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Michael Carey: No lobbyist should be appointed to the Legislature

Michael Carey

When I was editorial page editor, my trips to the capital taught me that if I hoped to understand political behavior, I needed to become more cynical.

But I wasn't cynical enough to imagine the latest gambit from "the comedians in Juneau," as my Dad, Fabian, derisively dismissed the capital crew. They have made a registered lobbyist a member of the state House of Representatives.

Samuel Kito III, 49, has been appointed to the Juneau delegation, replacing Beth Kerttula, who resigned after eight-plus terms.

The public already thinks lobbyists control the Legislature, but now a lobbyist will take the floor and participate in debate. In days of yore -- before this session -- you became a legislator and turned to lobbying to line your pockets after serving. In 2014, you become a lobbyist, then a legislator.

Talk about transforming a toad into a prince.

If lobbyists, in novelist Henry James' marvelous phrase, "gorged on the fruits of their misrepresentations," are not satisfied writing bills and instructing dim and docile legislators how to vote, maybe more of their fraternity should become lawmakers. The tired two-party system, falling apart before our eyes, might be revitalized. No more Democrats and Republicans. Replace them with Lobbyists and Oil Company Employees. We already have two white-collar oilies who were elected to the Senate.

Perhaps next time there's a legislative opening in Anchorage, how about asking Ashley Reed to drag himself off the lobbyists' bench on the second floor of the capitol and take a seat in one of the chambers? Ashley's already an expert on the Alaska Public Offices Commission regulations. No doubt he would relish the opportunity to rewrite campaign contribution rules.

The process that propelled Kito III to the Legislature followed the state Constitution's provisions for filling vacancies yet was nonetheless odious.

Rep. Kerttula, apparently weary of Juneau winters and a career in the minority, abandoned her constituents for the sunny Stanford University campus before her term ended. She might as well have hung a sign on her office door that said "I give up." The Juneau Democratic Party, allowed the opportunity to submit the names of three potential replacements to the governor, made Kito III one of their nominees. And what do you know, Gov. Sean Parnell, ever sensitive to the needs of the ruling class, selected a lobbyist, and the House Democratic caucus, probably unwilling to buck the Juneau lobbying corps, which includes Kito III's father, confirmed a lobbyist.

The standard response of lobbyists and lawmakers to media criticism of their relationship is, "You don't understand." Well, after 40 years of watching "the comedians in Juneau," I do understand.

Lobbyists have made themselves the fourth branch of government. Their presence and power is ever expanding. Under no circumstances should a lobbyist receive an appointment to the Legislature.

Michael Carey is the former editorial page editor of the Daily News. Email, mcarey@adn.com.


Michael Carey
commentBy MICHAEL CAREY