all worry we'd need a bake sale to keep its lights on, the numbers indicate otherwise.

From its SEC filings (read: under oath):

Its Alaska investments made $551 million in three months -- or $7 million a day. We're barraged about how great things are in the Lower 48. For all the money CP is investing in Texas, North Dakota and Montana, those states contributed only $104 million, a fifth of what Alaska delivered.

Here's the kicker: Conoco made $28.16 per barrel profit in Alaska -- about the same as in Q1 ($28.66). In the Lower 48, the company made $2.97 a barrel -- less than half its profit in Q1 ($6.07). And that's profit, so it already includes the expense of doing business in Alaska. Clearly, we're 9 1/2 times a better investment per barrel produced.

So why aren't the oil companies investing and producing more oil here? Could it be the governor and the House have as their mantra, "Alaska is closed for business"? If you went to Nordstrom's to buy a thousand-dollar suit and the salesman told you it would be half-price in a month, wouldn't you wait?

Which brings me back to the quid pro quo. Who would give thousands of dollars to the governor's slush fund if he wasn't getting something back? You have to believe people lined up with their checkbooks because they have nothing better to do with their money and want absolutely nothing in return.

All state employees, including the governor, are forbidden from "partisan political purposes," including this fund, while on Alaska's clock. How is the governor able to have such a fund, even with the state GOP holding the bag of money? Isn't the governor always the governor? If he's having a fundraiser and there's a state emergency, do they not break into the party because he's not on state time or dime? Heck no. This fund is to benefit the governor's political agenda, which I would argue is precisely opposite of the best interest of Alaska.

We have to decide if we're for sale, Alaska. If the governor has his way, get ready for the odor of low tide and the familiar stink of corrupt bastards.

This election may well decide whether we finally switch from an Owner State to an Owned State.

Shannyn Moore can be heard weekdays from 6 to 9 p.m. on KOAN 1020 AM and 95.5 FM radio. Her weekly TV show can be seen Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. statewide on ABC affiliate KYUR Anchorage, KATN Fairbanks and KJUD Juneau.


Shannyn Moore
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