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US Senate race: Challenger Ray Metcalfe, Democrat

  • Author: Ray Metcalfe
    | Opinion
  • Updated: November 5, 2016
  • Published November 5, 2016

Ray Metcalfe. (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News)

Getting the dirty money out of politics and ending pay to play has been my No. 1 priority for 30 years.

I was the whistleblower who helped the FBI and federal prosecutors convict Veco Corp. owner Bill Allen for bribing your legislators. Six legislators were convicted of accepting bribes in exchange for their vote to tax Alaska's oil at far less than its real tax value. Corruption had gone on for 30 years; every Alaskan has paid the price.

Had Alaska been paid what Prudhoe Bay was worth, and had legislators deposited the additional payments in the Permanent Fund, the fund would be about five times larger and your annual dividend would have grown to about $10,000 by now. If it were not for 30 years of corrupt control, the Legislature would now be in position to pay dividends and fund government from the earnings for perpetuity.

To see firsthand what corruption is costing you today, look no further than your PFD cut in half. Look to the $16 billion in state savings now being spent down to pay for government. It was saved thanks to legislation passed after the jailing of those accepting bribes from oil. It took six years for the oil companies to buy your Legislature back, and now we are going broke again.

When I started the referendum to overturn Senate Bill 21, better known as "The Big Oil Tax Giveaway Bill," I knew it would be an expensive fight. We came very close to winning even though the oil companies spent 30 times what we were able to raise. Ask yourself: How can global warming issues be addressed while the fossil fuel industry can easily provide 30 times the campaign funding as those who wish to fix global warming?

Political parties and a majority of your elected officials on both sides of the aisle, have developed mutual dependencies between themselves and large donors seeking rewards. After contributing, large donors pay lobbyists to remind those they helped elect what they expect in return. It's a never-ending cycle of trading campaign contributions for appropriations, tax breaks and other economic benefits.

You may have heard about a split within the Democratic Party. The split boils down to Democrats who wish to bring an abrupt halt to the pay to play games, and Democrats who just want to end pay to play for the other guys.

With a vote of 27 to 6, the elected members of the Democratic Party's Platform Committee inserted the following 38 words into the proposed platform at the Democratic Party State Convention.

• "We support legislation that requires elected officials to declare a conflict of interest and recuse themselves from voting on legislation appropriating cash, resources, or competitive advantages, to themselves, their family, their employers, their business partners, or their contributors."

The old guard was so anxious to exclude such language from the platform they adjourned the convention to prevent the above language from coming up for a vote.

I want to make it a serious crime to fail to recuse one's self from voting when one has such conflicts.

My other priorities mirror those of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and I'm the only U.S. Senate candidate who has endorsed Sanders' agenda.

Develop responsibly, protect the environment, and get paid market value for our resources; that's my motto. Addressing the political corruption that permeates our political system is my No. 1 priority.

If elected, I will represent you — the people of Alaska, not special interests. Having me for your senator would be almost as good as being senator yourself.

Ray Metcalfe is Alaska's Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2016. He is a former state legislator and longtime political activist.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email to commentary@alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com

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