Campaigning on state-paid travel is considered by Alaska lawmakers

The Anchorage Daily NewsMarch 1, 2011 

A bill that would let lawmakers campaign while traveling on the state's dime and use legislative mailing lists for their re-election efforts is drawing questions.

"I knew the moment it was introduced that it would be controversial," said Anchorage Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski, who holds the bill in his committee.

Wielechowski said he's skeptical of the proposal. But he said he'll likely give it a hearing and let North Pole Republican Sen. John Coghill come and make the case.

Coghill, the sponsor of Senate Bill 89, said he wants people to hear him out and not jump to conclusions. "As long as a guy can give a reasoned answer for what he stands for, I think people are willing to give you the benefit of thoughtfulness," he said.

He described the ethics bill as a task handed to him by the Legislature's ethics committee and several other lawmakers. He said he doesn't mind because he has experience in working on ethics laws but is aware of the pitfalls.

"It's a ticklish issue... it has to be handled deliberately, purposefully and resolutely. I guess I got the short straw when it came to wander out on this one," he said.

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