Commentary: Oil stocks and Alaska Lawmakers don't mix

What was supposed to have been a day trade turned into a headache for Rep. Jay Ramras last week, when Conservatives 4 Palin blogger Rebecca Mansour took him to task for a $172,000 investment in BP. Ramras, a critic of Palin's Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA), bought the stock in 2008 about a month after voting against awarding the AGIA license to TransCanada, a pipeline company.

The gist of Mansour's argument is that Ramras has a substantial financial interest in BP, which has joined Conoco Phillips in the rival Denali gas pipeline project.

The implication is that Ramras, as a legislator, can benefit himself by boosting the Denali project, which presumably could boost the price of BP's stock.

Ramras said last week that his BP stock purchase had nothing to do with Alaska. He said he bought the stock expecting the company to resolve a problem with work in one of the former Soviet republics, and figured he could make a quick thousand or two in profit with a jump in BP's price.

"I wish I would have only owned it for 24 hours," he said.

Instead, BP stock went down. Ramras held it and bought 5,000 more shares this spring to take advantage of dividends the stock paid. He said all of this has been a day trading exercise, and he said the notion that he can influence the stock price of a multinational like BP is ludicrous. And even if he could, whatever gain he made wouldn't be worth it.

"What kind of person would risk their integrity for a small gain?" he asked.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.