You've got to hand it to the Murkowskis. Not only are they able to get others to donate time, money - land - to them for little or nothing, they then go on to trash the people who did that. Yesterday, in Juneau, Sen. Murkowski was interviewed by Associated Press reporter, Steve Quinn. Sen. Murkowski, when asked about the guilty plea to Federal charges by her father's former chief-of-staff, Jim Clark, stated, "I'm angry; I'm upset. Jim broke the public trust, and that was wrong.
"He was a man he's known for years and trusted. [Clark] let him down, he let the state down in a very, very big way."
What Clark did, that upset Sen. Murkowski so much, was to use almost $70,000 the former had solicited from Veco, to commission polls on her father's chances for re-election in 2006. Unlike other figures in the GOP corruption scandals of the past two years, Clark didn't pocket any money.
In fact, Clark gave up a lucrative personal practice in late 2002, to work for Frank Murkowski, just before Lisa was appointed to her father's job - by her father. Clark probably gave up about $800,000 in personal income to work for Murkowski, a man in whom Clark erroneously and foolishly, placed his trust.
I have friends who were guests at the Clark residence in Juneau or lived down the street from the family, during Clark's tenure as chief-of-staff. They've described how Clark would often work until 11:00 p.m. and get back up at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. to attend to the Governor's affairs.
This is not to excuse Jim Clark. But, by bringing this up in such a self-serving way, Sen. Lisa Murkowski begs some comparisons:
• Former Rep. Tom Anderson - around $10,000 taken from Veco
• Former Rep. Pete Koch - less than $10,000 taken from Veco
• Former Rep. Vic Kohring - the price of a used riding lawnmower and about 250 cheeseburgers taken from Veco
• Sen. Lisa Murkowski - between $70,000 and $170,000 taken from Anchorage slum landlord Bob Penney in a shady real estate deal.
I know, I know, Sen. Murkowski sold the property back to Penney, once the word got out on the deal. But she initially tried to keep it, stating, "I bought the property from a friend that I think I have known since I was probably 5. It was before elementary school, let's put it that way. My husband knew him before he knew me. So we go back a long way."
It was only after a firestorm of criticism and probable ethics investigations - at the very least - came hammering down on Lisa, that she did the right thing. But her pattern of actions then help to explain her ingratitude toward Clark now.
What Sen. Murkowksi should have done, what her father should have done, in the time since Clark's plea, is to ask themselves, "Have we possibly asked too much of people like Clark and Penney?"