In a statement posted March 5th, 2008 on the Anchorage Daily News' Alaska Politics blog, Anchorage's Downtown Assemblyman Allan Tesche formally admits to giving KUDO progressive radio host Aaron Selbig a copy of the now-infamous tape recording of fellow Assembly members Dan Coffey and Bill Starr expressing themselves in a moment of raw personal candor. This issue was previously discussed HERE.
Here's the meat of Tesche's statement, while preserving much of the context:
The message in question was left on my machine on Feb 12th. My wife and I did not listen to the message for the first time until Feb 16th. When I first heard the message, I thought it was a joke. It quickly became apparent that it was much more serious than that.
After a couple of days of consideration, I decided that the appropriate action, given the potentially unethical and illegal behavior that was being discussed in the tape, was to release the recording to both the APOC and the FBI. And I also decided, given the public nature of politics, to release the recording to the press, because I felt there is always a right for the public to know what their elected officials are saying when they are discussing public business. To have failed in either of these actions would have rendered me complicit in the inappropriateness of their behavior.
Tesche claims that the conversation, although intended to be private, ceased to be private when Coffey, by his own negligence, inadvertently made it public. And of course, being a lawyer, Tesche hints at possible charges of libel if Coffey doesn't back down. However, the latter is likely just posturing on Tesche's part, because Alaska statutes take a dim view of surreptitiously recording another person without their knowledge.
If Tesche was really motivated by ethics rather than by politics, then he wouldn't have released the tape to the public in the first place, instead giving it only to the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC). But if he truly believed the public interest demanded immediate public disclosure, why didn't he first release the tape to an officially "neutral" mainstream media outlet like the Anchorage Daily News or KTUU Channel 2 instead of to a partisan talk-radio host? Tesche doesn't merely appear on KUDO talk radio from time to time; he uses KUDO as a quasi-official mouthpiece, an opportunity not afforded to other Assembly members, most of who have more conservative politics.
By refusing to immediately own up to having given the tape to a partisan talk-radio host, and by giving it out to a partisan talk-radio host rather than a mainstream media outlet, Tesche has damaged his own credibility and placed himself upon the same ethical platform as Dan Coffey and Bill Starr, the two Assembly members he sanctimoniously condemns. Tesche maintains a personal blog where he records his prespective on the Assembly meetings he attends; he tends to keep his partisanship within acceptable limits on this blog most of the time.
While it's true that Allan Tesche has reached term limits and is not running for re-election, there's talk he might run for mayor in 2009. Should he do so, this incident needs to be remembered and recalled to ensure the voters do not put such a partisan, vindictive man at the helm of the city. He would end up being the Rocky Anderson of Anchorage, and Salt Lake City is still paying for the sins of the real Rocky Anderson.