Government Ethics: Alaska vs. Pennsylvania

Amanda Carpenter writes about a report that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin may be cited (though no penalties would be attached) for ethics violations for … wait for it … using her fame to raise fund for her legal defense against other nuisance complaints.

Contrast that with the case of Vince Fumo, who not only did the same (using his status to raise legal defense funds), but also used his clout to get legions of politicos and business leaders to write letters to the judge, asking for lenience, since Fumo had done good when he other people’s money legally. None of this is considered unethical in Pennsylvania. Of course, stealing millions of dollars is frowned upon in Pennsylvania, but only deserving of a slap on the wrist.

With little indication of a sense of irony, Rep. Mark Cohen has made a few comments on Twitter about Gov. Palin’s ethics accusations (and about Mark Sanford). Naturally, the guy who spent $30,000 of taxpayer money for books for personal use would want to chime in on whether Palin may or have not benefited from her office. The guy who let taxpayers foot the bill for his trips to New York (even while other lawmakers paid their own way) sees fit to comment on Mark Sanford’s travel habits. Of course, Cohen also sees no need to adopt good-government reforms in Pennsylvania.

Another Pennsylvania House Democrat staffer also saw fit to post on the Palin story, again with an amazing lack of self reflection. After all, it is his caucus (two members and several staff) who have been indicted in “Bonusgate” for using tax dollars for bonuses for campaign work, political polling, and no-work jobs for candidates and mistresses. And one of those indicted members – Mike Veon – has implicated his boss and others for doing the same sort of illegal activity. Of course, they aren’t merely using “fame” to raise money to defend these charges, they are using taxpayer dollars.

And I’d be remiss if I failed to point out that former Pennsylvania lawmaker Frank LaGrotta – also a convicted felon – is now blogging about Pennsylvania politics. In his latest, he longs for the good old days, when folks like Fumo, Veon, and he ran the show.

Pennsylvania may not be the most corrupt state in the union (what will Illinois having back-to-back Governors heading off to prison), but it’s got to be close. Could you imagine what Pennsylvania would be like with Alaska’s ethics laws?