Sunday, February 16, 2014

Peter Micciche: Direct Deposit Bribery

It used to be when someone bribed or paid off a politician, money was stuffed in a paper sack and passed off in some back room.  But Alaska now operates a corporatocracy, a government run by corporations. If you work in the oil industry, and are elected to the Alaska Legislature, when you pass bills that benefit your company, you get a pay raise.

And that seems to be exactly what happened with State Senator Peter Micciche. When he ran for the senate seat, Micciche reported an income of somewhere between $100,000-200,000, not including stock options or perks. This year, just 10 months after passing Senate Bill 21 which gave the major oil companies an annual $2 Billion tax rebate, Micciche reports that his salary from ConocoPhillips now is somewhere between $200,000 and $500,000, not including stock options and perks. Read about it here.

Because of the state's very lax income-reporting laws, Micicche does not have to be more specific, so it could be that he got a one-buck raise, from $199,999 to $200,000. If that was the case, Peter, whose ego makes him the King of Grandstanding, would have flaunted the meager increase. Peter has promised all along to be completely transparent, because goodness knows as he says, there is no conflict of interest between him being an executive with an oil company and voting on bills that benefit his company. Well, why not be completely transparent? At least that would keep bloggers like me from saying his salary increase looks like legalized bribery.

It could be that he got the raise because he did some exemplary work as the superintendent of Kenai's C/P LNG plant, but that thing has been mothballed for a couple of years. That's certainly not making ConocoPhillips any money.

It's funny, but just this last week, Micciche accused Representative Les Gara of grandstanding because Les returned the unused portion of the $16,000/20,000 allocated to representatives/senators for office expenditures. No word on how much Peter actually spent on office expenses and how much he (legally) pocketed thanks to a law passed by Mike Chenault. Oh, yeah, Mike and Kurt Olson have been pocketing the full amount, $16,000 allotted for Representatives ever since the bill passed several years ago. No receipts were required to show that any of that money was spent on office supplies. The law has been tweaked for next year - legislatures will now have to provide receipts for actual expenses. Les was at least being honest, a quality lost on Micciche. Read more about it here.

If you are on Facebook, undoubtedly you saw the post by Micciche inviting constituents to take part in a survey - here's the link.

Mr Ego (the guy who said Les Gara was grandstanding) has his handsome mug on the page - let's not forget that this is all about him. He asks us for our opinions about what should be legislative priorities, but the survey is nothing but a republican push poll. All of the questions only give the constituent answers that support a very narrow point of view. Or worse, the question itself only offers a limited point of view.

Question 1 - It has yet to be shown that if Alaska invests in a natural gas pipeline, energy costs to consumers would go down. Certainly, his company stands to make billions.
Question 2 - It's already a done deal. Of course, Alaska should honor a commitment to state workers. (I am a semi-retired recipient of state retirement benefits)
Question 3 - Another loaded question and impossible to answer with a yes/no response.
Question 4 - If Peter wants to improve education, breaking things down to sound bites that feed into the governor's and legislature's desire to fund private schools will not improve education.
Question 5 - Why is this question even on this - Change the AK constitution to fund religious schools? If this is the direction citizens want to go, it should be grassroots driven. Circulate a petition and get it on the ballot.
Question 6 - The worst of the lot. Peter would love to fast-track the Chuitna and Pebble Mines, and to hell with clean water and air. By the way, his company, ConocoPhillips is the #3 polluter in the US. Imagine the pay raise he would get if they could turn Alaska into a toxic waste dump.
Questions 7-12 all offer limited and agenda-promoting options.

My priority would be to tighten up government conflict of interest laws. Let's at least pretend that our state government is not tainted by corruption.

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