EDITORIAL: Another election, another frivolous complaint

Apparently, defending your good name is an ethics violation — if you’re governor, that is.

Following a misinformed opinion column penned by lieutenant governor-hopeful Craig Fleener, where he accused Gov. Sean Parnell of skipping a planned event at the National Congress of American Indians conference in Anchorage earlier this month, a state Democratic party officer has now filed an ethics complaint against Parnell.

There’s not much of a story here, really, other than the state will now waste time, resources and money on a frivolous complaint that came about because the running mate to one of Parnell’s challengers thought he saw an opportunity to slam the governor but failed in knowing the facts first.

An email provided to the Empire shows that Parnell’s scheduler declined the opportunity to speak at the NCAI conference on May 19 so he could attend his in-laws’ 60th wedding anniversary.

NCAI event programs had Parnell listed as the opening speaker, and when rumors swirled that the governor was a no-show, Fleener saw an opportunity to help out running mate and Independent candidate Bill Walker by wagging his finger at the governor.

Parnell released a statement accusing Fleener of spreading lies, but he did so through his press office and not his campaign office.

Alaska Democratic Party member Lynda Zaugg saw another opportunity to poke Parnell in the eye and filed the ethics complaint.

Calling the governor a no-show can be construed as an attack on Parnell’s character, not just as a candidate for governor but also as the governor. It’s bad for the state if the public is erroneously led to believe its highest elected official stood up a gathering of Alaska’s First People.

Zaugg’s complaint of state resources being misused, in our opinion, will only lead to the misuse of state resources as the complaint is investigated. We’ll let you know how much it cost once the state is done investigating.

An apology and correction from Fleener was published June 24 in the Anchorage Daily News, where his commentary first printed.

“When (Parnell) did not take the stage after he was introduced and I was told by an organizer that he was delayed in traffic, the universal opinion was that Gov. Parnell was a no show. ... While I did check my sources all the way to the top of those in charge at the conference and made the statements I made in good faith, I apologize for stating Governor Parnell was an unexcused no-show.”

Running mate Walker sent out his own release defending Fleener’s original column, placing blame on NCAI for the inaccurate program and on Parnell for not addressing the crowd by video.

“It’s disappointing that Governor Parnell personally attacks Craig Fleener’s integrity, stepping over the true message raised by his article,” Walker said in the statement.

“ ... Parnell’s absence from the candidate forum hosted by AFN was known in advance to all candidates and is not the absence mentioned in Fleener’s article.”

It’s unfortunate that not only did Fleener step in “it,” but Walker refuses to acknowledge the smell.

Regardless, state dollars will be used to clean up the mess it has caused.

07/08/2014 - 5:40am