Olson cleared of ethics violations allegations
A complaint questioning the credibility of a Golovin senator’s moving expenses was dismissed, according to a decision released Thursday.
Last November, the Legislative Ethics Committee began an investigation into whether Sen. Don Olson (D-Golovin) violated the state’s moving policy by shipping certain goods at state expense in 2015 and again in 2016.
Some items questioned in his 1,000-plus-mile move from Golovin to Juneau for the legislative session include an 860-pound roll top desk ($4,188); 100-pound wood lathe ($487); sawhorse ($73) and a 75-pound air compressor ($360).
Additional items moved in 2016 and considered during the investigation were: 430-pound washer and dryer ($1,500); weed wacker ($53); 40 pounds of tools ($140) and a 20-pound miter box ($70).
The investigator ruled that the Legislative Council Moving Policy guiding moves those years “did not clearly prohibit Senator Olson from shipping the items.”
According to the decision:
“The Senate Subcommittee determined Senator Olson did not use public funds and services for his private benefit and did not make a false statement or claim to transport these items.“
The decision, however, did not completely let Olson off the hook. The decision said Olson made an “aggressive use” of the state’s moving policy.
It also noted:
“(T)he fact he used state funds to move a significant number of personal goods that were questionable household goods was contrary to the Legislative Ethics Act finding and purpose and to the spirit of the moving policy and therefore, resulted in a very strong appearance of impropriety.”
On Thursday afternoon, Olson issued a statement, saying distance, logistics and having a large family contribute to the moving costs and selected goods.
"I serve the largest state senate district in the nation,” Olson said in a prepared statement. “My family and I live in one of the most remote villages in the state. It is not road accessible.
“It is approximately 1,000 miles 'as the crow flies' from Juneau. In addition to myself and my wife, my family includes six children, two of which are newborns. These factors contribute to high relocation costs.”
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