No sooner did ex-Representative Vic Kohring declare, outside Anchorage's Federal courtrooms last Thursday, that, "my conscience is clear.... I did nothing criminal.... I was a little naive," than people speculated, "who's next?"
I've felt for a long time - knowing what I do of the historic and historical backgrounds of political corruption in our state over the past 35 years - that by going after these little guys and pawns of oil industry service company Veco first, the Feds were setting examples for others. Other, bigger players, upon whom their eyes are now fixed.
If you leave out Bill Allen and Rick Smith, all of those who, so far, have either been convicted, or have copped a plea, took far less money than your average white collar criminal. Jim Clark took no money for himself at all. The sentences were weighted upward slightly, in light of the prosecutors' and judge's declarations that these people have "violated the public trust."
One deadline passed the first Tuesday in May, the unwritten "drop dead" date after which it is six months before a Federal election. Though there is no written rule, recent policy in the U.S. Department of Justice has been to bring no new criminal charges against anyone running for a Federal office any later than six months before an election in which the suspect is running. The concern has been that such indictments would change the nature of the elections beyond what could be termed the "non-political."
But there is another deadline looming: The June 2 filing deadline in Alaska. One might argue that should one or more of the future indictments of somebody who has already filed for office occur after the June 2 deadline, it would play heavily to the advantage of any candidate or candidates left standing who have already filed. And, it would fail to give due consideration of how reachable that office might be to any potential, but undeclared candidate, who had been otherwise deterred from filing before the indictment or plea.
The Alaska Report's Corrupt Bastard Club page has a good photo gallery of the usual suspects for the category of "who's next?" I'd add a few names, but my wife has cautioned me once before not to do that. So I won't.
image by Dennis Zaki