Senator Anna MacKinnon (R, Eagle River) is the new co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Her husband, John MacKinnon, is the executive director of Associated General Contractors of Alaska. Senator MacKinnon doesn’t think it’s a conflict of interest. She’s wrong.
If you want to split hairs, it’s probably not a violation of the loosey-goosey Alaska Legislature Standards of Conduct, AS 24.60.010 – .995. As just one example of how loosey-goosey the rules are, they don’t expressly prohibit the spouse of the chair of the committee in charge of public works from being the head of the largest single beneficiary of the public works budget. That would be the Associated General Contractors of Alaska.
You average person on the street would think that’s a conflict of interest. WC thinks AS 24.60, which defines the minimum acceptable conduct to avoid going to jail, isn’t the benchmark for proper conduct. The floor isn’t the ceiling, as it were. WC expects his elected representative to aspire just a bit higher than simply not being criminal defendants. Oh, wait, violations of the ethics rules go to a toothless, hapless committee of legislators, not the justice system. Which makes it worse.
Remember, many members of the Alaska Legislature saw nothing wrong with wearing Corrupt Bastard Club baseball caps. Just to give you a flavor of the kind of judgment we’ve seen in the past.
Something can be legal and still be morally and ethically wrong. But that seems to be too subtle a distinction for Senator MacKinnon.
UPDATE: Don’t believe WC? Then ask the [former] governor of Oregon.