Now that Mead Treadwell has thrown his hat in the ring for the United States Senate election as a GOP candidate, it's time for him to step down as Alaska's lieutenant governor.
The inherent conflicts of interest between his obligations as a GOP U.S. Senate candidate in the 2014 race and his constitutionally-charged responsibilities to control and supervise Alaska's elections as lieutenant governor are simply too great to overcome. As it stands, Treadwell's incompatible roles compromise the integrity of our elections and electoral process. Treadwell needs to do the right thing and resign.
Recent rulings from Washington D.C. regarding the Voting Rights Act demonstrate the fluid nature of our electoral process. Treadwell's candidacy throws a monkey wrench into the works. The Alaska Constitution charges the lieutenant governor with statewide elections responsibilities and oversight. It's imperative that the lieutenant governor provide Alaskans a fair, impartial, legal and, most importantly in this case, unbiased electoral process. Treadwell can't do that and run in one of the most hotly contested U.S. Senate races in the nation at the same time without casting a long shadow of doubt over every decision he makes as lieutenant governor. Already, the skirmish caused by his direct subordinate at the Division of Elections when she sent an unprecedented nasty letter to U.S. Senator Mark Begich demonstrates how murky things get for his staff in their attempts to support him. If Treadwell truly cared about Alaska and its residents, he'd resign and prevent all this confusion, chaos and disorder.
Treadwell took an oath of office and solemnly swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Alaska, and to faithfully discharge his duties as lieutenant governor to the best of his ability, not a fraction of the best of his abilities. He needs to do the right thing and resign.
We need a lieutenant governor who is 100-percent committed and 100-percent focused on his duties. Treadwell understands and has acknowledged that full-time obligation towards his job on his Public Official Financial Disclosure report, where he claimed that his time worked in the elected position of lieutenant governor of Alaska is 12 months/on call 24 hours a day. Clearly, he recognizes that his Senate run cuts into what he was elected to do; to work for 12 full months and be on call for 24 hours. It doesn't leave much time to campaign, so Treadwell must do the right thing for everybody and resign.
Treadwell can't deny that his senate campaign will take up most of his time and focus. Alaskans are short-changed with a part-time lieutenant governor in charge of elections who's off on a lark and preoccupied with sowing his personal partisan political oats while he collects his $110,000+ salary and, at the same time, fundraises and pockets campaign checks and chits. That's just not right. If he is serious about winning the U.S. Senate race, the right thing to do is to resign and give his campaign and supporters the full and complete attention they deserve.
The Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act addresses the prohibitions that relate to partisan political activities on the state's dime and time and misuse of official position. The last thing we need is a fly-by-night lieutenant governor who travels to his campaign events couched as official state business between Barrow and Washington, D.C., and all points in between.
Additionally, since Treadwell has announced his candidacy, he's described plans he has in the works to change the electoral process, such as how he will continue to work on making Alaska elections more accessible, etc.
But, the Ethics Act prohibits public officials to work on matters that provide personal benefit or gain. Either he still does not understand the Ethics Act or he does understand it and continues to flaunt it. Whichever the case, it speaks volumes about his lack of integrity as he continues to control and supervise Alaska's electoral process as lieutenant governor while he runs for the U.S. Senate. Clearly, he can't reconcile the conflict by himself. However, when Treadwell resigns, these conflicts disappear.
Treadwell's also been made aware by me of questionable conduct by his Lieutenant Governor's Office staff. His outreach strategy includes virtually stalking people who contact his office for official business. They also help with his numerous GOP fundraising drives. Additionally, his stint as chair of the GOP Alaska Romney for President steering committee while lieutenant governor doesn't help engender confidence and trust in his moral aptitude.
Throw in the complaint against him by the Alaska Public Offices Commission who found many irregularities, and ... well, the right, ethical and honest thing for Treadwell to do for himself and his staff is to resign.
Alaskans have been embarrassed enough by the circus-like romps of their elected officials these last few years. Between Sarah Palin and Sean 'Earth-is-6,000-years-old' Parnell, Alaska and Alaskans have become a laughing stock.
All hands are on deck to take Mark Begich out. But, with the lieutenant governor as an opponent, who is constitutionally charged with officially running elections and is involved up to his eyeballs in the GOP machinations of the electoral process, Alaska's humiliating and shameful bearing as one of the most ineptly corrupt of our United States is prolonged.
If Treadwell wants to maintain some semblance of dignity and decorum, he can do everyone a good turn -- resign immediately and avoid the sarcastic and cynical embarrassment that his U.S. Senate candidacy poses.
If Treadwell wants to honestly and truly win the U.S. Senate race, he has to resign in order to give it his all.
But, more importantly, Alaskans deserve better. He took an oath. If he really meant it, Treadwell would tender his resignation post haste.
Legal questions aside, Treadwell has to do the right thing. He has to resign.
Andrée McLeod moved to Alaska 35 years ago. She is a registered Republican who believes in the power of the citizen to keep politicians and government bureaucrats in line.
The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, e-mail commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.
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