The recent disclosure in the January 1st Frontiersman of Mr.Ogan's employment as a "consultant" for Evergreen Resources Corporation of Colorado was extremely disturbing. The Frontiersman's excellent Janurary 5th editorial was even more illuminating.
While researching the legality of Ogan's actions, I spoke with Mr. Charles Brown, Dir. Of Legislative Counsel of the Colorado Assembly regarding Evergreen's ability to hire Colorado legislators as consultants. Mr. Brown stated that there is no law barring such a relationship, but, that the legislator would be careful to ensure that there not be any conflict of interest. That legislator would not take the job if there was a committee assignment which might cause a conflict of interest. When I described Mr. Ogan's list of committee assignments and the disclosed nature of Ogan's consultancy with Evergreen, he expressed the opinion that Ogan's relationship "smelled". Mr. Brown agreed with me that there was a definite cause for concern regarding the potential for conflict of interest in Ogan's relationship with Evergreen. Mr. Brown was also interested in the degree of influence exercised upon subordinate bodies of government by such a relationship. In the January 1st article, Mr. Ogan stated that he is ".
In the January 1st article, Mr. Ogan stated that he is ". . . drawing a very bright line between what I do with the Legislature and what I do with Evergreen." There is no "bright line" or fine line or any line, for that matter. The matter of fact nature of the disclosure makes one wonder if Mr. Ogan even understands the concept of "confict of interest". Or, how important it is that he keep his public office free of even the inference of taint.
How is Ogan's conduct a conflict of interest? Let me count the
- Chair: House Oil & Gas;
- Vice-chair: House Judiciary;
- Member: House Finance Subcommittee Administration;
- Member: House Finance Subcommittee Environmental Conservation;
- Member: House Finance Subcommittee Natural Resources;
- Member: House Legislative Council;
- Member: House Majority Caucus;
- Member: House Joint Committee on Natural Gas Pipelines;
- Member: House Transportation;
and, finally, but not the least of which,
- Representative, Alaska State House
A consultant is, in effect, and as admitted to by Mr. Ogan, a paid lobbyist: ". . . acting as an advisor for local public relations issues and strategical (sic) matters" And, as the article states: "And, that gives Ogan more reason to tout Evergreen's positive future." How is Mr. Ogan acting as a lobbyist? On Dec. 18, 2001, he was actively lobbying before the elected assembly of our borough. A subordinate subdivision of state government. What do the assembly members see and hear when Ogan speaks? After all, who takes the assembly's wish list to Juneau for funding?
As a state representative, Ogan's first duty, and only duty, while holding that office is to his constituents, not to an outside corporation, much less his own business of that as cabinet maker. It is paramount to the integrity of his elected office and his own credibility and integrity that he hold such commercial relationships at arms length, and to avoid any perceived conflicts of interest. During past campaigns, Ogan stated several times that his job as a legislator was "full time". Now, he has time to be a paid consultant, too?
In the recent past, the mere inference of any conflict of interest has served to separate politicians from their elected offices. Remember Jerry Sanders? Then Rep. Jerry Sanders of Eagle River lost his office last election due to a perceived conflict of interest in his use of envelopes and stationary emblazoned with his office as state representative for a mass mailing to his constituents during an election year. Mr. Sanders did not peddle the influence of his office to a foreign domiciled corporation, he merely wrote a letter to his constituents.
Mr. Ogan's conduct is an insult to his constituents. He put his personal gain over his elected office. An elected office that Scott has characterised in each and every re-election as "the best job" he has ever had; that made him very "proud" to "serve". One would think that the $46,520-$60,000+ that Ogan has received in salary and per diem each year as a representative would be enough while he occupies elected office. ( 2000 session Report Date: 12/31/00: $24,012 base salary + $3,510 long term per diem + $18,998 Session Per Diem.)
There may not be any definable breach of the law in Ogan's conduct, but, the bottom line is this: if Scott Ogen gets by with this, legislators will be able to openly hire themselves out to the highest paying employer, and the illusion of "we the people" having a voice in Juneau, or wherever, will be shattered forever.
I believe that Scott Ogan should make a full and complete public disclosure of his contractual arrangement with Evergreen, including compensation.
Since this article was written
On 1/25/2002, Evergreen testified before the Oil & Gas Committee. Ogan
did not recuse himself.