From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage --
Anchorage Democratic Rep. Les Gara has an aggressive challenger on his hands in the Democratic primary. The challenger, Christopher Constant, is taking issue with
this recent op-ed piece Gara wrote defending his House Democratic Campaign Committee fundraising during the legislative session.
Here's what Constant said in a written response to Gara's piece.
"I believe it is flawed ethics for Mr. Gara to stand on a soapbox one day and shout that an action is wrong and should be illegal and then go out and commit that act the next. Rationalizing it by saying that the proverbial "they" are doing do it so I can too does not make it right. It just makes your argument sleazy. For the record, I don't believe Gara broke the law. I just think his actions smack of hypocrisy.
Mr. Gara I challenge you to return the money you raised!," Constant said.
Below is some of what Gara had to say in the op-ed:
It's true that even legal fundraising brings the danger of abuse by those who are dishonest. I've spent much of my career fighting those who would violate the public's trust, and co-authored the law making it a felony for a legislator to sell his vote in exchange for campaign contributions. I've also co-written laws banning the practice of legislators accepting "consulting fees" from businesses seeking legislative favors, and helped pass a strong conflicts of interest law.
But I'm not eager to let my friends on the Republican side raise significant campaign funds, and stand idly by to watch the defeat of good public servants. In this state, Republican candidates have historically enjoyed a large fundraising advantage. I've worked to help narrow that gap, but I've also taken care to ensure that my efforts complied with the law.
Constant also is critical of a letter to the editor that appeared yesterday from Democratic state senators Hollis French and Johnny Ellis.
Another act of bad judgment is the appearance of both Johnny Ellis and Hollis French as operatives in his race with their endorsement of Mr. Gara in the Anchorage Daily News Letters To The Editor yesterday. I know it is against Democratic Party policy to endorse a candidate in a contested primary. Clearly there are some flexible ethics at work here. Worse yet, and I hate even suggesting this-but Mr. Ellis and Mr. French's decision to endorse Gara in a contested primary stings of the good old boy's club lining up around one of its own.
The Honorable Senators misread my statement if they believed I claimed they endorsed my run. In fact, I was reasonably sure they would stay out of it.
Here's the letter to the editor that he's talking about:
Our names recently appeared in a news release issued by a challenger to our colleague Rep. Les Gara. We are writing to make it clear that we are both supporting Gara for re-election. Les is a proven leader on issues ranging from education to oil tax reform to ethics. He works hard for his district and for the people of the state of Alaska. He is very knowledgeable regarding the many issues facing the state, and is a tireless and effective advocate for the needs of working Alaskans, for children, and for the elderly. We believe that Les' constituents have every reason to be proud of his abilities and his public service.
-- Sen. Hollis French
-- Sen. Johnny Ellis