A week from Tuesday voters in Alaska get a chance to vote on whether they want Clean Elections in their state. Appearing on the ballot as Measure 3, the Clean Elections Initiative would provide a full public financing option for candidates running for state office. Papers in the state have been alive with the sound of debate over the initiative right alongside coverage of Alaska's growing list of legislators under investigation, awaiting trial, or imprisoned.
The indictment of Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) in connection with the wide-ranging Veco Corp. bribery scandal has put fresh attention on Alaska's corruption problems and should put some momentum behind Measure 3. As Tim June, who heads up Alaskans for Clean Elections, writes in this piece for the Anchorage Daily News, Clean Elections would do a lot to free legislators from the chase for industry cash and put them back in service to the voters:
Alaska's ongoing FBI investigations and the Veco corruption scandal indicate we have a serious need to return accountability to our government. During these past few years, we have witnessed Alaska legislators and lobbyists giving and taking bribes, indicted and convicted of conspiracy, mail fraud, tax fraud, money laundering and extortion.
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This insidious political corruption has likely cost our state billions of dollars in undercollected oil tax revenues and even more in lost opportunities. Public funding of campaigns effectively begins to remove big money and special interests from Alaska politics and allows a critical issue like oil taxation to get the attention it needs and deserves.
Will Alaska voters say "enough is enough" on August 26th and become the 8th state to join the Clean Elections roster? We shall see.