Senator Micciche: Delusions Of Grandeur
Last Sunday, in my Anchorage Daily News column, I wrote about the conflict of interest of newly minted Senator Peter Micciche. A Republican from Soldotna, Mr. Micciche works for Conoco Phillips and has for decades. He now sits on the Resource Committee — one of the most powerful in the Senate, and not only is he a member, he’s vice-chairman of the special sub-committee reviewing the bill to slash oil taxes.
I was hoping the Senator would realize, because of the conflict of his employer, he wouldn’t be allowed on a jury or as a judge. How does he not understand he shouldn’t be sitting in positions that MAKE LAWS that benefit his bosses. Specific bills like SB 21 – Sean Parnell’s $2 Billion Bail-out for Nothing.
(Side note: Micciche’s boss — Conoco Phillips — made $2.3 Billion in profit in Alaska in 2012. As Senator Wielechowski put it, “ConocoPhillips had a pretty decent year last year in Alaska – $262,500 per HOUR in profit, 365 days per year.” Or as Governor Parnell calls it, “Closed for business”.)
Senator Micciche – maybe feeling a little scuffed from my column – apparently decided to soothed his chapped hide with the soothing balm of a friendly media outlet. Squeezed from the tube of Petroleum News was this bit:
Reporter Steve Quinn: You’ve already received pushback on possible conflict of interest. How do you respond to the criticism?
As one of his critics, I was on the edge of my seat. (No really, I was, don’t judge me!)
Senator Micciche: If you go back to the forefathers of the United States, the folks who wrote the Constitution, the folks who served in early Congress, they were all in agriculture and in similar industries and they regulated agriculture and similar industries.
OK. Stop. This was a very long interview and I couldn’t get past the first three lines.
He thinks his “not really a conflict of interest” is no different than what our forefathers were up against?! As a Daughter of the American Revolution, I’m offended. Mr. Micciche, your powdered wig is on WAY too tight, sir. If you’re sleeping in a three cornered hat, you may want to stop that -it’s causing delusions of grandeur.
Oh, I know you’re thinking Sweet Pete is new to the Senate and I should go easy on him. Whatever. Alaska’s future hangs in the imbalance of lawmakers like him. Put your big boy pants on.
I guess “agriculture and in similar industries” sounds harmless enough if you don’t remember that agriculture was dependent on slavery. Gee, I wonder why “All men are created equal” didn’t include, well, all men – including the black ones. Oh, that’s right – economic interests. Clearly, for 12 of the founders including Mason and Washington, their ownership of slaves could have omitted them from any such vote had it come up. Jefferson and Madison were Virginia planters (agriculture and similar industries to Micciche) and were completely at odds with Hamilton of who would nationalize their resource. (Big scoop here: the founders didn’t agree on control of resources – sort of like now.) Four were in “securities” – banking. Thirty-Five were lawyers and would have been familiar with how “conflict of interest” or the appearance of such a conflict should be dealt with.
A friend gave me Gordon S. Wood’s book Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different — give it a whirl if you like books without pictures. Wood talks about the journey many of the founders made into “character”. They worked to earn their identities. There was an exception taken with Aaron Burr. His “willingness to use politics for private gain” was his conspiracy, according to Wood, not a conspiracy against the government.
With all that Conoco Phillips stock, Mr. Micciche will, in fact, be able to affect his “private gain” with politics.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure the Founding Forefathers were more advanced on racial equality and women’s rights than some of the mouth breathers in Juneau.
There’s also that pesky state of Alaska statute that’s pretty clear:
Alaska Statutes 24.60.030: Unless required by the Uniform Rules of the Alaska State Legislature, a legislator may not vote on a question if the legislator has an equity or ownership interest in a business, investment, real property, lease, or other enterprise if the interest is substantial and the effect on that interest of the action to be voted on is greater than the effect on a substantial class of persons to which the legislator belongs as a member of a profession, occupation, industry, or region.
Mr. Micciche, you’re looking a long way back and far too South. You have an opportunity few elected officials in this country can claim. Alaska is lucky enough to still have a Founding Father with us. Vic Fischer wrote our Constitution. Call him. Ask him about what Owner State means and the best way to uphold your oath to THE VERY DOCUMENT HE WROTE.
Here’s a question for Mr. Micciche: Under what circumstances would you think someone has a conflict of interest?
I’m starting to miss former Senator Tom Wagoner who lost in the primary to Micciche. Yes, he was the only vote against making bestiality illegal in Alaska – but that seems somehow charming after this week.