Cowdery needs to take just one more step: down

Posted: Friday, July 25, 2008

Sen. John Cowdery has done the right thing, resigning as chairman of the Legislative Council.

Cowdery is under indictment and accused of bribery and conspiracy for scheming with VECO Corp. executives Bill Allen and Rick Smith to buy the vote of an un-named senator on oil tax legislation.

The 78-year-old Republican lawmaker from Anchorage, who was indicted two weeks ago, says his health is the reason for stepping down.

Gene Therriault, the Republican Minority Leader who leads a five-person minority caucus that doesn't include Cowdery, has called for the senator's resignation since it was revealed he was involved in the former VECO executives' actions during the trials of other lawmakers.

Whether for health reasons or not, stepping down as chair of the Legislative Council is a good first step for Cowdery to take. However, it's still one step short of what he needs to do: resign from the Senate.

Cowdery told Senate President Lyda Green, R-Wasilla of his decision to resign in a letter Monday, saying he was not well enough to continue with his responsibilities as the council chairman.

"The day-to-day operations of the committee and its oversight is a time intensive job that demands the full attention of the chairman to work smoothly and efficiently," Cowdery said in the letter. "Due to my continuing health issues I feel I cannot fulfill the duties required of me to fully accomplish the goals of the Legislative Council."

Cowdery's connections to the VECO scandal will keep him from fulfilling all the duties he swore to uphold when he took the oath to represent Alaskans in the Senate.

Out of respect for what the people of this state deserve, it is time to put this dark cloud of indictments behind us and move forward.

We urge the federal government to wrap up their investigations and other possible indictments so the Legislature can focus their attention on getting back to the state's business of looking out for our future.

At the very least, it's what all Alaskans deserve.

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