SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Veco case may spark charges from state
Anchorage Daily News


May 12, 2007

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Attorney General Talis Colberg has directed state lawyers to begin criminal and civil investigations into Veco and related parties after company chief executive officer Bill Allen and a vice president pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges of bribery and conspiracy.

Colberg told state lawyers to look into issues not addressed by the federal case. The Alaska Public Offices Commission also is looking into possible violations.

In another development, Gov. Sarah Palin urged indicted state Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, to consider stepping down. The governor said it wasn't in her power to demand that he resign, but said he should think about it.

"There is certainly a cloud over the seat he represents right now and, with so much on his plate in terms of the need to defend himself, I think he has got to consider that. That's my personal opinion," Palin said.

Palin also removed Allen from a council created to foster cooperation with Alberta, Canada, in areas such as transportation, Native issues, and trade and investment. She said it was inappropriate for him to serve the state.

As for Kohring, he said he's staying in the Legislature.

"I do not feel I would serve the best interest of my constituents by walking away at this time," Kohring said in a written statement. "The House leadership has made a decision regarding my committee chair position, but also made it very clear they expect to see me working in my capacity as a legislator."

After being indicted, Kohring was stripped of his chairmanship of the House Special Committee on Oil & Gas.

Kohring and former Reps. Pete Kott, R-Eagle River, and Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, were arrested Friday on multiple charges springing from an FBI investigation into corruption in the Alaska Legislature. All were released and vowed to fight the charges.

The three legislators are accused of doing the oil company's bidding in exchange for money or other benefits.

In court, both Allen and Veco vice president Rick Smith admitted being part of a conspiracy in which they bought lawmakers' votes for an oil production tax favored by the oil industry. Over five years, they said, they made more than $400,000 in illegal payments to four legislators or their families.

Allen also approved a scheme in which Smith directed Veco executives to make campaign contributions to primarily Republican candidates. The executives knew they would receive a "special bonus" to cover the amount. It was Smith's job to figure out how big a phony bonus each would need, prosecutors said in court filings.

In the last two-year election cycle alone, at least six Veco executives each donated $24,000 or more to various Alaska candidates and the Republican Party, according to a database run by the National Institute on Money in State Politics or

Allen alone donated more than $30,000 over the two years, according to the institute. So did Veco president Pete Leathard and chief financial officer Roger Chan. Smith donated nearly $25,000. And that's just one election cycle.

Brooke Miles, APOC executive director, said her staff saw the enormous contributions from Veco officials but couldn't document illegal behavior. They didn't know about the special bonuses.

Veco has run afoul of campaign finance laws before. In 1985, the company was fined more than $72,000 - later reduced to $28,000 - for a scheme that funneled secret donations to a slate of candidates through an employee payroll deduction plan.


Contact Lisa Demer at ldemer(at)
Distributed to subscribers for publication by
Scripps-McClatchy Western Service,

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