In Alaska, political bribery is just okay

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 04:27 PM

I couldn't add much to this absurdity, so here's the relevant excerpt from an Alaskan newspaper:

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A lobbyist can walk up to an Alaska lawmaker, hand that lawmaker cash for his re-election campaign and exert a promise that he will vote for the lobbyist's bill in return.

And neither the lobbyist nor the legislator would be breaking state law.

Alaska bribery laws exclude campaign contributions, a new legal opinion reveals. That means that as long as a contribution is disclosed to the Alaska Public Offices Commission, a person can give or promise to give campaign cash in exchange for that legislator's influence.

"There is nothing in current criminal law that prohibits a legislator from changing a vote in exchange for a campaign contribution," reads the opinion by legislative counsel Dan Wayne.

That does not mean lawmakers are free to just pocket money for their votes on important bills. Such quid pro quo is prohibited by the state's legislative ethics code, plus campaign contributions can't be made while the Legislature is in session.

How do you distinguish between a legislator merely changing a vote in exchange for a campaign contribution, and the no-no of legislators just pocketing money for their votes on important bills?

Good question.