Alaska AG urged to act as Fed trial exposes corruption

Legal News Line Sep. 28, 2007, 6:16am

JUNEAU -- Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg intends staying on the sidelines even as more potentially illegal activities by state politicians await the light of day in federal corruption trials. That's despite the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) launching a probe into allegations that disgraced oil services firm Veco illegally paid for politicians' polling. APOC has one full-time investigator, the Anchorage Daily News (ADN) reported yesterday. Anchorage Democrats Les Gara and Harry Crawford recently wrote to APOC and the AG's office urging state action on criminal acts by state politicians, ADN reported. "The scope of this misconduct is unprecedented, and taking no action simply condones this conduct," they wrote. The APOC director told ADN she might hand the results of any findings on illegal poll payments to Colberg's office, which can bring criminal charges. The AG could then deploy his law enforcement officials and prosecutors to pursue the case. Colberg was criticized more than four months ago for lack of action as state politicians were arrested and began surrendering to federal authorities over their connections to Veco, LNL reported. He instructed state lawyers in early May to begin probing violations not covered by FBI charges. But Colberg recently told the ADN he was now treading carefully out of respect for the federal government's ongoing actions against the politicians. "They've made it clear enough that they appreciate us not stepping into the middle of something that's ongoing," he said. Eagle River Republican Pete Kott was convicted Tuesday on federal charges of conspiracy, bribery and extortion. During his recent trial it emerged that Veco had illegally paid for political polls, including a $20,000 survey for then-Gov. Frank Murkowski. Two other state Republican representatives, Vic Kohring and Bruce Weyhrauch, will next face trial on similar federal charges to Kott. Other Alaska politicians, including long-serving U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, are still under FBI investigation.

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