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The challenged truths of three elected representatives

  • By Rich Moniak
  • Friday, January 20, 2023 6:17pm
  • Opinion

Last Friday, the state Supreme Court affirmed that state Rep. Jennifer Armstrong, D-Anchorage, did not violate the Alaska Constitution three-year residency requirement to run for the Legislature. That followed a Superior Court ruling which denied a challenge to state Rep. David Eastman’s, R-Wasilla, qualifications to hold office. And across the country, U.S. Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., was sworn into Congress without a court challenge to his widely spun web of lies.

Armstrong’s case essentially boiled down one possibly dishonest representation. The other two are about elected representatives who are qualified to hold office despite being divorced from reality.

In November, Armstrong easily beat Liz Vasquez. Just prior to the election though, four Vazquez supporters filed a lawsuit alleging that she “did not demonstrate the intent to remain in Alaska until at least June 7, 2019, but possibly later than June 23, 2019 and as late as August 26, 2019.” Respectively, those dates were based on a statement Armstrong posted on Instagram, her 2020 resident fishing license application, and the date when she obtained an Alaska driver’s license and registered to vote.

Alaska Constitution’s somewhat arbitrary residency clause establishes that a person must have lived in the state for at least three years to be eligible to run for a legislative seat. But the Superior Court judge dismissed the driver’s license and voter registration as “not dispositive of the exact date of residency,” and found the remaining evidence offered by the plaintiffs unconvincing.

The Supreme Court upheld that ruling. But one of the three justices dissented. Had it been 2-1 the other way, Armstrong would have been disqualified from holding office. Yet the offense of falsely declaring the date her state residency began could easily fit into a category described by Don Feder in the Washington Times – “Politicians lying is nothing new.”

The conservative columnist offered that argument in defense of Santos after the lies he told during his campaign were uncovered.

Santos claimed he received a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Baruch College and that he’d been employed by Goldman Sachs or Citigroup. He later admitted he never attended Baruch or any other college and “never worked directly” for either company.

In a campaign position paper about Israel, Santos claimed to be “a Proud American Jew.” But has since stated he’s a Catholic and “never claimed to be Jewish.”

The list goes on and on. Joseph G. Cairo Jr., Chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee, justifiably demanded he resign from Congress for running “a campaign of deceit, lies and fabrication.”

Santos shrugged it all off as mere embellishments.

That’s “otherwise known as lying,” Feder wrote. And he added a caveat to excusing it.

“Reprehensible as all of this is, the politicians you really have to worry about are the ones who can’t tell the difference between truth and lies.”

• Rich Moniak is a Juneau resident and retired civil engineer with more than 25 years of experience working in the public sector. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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