A former legislator from Nenana is being fined $18,000 for breaking state ethics rules. An investigation found that Alan Dick, a Republican who served one term in the house, had charged the state and his campaign account for the same travel expenses and that he let family members live in his legislative office.
The Legislative Ethics Committee doesn’t mince words in its decision:
“Representative Dick seemed to operate under the premise that rules and regulations regarding legislative travel did not apply to him.”
They say he had a “cavalier mindset,” and that his “lack of attention to detail” was “unacceptable” for a public official.
The committee found Dick in violation of five of the eight charges brought against him, dismissing the rest for insufficient evidence. Their investigation into Dick’s activities started in December, and it involved more than a dozen interviews, examination of Dick’s campaign and legislative filings, and a review of video footage.
Dick admitted that he, his wife, and his son lived in his Fairbanks legislative office on and off last fall, at the height of campaign season. The committee’s investigation found he kept sleeping items in the office, and that staff saw him “coming and going at all times of the day and night.”
Statute prohibits public resource from being used for private benefit. The idea being that you don’t want people to treat state offices like their own hotel rooms or personal apartments to avoid paying rent, especially if there’s no legislative purpose to it.
The committee found that Dick required his legislative staff to prepare him for a Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce candidate debate while on state time.
Dick told the committee he was “confused” about whether that campaign activity could count as legislative work, which the committee scoffed at. Investigation interviews determined that his staff “constantly reminded” him that doing campaign work on government time was inappropriate.
The committee also found that Dick frequently charged the state and his own campaign fund for many of the same activities. The double-charges were as small as $17 for a meal in McGrath and as high as $700 to cover the aviation mileage on his private plane.
His trip to the Alaska Federation of Natives convention last year was one of the most egregious cases: the legislature and his campaign received identical reimbursement requests for his travel and lodging costs, and he also charged the legislature for a rental car upgrade on the trip. Dick admitted to the committee that he was “remiss” and “negligent” when submitting these claims.
As punishment, Dick is being ordered to repay the state $3,500 for the inappropriate charges he submitted. The committee is also hitting him with the cost of the investigation, which came close to $15,000.
Dick has one year to pay up, or he can request a hearing before the ethics committee. If he doesn’t comply with the order, he could face civil charges or be brought before the state House of Representatives.
Dick did not return a request for comment to explain his course of action.
Dick represented a wide swath of the Interior that stretched from Fort Yukon to Marshall. He was elected in 2010, and was in office for just two years, after redistricting put his residence in the same area as Democratic incumbent David Guttenberg and he lost by 300 votes.
Under the new redistricting maps being considered, his home is back in an empty district that resembles the area he represented.