Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kohring Trial - Leftovers

This comment was left on an earlier post from Anonymous:

Steve-- what did you think of the story on Musser? Is he as pathetic as he seems? What a painful article to have written about oneself. I would shoot myself if I was like he is portrayed! Kyle Hopkins ADN Blog

He sounds like my ex husband of 16 years ago, "Ever since you left me my life has become an eddiface to what I am not! boo-hoo."

Well I was nearby in the cafeteria when Musser started talking to Kyle and Lisa. This is a picture of them while Kyle was live blogging the post you linked to.

Read the very end of my earlier my earlier post on what the jury needs to know. We all have to take responsibility. It's really easy to make snap judgments about people. The Government subpoenaed Musser and flew him up, he said, but in the end he didn't get called to testify. Because they weren't sure what kind of witness he'd be? Because they figured they didn't need him? Who knows? But whistle blowers tend to get creamed if they haven't planned it out carefully. He violated the rule about hanging dirty laundry in public. He outed a Republican legislator who committed numerous campaign finance violations. He said he tried to work out some other way to end what was going on. She was having serious domestic problems and she needed help, he said. Finally he went to the APOC. He also violated the norms against outing your boss. While, he never said Kohring 'fired' him, he said he was put on leave without pay until the Masek matter was settled. But he could never get in contact with Kohring again. He said his calls weren't answered, etc. He's living in Houston (Texas, not Alaska). He said someone at an oil company told him the word was he couldn't be trusted (he'd ratted on his boss, on a fellow Republican is how I understood that.) So, when your whole network blackballs you, it's hard. Not only can't you get a job through your network, he probably has trouble getting letters of recommendation. They want people to remember what happens when you break the code. This is hardball. This is like an inside guy having the tape going when everyone is relaxed and letting their hair down. Can't have that guy working here, we can never trust him.

Look at who is still chair of the Republican party in Alaska:

He's got to give up his old life and start over where no one knows who he is. That's not easy.

If you read articles and books on whistleblowing, this is not unusual. People are blackballed and even actively sabotaged when they apply for jobs.

Were his motives pure when he filed his complaint? I don't know. I asked him, why with so many people aware of what was going on, only he blew the whistle. He said he had a reason, but he wouldn't talk about it until after the verdict.

Just because there might be a characteristic or two similar to your ex-husband's, doesn't mean the rest is the same. It could be, but I prefer to fill in the missing pieces before I come to a conclusion. After all, Musser did report a sitting legislator to the APOC and she was found to have violated the rules. And for that he lost his job and was blackballed.

Maybe we should be thinking, not of Anderson, Kott, Kohring, but of Masek, Anderson, Kott, and Kohring. Then Musser would have been the first to stand up against corruption. But he always has to live with the behind the back innuendo and suspicion - was he just taken revenge for some slight?

I would say that when he did this he was either incredibly brave or incredibly naive - or maybe both.

Kohring Trial Day 7 - Closing Arguments

Sullivan made the prosecution's closing statement. He put all the facts into order and connected them to the charges. It was a strong logical case for guilty. He still needs to work on making these arguments sound like a story he is telling from his heart, not a speech he's working hard to remember and say in order. When he said, "They knew, they had a secret..." and went up to the jury as if he were telling them a secret, it seemed pretty staged. But he did put the argument together in a convincing way.

Browne spent the next hour talking about the duty of jurors, about the burden of proof and beyond a reasonable doubt ('bard' in my notes), what a " blasphemous, rude, arrogant, grandiose, intoxicated, and obsessed with power" lout Bill Allen is and used the question he tried out on reporter Lisa Demer yesterday in the federal building lobby interview you can see in the video I posted yesterday - "Would you make a critical decision in your life, based on BA’s testimony?"

He did talk about the facts of the case. He didn't make his own case. It was more like the prosecutor had set up a chess board and pieces representing the argument. Rather than critiquing how the board was set, he moved pieces around, knocked others over, dropped sand over here, added rocks, and poured syrup over the whole thing - not so much countering the prosecution's argument as totally obfuscating it. It was as if maybe he could sow enough doubt here and there, confuse the jurors about this point and that one, move the pieces around so they wouldn't be able to follow the original argument set out by the government. If he messed with things enough they wouldn't be able to find his client guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And Sullivan stood up to object twice, and the judge sustained the objections twice.

Then Bottini got up and lit into Browne's closing, talking fluently without apparent notes, just going point after point to rebut all that Browne said. It sounded sincere, just a little exasperated at the defense attorney's allegations, and sure of his facts and conclusions.

Below are my typed notes from the trial. As usual, they are just what I could catch with my increasingly stubborn fingers. I've run the spell check, but not made any other changes. So take this with a a great deal of skepticism. This is a sketch, not a full color account. There is a lot missing, but it should give you sense of what was said.

Sullivan - to whom much is entrusted, much

VK broke this trust, he received money and other financial benefits from BA, Veco, for agreeing to perform and actually performing official acts.

First, the evidence
Gasline and ppt. starting point.
1. Veco view - pipeline was goose that laid golden egg.
2. Veco first had to get ppt bill passed before getting the pipeline. For every 1% increase in ppt, tens of millions of profits for oil companies
3. Veco supported the 20/20 tax rate because that’s what their clients wanted - the oil producers. They had to produce the 20%

How produce with VK? BA and RS said they went to legislature to get ppt passed. They used VK and PK. Every vote counted. Had concerns with VK.
1. K upset because ppt bill not sent to his committee. Remember sb 185 because the bill was hijacked? They have to get him to support ppt.
2. VK is anti tax. Clients agreed to 20%, but VK so extreme anti tax, that he might muck up the process. Don’t want him to offer lower taxes.


Phone call RS & VK I understand your tax position, but this is not the time to go crazy, not the time to go whacko.
Audio - of the phone call - don’t you dare take this opportunity to go crazy
VK I know in politics there is a lot of give and take, I would reluctantly go along if you and the producers are amenable. Feb 22

He didn’t say: I can’t do that, I can’t vote for tax increase. He says, I’ll reluctantly go along. I don’t want to screw you guys over nothing
Also talked about dinner with the three of them. Go to island pub in Douglas BA said he gave $1000 to VK, he knew VK was upset about committee assignment, wanted to get VK on the team. RS sensed this, and he got up and left while he did this. BA and RS were like a married couple, he knew what he would do. He’d done it in the past - given $.

Conversation when they didn’t know we were listening.
March 4 Video: That’s why I left you alone. I knew you did.

Allen doesn’t tell smith he gave him $1000 as a gift, or to his friend, but he gave it so he would kiss our ass. Is there anything else I need to say about the relation between Veco and VK? It’s all about getting the ppt.

About the relationships. BA and RS took VK out when it served there purposes. There was no deep bond because of Russia. REd carpet list had Allen and Smith listed as supporters, not as friends. … the only thing VK came to the party with was his legislative hat. You heard times when VK was trying to milk the lobbyists, a free meal. He knows BA has deep pockets, one of the largest corp in AK. He was playing Allen too. How would BA act if he knew that VK was making $100,000? He couldn’t tell them that, it would stop the money train. ************

They knew, they had a secret, [leaned over and almost whispers to the jury….[
March 20 audio tape. He said I’ll be there for the vote. Talking to PK If it’s needed he said he’d be there.

...He’s not representing the interests of his voters in Wasilla. He’s working for Veco.
$1000 from BA, asking job for nephew. How many times VK initiated phone calls, Hey Rick, this is Vic. Lobbying other legislator Bert Ste?? , offering amendments, modify a bill for BA and RS, lobbying colleagues, advocating good things for Veco, acting as an info source. He will pass along info from BA to others, talking on radio and tv. He actually did them.

What is official act? some think, “he votes a certain way.” It’s much broader. It could also be anything wearing his leg hat. Also agreeing not to stall a bill, not to do something.

March 30 call. Serious matter to talk to BA and RS. What did BA think? He’s coming back for money. He actually took a wad of money out of his wallet and into his pocket.

Why is VK there in the first place. It’s the middle of the session, going to head of Veco, who has the most important leg of the session and for Veco's history. They’re loyal leg is in trouble politically. Asks for their rec. to help him answer his financial problem. He’s fishing. Why going to them? Why not go to friends? Why not Mark Marlow who employed him. If he could afford $500 a month, why not go to the bank? He knows BA is is biggest financial backer, he might just give him the money. He’s already been offered a job. In VK’s words, he was just there trying to solve a problem.

What get’s decided? Nothing. ONly that it is discreet, that he’s careful, that there are ‘no red flags.’ This can’t get out into the public. BA said he tried to fix the problem, he went to his own FO to check. Said if he could have given the money he would have. But already in the newspaper about consulting contracts.

What happens immediately after he tells them about his debt? He gets two cash payments. Look at this picture [money hand off] - that’s not a loan, that’s a payoff. BA doesn’t care what he does with the money. He could buy a whole GS troop. He’s been in this hotel suite all session, just to get ppt passed.

If this is a gift, where is the gift disclosure form with ethics committee? Joyce Anderson told us he was a frequent flyer at the committee. He knows the rules. The reason why this gift doesn’t relate to his legislative status.

What can I do to help you guys? Are you close to..? Stoltz, moderately so, can you gt him. I’m not real close to Bill, close to Meyers…… Vidoe tape March 30 Who’s on finance? Holmes? I know him well. He’s unpredictable. Kelly’s probably with us. Great relationship with Richard Foster….. [Talking about various legislators ] tell us what they are thinking about. tell us where they’re at, push them into our column.
First I’ll find out where they are at, then I’ll try to move them over. I know that’s really important to you. My position is anti tax, but I understand this is an intregal part of the whole deal here. …..

Folks, they’re talking about legislators who are on the fence, on key committees, the Finance Committee. He’s working for Veco….What does he do, after the payment, after waiting to hear what happens with his nephew. Lots of phone calls reporting what he’s doing, calling Meyers

Next day phone call audio: Pam has scheduled meetings for me to tell them to pass the gov’s bill as close as possible.

The same day 3/31 - I’m falling through on the plan. Let you know I’m doing what I can. I will do the best I can to lobby for the bill, to meet all the finance committee members.

Not a coincidence that the day after they met in the suite, that he is following through with the plan. One thing - about his votes on ppt.

Browne said he never voted on ppt. He’s trying to confuse you, BA wanted to keep it at 20%. There were attempts to take it above 20% and VK voted no. They wanted him to vote no. Veco didn’t want 22%. Oil producers didn’t want 22%. VK voted consistent with what they wanted.

amendment to an amendment. Sometimes such amendments did pass, took it to higher rate. Votes were intended to defeat the higher rate - voted yes to get the rate down. When Mr. Browne tells you VK didn’t vote for ppt, keep that in mind.

Let’s talk about the end of the first special session. 22%. A few hours left. you see PK RS and BA. How do we stop this? Have BA take VK out of town. You heard the call.
They meet at McDonald. The plan changes after they talk to VK (PK?) BA says, on the way back, near the liquor store, BA takes out a wad of cash and gives it to VK. Listen when the take out the hamburgers.

PK: [talking about procedures if you left you’d be in trouble]
BA: I wouldn’t a done that to you
VK: I would have done what you requested

That says it all. I would have taken a big political hit for you uncle bill. At this point, if BA had told VK to jump, he would have said, how high?

Aaron K. seems like a good kid, but he got the job because they wanted to keep VK happy. They are concerned because he is upset about the committee assignment. At dinner, VK says aaron looking for job. RS says, Veco has internships. A month goes by. Nothing about internship. VK brings it up. They say, We need a resume. VK takes the resume. RS takes the resume. Writes a note for BA - I think I’ve got a winner here, he’s VK’s nephew. RS had never met Aaron at that time. When they see it’s from BA they’re going to hire the kid. And that’s what Ms. McDonald said yesterday. He was hired

In two short months he made $3200, making $16/hour. He’s a good kid, had a great summer.

Periodioc cash payments from BA starting in 2002. Occurred in VK’s leg office in Juneau. RS corroborated, because BA told him after the fact. He did it for two purposes, 50/50 He did feel sorry. He didn’t know he was making $100K. But he also wanted to keep him loyal. It was an insurance policy.
Cook Inlet Oil - 2003 - BA asked K to take an official act to move the bill out of his committee because VK was stalling it. No question that he thought the bill had been hijacked - memo from his office - video with Prewitt. Allen Smith told you to kick the bill and he did and it got passed.

Eric Musser. No dispute that BA give VK an earful because of EM’s complaint about Bev Masek. BA upset because one of his loyal supporters was being attacked. VK tried to get the complaint withdrawn. The fact is that the complaint doesn’t get withdrawn, but Eric Musser does.

Lyda Green. BA told VK twice not to run against LG.

Folks, I also want to talk to you about the charges, your role

Count 1: Conspiracy to commit certain crimes including bribery
C is an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime. Doesn’t have to be explicit, just agreed. It started when they started making cash payments. The evidence I covered proves he agreed to perform specific acts on behalf because of various payments. You heard about the linkage between the acts and payments. The fact that he actually carried out the acts, further proves the conspiracy

Count 2 Hobbes Act, only relates to officials
PO when he obtains money or other property in agreement to take some official action and it impacts interstate commerce.
1. Doesn’t matter if VK ever took an official act, but only that he agreed to do. We submit he did not
2. Not a defense to say I would have voted the same way, I wold have done the same things.

Proof side: No dispute. He was a public official. And interstate commerce affected. Dan Dickinson, BA and RS all showed oil companies are interstate.

He received several benefits - $1000 at pub, money near McDonalds, money in Suite, and job for Aaron K.

count 3: attempted violation of hobbes act
attempted because he didn’t actually get the money
same factors plus, VK took a substantial step toward getting the money. He took the step when he went into the room and solicited them for the money. Listen closely to that conversation and what was agreed to.

Count 4: Bribery in govt. entity receiving fed funds
$5000 or more - VK charged of taking bribes while an elected official in state of AK
not in dispute
pipeline well in excess of $5000
State received far in excess of $ in fed funding
VK did receive bribes i exchange for official acts
Job for Aaron

He violated the bond of public trust he had with his constituents. Based on all the evidence, I asked you on behalf of the US that you find VK guilty of all four charges in the indictment. Thank you very much. 9:50am

J: Mr. Browne
B: Mr. Browne has to go to the bathroom

10:05 break over

Browne; mike on. First, thank you, i’ve been watching you and you us paying attention to each other a lot, you’ve been taking notes, I appreciate the seriousness you have taken this. One of the most serious things you’ve done in your life. Your sworn oath that you would follow the law and that was your word. I will get back to that.

In the beginning a few things were disorganized because i was listening to what gov said and responded to. Same today.
Gov’s presentation persuasive if you ignore the burden of proof if you ignore

Object of persuasion is to persuade that your side is correct.
It is all right for a leg to vote for legislation supported by your supporters That is completely all right. Haliburton gives money to the Bush camp and expects attention from the Bush people. GM gives money to legislators to do things. Unions, teachers unions, give $ to legs and expect them to do things for them
Some suggestion here that that isn’t legal
We know BA Veco gave 8% of VK’s campaign funds, all reported, it’s ok.
A bribe, must be known as a bribe. And the govt must prove that to you beyond a reasonable doubt.
Gov has suggested in past and now, attempt to borrow a pickup truck that went no where was a bribe. The gov has to prove bard that was a bribe. BTW the pickup was never provided and MR. K said I’ll be happy to pay for, but it never happened anyway.

Money given for E egg incident, Mr. K knew bard that it was a bribe, not simply because Veco was a consistent supporter of his.

Mr. K has served the people of this community and state for 12 years, even after this was known he was reelected. Still going of notes from this morning. Comment about RS saying to Vic, Don’t you dare , that is strong language, I have a 16 year old boy, don’t you dare take the car out , that’s a pretty strong word, Mr. S used that term, don’t you dare use this as an opportunity to go whacko.

According to Mr. Smith, they already owned him. If the did, why threaten him that he shouldn’t go nuts. During all the transcripts, dvds, everyone in the courtroom hopes you’ll listent to them carefully, that nothing is taken out of context. You need to listen to those, to hear what is actually said.

You will hear that VK never asked for any money from BA and RS ever. He asked for a loan. In the charging docs, gov. told you they were going to prove that there was a request for Mr. K of a payment. That has completely fallen apart for the govt. No one an characterize that as a payment.

I believe Ms. Anderson said, VK had filed more requests than any other legislator, I could be wrong, follow your collective member, Ms. Anderson did not say he did not file reports. I think you need to rely on your memory and notes on that.

VK saying I will do this and lobby some of my constituents - that is all legal, nothing sinister. G. says my client mentions names, Meyers, where are those witnesses? It’s apparent to you how much resources the govt has? Have you ever been in a position when the gov is going after you? There is no bottom to those deep pockets. You saw FBI agents flown from all over to testify. $100s of thousands . Against me and him.

Why didn’t they, with all that money, have them here as witnesses. Reasonable doubt is based on a lot of things including the absence of evidence.

It seems odd that a person subject to these ramifications it seems odd that the person charged by the govt. doesn’t get the last word. When I’m done, Mr B will get up and say more. The reason is that the burden on the g is so heavy, that the people who founded this country, knew that proof bard is so strong that the govt. need two chances to rebut.
I will try to anticipate what he will say and rebut them in advance. What we say is not evidence. You need to review the evidence yourself.

I am waving the flag now. There are kids dying today in support of these principles. We believe in this system that’s why you are here. We believe in this system. Explaining to jurors, “What does not guilty mean?” It means: not proven. That, you aren’t saying mr. K is pure as the driven snow, that he didn’t use bad judgement here and there? But did the G prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The J said the presumption of innocent, in and of itself, is enough to say ‘not guilty.’ Not guilty means not proven, these people with all their resources haven’t proven their case.

When the judge told you at the beginning of the trial, that presumption of innocence is so important and you were sworn to.

Let me tell you what this case is not about:
Victor K. proving anything, he has no burden of proof whatsoever
Not about we, VK and I, have no burden to prove anything, and that’s how the people who wrote our Constitution meant it to be. If you’ve ever done battle with the govt. you know why. W

Not about prejudice against politicians. I think there are more politician jokes than lawyer jokes.

Not about ethical rules and regs internal in the legislature.

Not about legit contributions and fund raisers

Not about doing things for people that support you politically. If people support you politically and give you legit money, that is what you do as a politician.

Case not about assuming that a gift is a bribe, without an agreement o do something illegal. The gov attorneys say if the pol gets a gift it must be a bribe if they do anything to help. They say money was for a bribe and not what he would do in the normal course of supporting VECO.

How did we get here? It started with Prewitt who was in trouble with the law but wouldn’t admit. FP mentions that he has info about major political corruption in AK. And when the names came out, the FBI started drooling - ted stevens, ben st. DY, MR.Kott, TA, BW, VK. so the Govt threw out this big web and determined who was going to fall into the web.

But we see a big mistake was made by the gov. but they won’t admit mistake. I submit it was not until just before this trial, until gov. realized that VK didn’t vote for ppt. The case was a mistake it was falling apart, They allege it was a payment when it was a request for a loan. They said about pickup. The job for Aaron was a bribe. That’s ridiculous There case so weak, turn to that as the basis for the this case. Most people get a first job through connections. But the g is so desperate in this case that they say this was a bribe. That he knew and Aaron knew it was a bribe. When their case started falling apart they started adding things - BA gave him money since 2002, he fired Musser, he was going to run against Lyla until BA told him not to. It proves only he listens to one of his supporters.

I’m certainly not faulting the G in some of the investigations in this scandal. But let’s look at others
T stevens gets $100K for a house - thats not a summer job, an easter egg
B stevens got $250K
TA $25k I believe and a contract
PK Got $10K

That should be investigated vigorously. I asked T stevens if the work on t stevens house was a gift. He said no, it was a bribe.
Even if you believe Mr. Allen, we’re talking about money with VK that was less than it would cost to buy a plasma TV. Millions of Dollars to put him in that chair.

Compare that to BA admitting he bribed $400 K and were talking about easter eggs.

Judge: Remember our earlier discussion, your getting close to the line

Mr. Prewitt is central casting for a sleazy lobbyist. Not only made a deal with the gov. even wanted to be paid. G. wired mr. Prewitt to entrap mr. K to entrap to admitting things he did wrong.

In the last video, Vic doesn’t look very good eating, none of us do. FP go through litany of what he was told to ask. Why don’t you ask Veco for a job? I know others have, maybe I will. What happened to Musser. Vic responds he did file a complaint and agreed Masek did things illegal and he was uncomfortable about his aide doing this.

Do you believe BA beyond a reasonable doubt. The only money is the money you say in the easter egg tape and ???? You have to rely o Bill Allen’s word.

Puts up chart. this is the jury instruction you will be given, agreed to by all parties. Judge in charge of the law, you’re in charge of the facts.

JI #13 Impeachment evidence of a witness - guilty plea is not evidence against the defendant, you have to judge BA’s testimony. Consider the extent to which his testimony may have been influenced by these factors. Examine his testimony with greater caution than other witnesses - for obvious reasons.

90% of what Sullivan said this morning depends on whether BA is telling the truth.

BTW, one of my relatives said to me long ago. True character is how you act when nobody is watching. BA on the stand, told you, if he knew he was being taped he wouldn’t have said all those things. But true character is how you act when nobody is watching.

You check their demeanor on the stand. His demeanor was pathetic. He has brain problems, Brain injury, - predated any of this. He was pathetic. What else look at for motive. He had to fire sale Veco, Seemed to want sympathy from us because he could only sell Veco for $400-million. He and his family would get only $350-million. Talk about motive. He was able to sell Veco. He was able to get $350-million for his family. More important the govt. threatened to charge his children unless he satisfied the government and did what they told him to do. If he doesn’t satisfy the agreement, then all deals are off. He also got an agreement of $500K to pay for his attorneys.

In evidence you will see the plea agreements. Please read them carefully. A lot of legal mumbo jumbo, but it does say if he does cooperate the gov. will argue to reduce his sentence? How many of us who have children wouldn’t do anything to keep them out of prison.

He’s blasphemous, rude, arrogant, grandiose, intoxicated, and obsessed with power. Apparently, making $1 billion a year was not enough for him and he wanted this pipeline passed. He brags about owning senators and res. And some he did. And some he thought he did. Would you make a critical decision in your life, based on BA’s testimony. Would you even buy a car from Mr. Allen. Seriously, think abut it.

But 90% of the govt.s case rests on BA. They want a verdict based on assumption of guilt. If someone says that in jury, the others have to say that isn’t true. we know innocent are arrested every day. And juries find people guilty every day. Maybe that will disappoint prosecutors and the press, but you need to not disappoint yourself.

How often did you hear VK saying I don’t want any freebie? Do you hear VK saying that? bstevens, kott, BW, anderson saying that.


Did prewit give assistance for free? No he wanted to be paid. There is a prejudice that they just be guilty, but you must put that aside.

Govtl ran into two obstacles. Two 6 foot 6 obstacles
A defendant who would not role over
And a lawyer who believes in the system and believes the govt. has sadly failed in their effort to prove bard. This is the best system in the world, but only if you keep your word. The G has the burden of proof on every count individually. Every count must be looked at individually.

There is a similar instruction - #13. Same instruction for Richard Smith’s testimony

JI about conspiracy. Remember I asked BA what a conspiracy was? He didn’t know. A conspiracy. two people or more agreeing to do something illegal and one of those people takes a substantial step toward that.

J tells you in a very non legal and good way explains to you what C means. It is not necessary that they made a formal agreement or every detail. But it is not enough that they simply met, discussed things of common interest, or perhaps helped each other. You must find there was a plan. Not even enough to have common interests and do things together.

Here what it means to join a conspiracy. On the other hand has no knowledge of the C, but who acts in a way that happens to further the C. One does not become a C by joining with conspirators or knowing the C exists. You have a copy of the JI. Important to read them.

You can’t go back and work to convict Vic if you follow your oath. If the effort is to work to convict it’s the wrong way. The work must be to find if the govt has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Not guilty means not proven.

When you talk about the govt has, consider the plight of mr Robert Hall. Obviously the govt has subpoenaed all of his financial records. He did not run for a senate seat, he did not fire Eric Musser. And the get Hall up and they ask him about his own financial record. That’s the power the government has. The power of the g. is overwhelming.

Never said we are sorry we misled you. That we made mistakes. But they can’t.

Govt. will suggest that I’m putting the govt. on trial or that I’m trying Mr. Al= or Mr. S. That’s not truing. I’m doing what I’m paid to do.
Huge prob with govt is because you have the exhibits. Finally Mr. Allen admitted, the final version they wanted and all the other people voted for that version and all the others did. And Vic never did.

Talk a little about Allen’s testimony when he was at the Kott trial. He paid him because he didn’t have enough money he was sleeping in his office, couldn’t by his daughter a girl scout uniform, not enough to buy a ticket to Oregon. VK told him he was having financial problems. He did not specifically ask me for any money. I just figured out what he needed and I gave it to him . Wasn’t it more than just a gift, wasn't it 50/50 - G had to remind him

In statement of facts, never says anything happening prior to 2006, nothing about prior misconduct in two places. Gov. will tell you well there was another clause about this not being all.

Similar from mr. smith. VK interviewed by FBI for four hours. Completely cooperative. Gave consent to search. took 1000’s of docs from his office. Said he had accepted pers. gifts but it had nothing to do with bribery. Used the word friendship. Talked to FBI about the loan the gov. still wants to make into a payment. Says Mr. A never offered him a consulting job. Talks about getting $100 or so for easter eggs, and that it made a very nice easter.

Mr. K told FBI that veco never instructed him on how to vote, but that Veco was a major constituent and supporter and pointed out he voted against a major bill Veco wanted.

Through the very quickly. First tape, you know my philosophy, I’m not beholden to the industry. Less govt and less taxes. Interested in restructuring. Reluctantly I might go along, I want to hear your thoughts mr. allen

Don’t you dare go crazy or whacko, but I know you will . Mr. Sullivan completely left this out. Mr. S knew VK will go whack. I know your philosophy.

J: Make it clear. If you want to watch the videos, you’ll have to come into the court room. The audio they can listen if they choose.

Conversations between S and PK. Vic’s never voted for a tax bill in 12 years. Never on tape did Vic say he’d be there. He probably said things because they were his supporters, but he thought the money was gifts.

Last one, because important. Number 11 (tape) vic says I don’t want to put any pressure on you, you are my friends, I have credit card debt because of surgery, I can’t go to credit agency because my credit isn’t very good. I need this all to be above board. I don’t want any one to get into hot water, No criticism. etc. loan, and I will make payments.

I want everything done in accordance to the law.

It has to be a real job. [takes lots of these quotes out of context] Asks Smith for $100 drunkenly slurring . GS uniform, here help with GS uniform. VK always believe it a gift.

Aaron’s job - transcript 15. Well I guess he qualifies
16 - what a wonderful time he had for easter, put all the money in the egg as you requested.

You believe that presumption of innocence is enough of ind someone not guilty. this is one of the most important jobs you’ll ever do. You promised to ….. You need to be true to your word. Be your word. 11:07

Mr. Bottini Rebuttal 11:08

Let me start by addressing earlier points Mr. B made about resources of Gov in contrast with client.

He gathered that this investigation going for some time. Prewitt over 4 years ago. Going on for years. Electronic surveillance. started in SEpt 2005 and 2006. Browne wants you to believe all these resources called down on VK. You know that is not true, a mischaracterization. This has been a long running investigation and Mr. Kohring got caught in it.

Somehow the govt. was trying to hide things from you. They didn't call this witness? Do you know how big the subpoenas are - this one page. If he thought there were witnesses you should have heard, he could have called them. He’s had all those recordings. He could have played them. its the button with the little arrow on it.

Tries to compare and contrasts VK with other names TSIt’s true. It doesn’t mean VK is less guilty. Look at all these benefits. $400K in benefits to Sen Stevens. Where did he get that? You’ll see that number in BA’s pea agreement - but that’s what they gave to all these different people, not Stevens. You should take that into consideration and think VK not guilty

He said nothing in recordings where BA brags about owning sens and congressmen. He could have played them. Accuses FP of being a sleazy lobbyist. Didn’t stop this guy from going out to dinner with him and getting his meal paid.

A loan was all they discussed. Talk about giving him a job, and sure they talked about a loan. It wasn't just a loan. He just wanted to solve his problem. RS thought he wanted it taken care of period. Whatever it took. The considered all of those. Loan wasn't good idea. Couldn’t hire him in middle of leg. session, he need the money then Couldn’t give him cash because APO watching.

Talk a minute about Mr.A. Browne says you can't believe anything. You saw BA and his story. Motorcycle accident. Doesn’t affect his thought process, but on his speech and ability to say words Doesn’t affect thought process and memory. He built Veco from ground zero 40 years ago. 2005 pulsating corp 5000 employees $1billion in revenues.

Somehow this addled old man able to run this industry to the end. He was the Chair of the Board of Veco right until they signed the paper with CH2MHil. he has trouble expressing himself and saying words.

He drinks too much. OK, you saw the tape. Had they been drinkin. Yeah they told you that. Was he rambling and out of his head? Of course not. a little harsh language. Two of them by themselves, don’t know any one is recording. It’s rough language. But he knows what he’s talking about. We gotta gt it done. Let me give and example he says, like the other night VK, VK you get up to leave and I gave him $1000. RS says, I know you did, I d know. Ramblings of two drunks? No, they knew what they were talking about . That guy right there got $1000 bucks at the pub….

B. says Allen told you this because he has motive to say all this. Come on. He saw the tape because I knew what I’ done was illegal. He knew his hash was cooked. Handing money to a legislator in the middle of the session. Allen knew it was over right there.

He says you can’t trust anything he says because no corroboration. If mr. Allen is making this up to get leniency or curry favor from the Gov. wouldn't his story be better? He doesn’t say, Here’s $600 to move that bill. That wasn't their relationship. That isn’t what happened. He gave VK 3-4 payments between 2002 and 2006 because he felt sorry for him. He didn’t know he was pulling 80grand 100 grand a year. He also said, he’s not a stupid man. He also said I gave him the money because I wanted him to be loyal to me. He knows if he gives him money over time, he’s got a chit he can call. And he did - don’t run against green, Musser, let the bill out of committee.

Somehow BA had cut this great deal with the Govt. and part of deal was that Veco wouldn’t be prosecuted. Flat untrue. He asked for it, he knew with this cloud, it would affect the employees. He took a haircut on the sale to CH2mhill. Did he sell it for $400Million, of course, but the point is that to say that Veco was motivation to fabricate- that wasn’t part of the bargain.

MR. B talked about $500K severance from Veco, had nothing to do with he govt. came from Veco.

Talk about relationship among these people. Mr. B said the relationship was close, deep bond, at core their mutual love of Russian women. Flat untrue. No evidence. BA said never met VK’s wife or daughter. VK never met BA’s girlfriend. These guys are business associates. Not a bond between close friends exchanging gifts. It’s business. Veco’s business is about oil . VK has something they want. They have something VK wants.

Mr. K , i would submit to you, knows how to play cards. he knows what it took to get Mr. Allen into giving him things. He turned him into an ATM machine. He knew all he had to do was plant the seed in BA’s mind, that I don’t have money to do something and he would get the money. mr. K played this like a fiddle. When does he decide to go up and look for help - the debt was around for a while, the records in evidence. One of the fist thing K says is, “this could help me politically.” He knows what he’s doing, not by coincidence he picks the middle of the leg session that he does this. They have this key leg on the floor, he knows how critical, he picks this time. Any ideas how I can solve this? He then offers ideas - job, loan, payment - to solve his problem.

Interesting when you listen to these phone calls between K and S. A series. Starting about 3/19, til he tells RS I need to talk to you guys. The calls build to a crescendo. he starts telling Sm what he can do. Lobby on your behalf. Conveying the message before he gets into that room I there for you.

Why these guys? Why BA RS and Veco for help? Look at the timing. Why not Mr. Hall, he appears to be a successful businessman and they are friends.

B says there is nothing wrong with a legislator carrying the ball for someone who gives him a campaign contribution. Handing people a pocketful of cash in the middle of the legislative session isn’t a campaign contribution.

Do personal friends ask each other for gifs? No, this is a business transaction.

What does VK have these guys want? All he’s got is the sign he has on his door. He took that sign off the door and handed it to Mr. Allen, but doesn’t give it to him. He sold it to him.

they have this specific discussion about what mr. K can and will do for them. He doesn’t say, I’ll se if I can politely influence them.

Aaron Kohring got a w-s for the work he did. This guy should have gotten one too. He was a frequent flyer with Joyce Anderson. Should have had her on speed dial.

Vanderploeg tells K heres what we’re looking at, things you got for your personal benefit and campaign . AV asks can you elaborate? He pauses and says, I’ d like to think about it. Then he calls them gifts. He goes, oh o, I know where these guys are going, he switches to calling them gifts.

Ladies and Gentleman. The evidence is clear. Mr. K traded on his government office - it was all he had- for gifts and pyaments. that’s what this case is about.

Pulls out chart.

Mr. B says govt. hasn’t proven this case. We would submit the evidence proves well beyond a reasonable doubt. We have proven it beyond a reasonable doubt and he’s guilty.

J. Thank you mr. B can you remove the easel? 11?37

Now it is my duty to instruct you on the laws. Copy of these Jury Instructions in the jury room

Warm Halloween

Ran into this witch at the General Services Administration in the Federal Building yesterday after the trial.

And the half inch of snow we got the other day is pretty much gone. We even have a couple of pansies still blooming.

And when I checked the weather this morning, I saw that the temperature in Seattle and Anchorage were the same - though it looks like it will get warmer in Seattle later on.

Off to closing arguments soon.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What does the jury need to hear?

Tomorrow we get the closing arguments. What's still not quite clear?

I've been pretty conservative in my predictions in the last two trials. With the first case, when I tried to make sense of the jury instructions and then match the facts of the case to what exactly had to be proven, I figured it would take the jury a while to even figure out what their job was. And with twelve people all giving their opinions, I figured it would be several days at best.

The got the case on Friday afternoon and by noonish Monday they had a verdict. The same was true for Kott. Does that mean the juries didn't worry about the details? That they were just much faster at figuring them out than I was? Who knows? But published interviews with some jurors suggests that the tapes were the big factor. And people I've talked to in and around the trial plus others who have seen some tapes on the internet just look at me as if I'm slow when I ask what they think the verdict will be. "Just look at him taking the money in the tape" is their response.

That said, let me try to figure out where we are, without going in as much detail about the parts of the law that have to be proved - since I don't have the jury instructions.

Is he a public official? Yes, that's not a problem.

Did he get something of value in exchange for his services as a legislator? Let's see what I can reconstruct without looking at my notes.

1. He got the $1000 at the restaurant in Douglas. We know this from Allen's testimony, Rick Smith's collaboration of it, and, if I remember right, Allen and Smith talking about it on one of the tapes.
2. He got the Easter egg money - $100 from Allen and '6 or 7' (hundred) from Allen which we see on tape. But we can't really see how much Allen gave Kott.
3. Allen says he gave Kohring '6 or 7' on various occasions. We only have Allen's word on this.
4. There is the $17,000 credit card problem that Kohring asks help on. Joyce Anderson from the ethics committee told us that 'something of value' includes loans. He didn't get it, but he asked for it. I don't remember all the details of the laws, but this would seem at least to fit the extortion part.
5. There's the job he got for his nephew that was valued at about $3000. No one has presented evidence to even suggest the nephew isn't a really great guy, but it seems clear from the tapes that Kohring asked Allen about getting Aaron a job, he got the resume into Allen, and Smith notified Kohring that Aaron got the job. Kohring notified Aaron. And today Kari McDonald told us it was highly unlikely that Aaron would have gotten a job without the recommendation from Allen.
6. There's the truck that Kohring asked for help on, which also went nowhere.

So, what legislative actions did they get in return? And as I recall the law says it doesn't matter if a) he would have performed them in the same way without the 'payment' or b) if he doesn't actually carry out the promises.

Kohring made promises all the time. What can I do for you? Let me know if you need anything. And he did this almost simultaneously with saying thank you for something he was being given. Did he actually promise or do something concrete that would show Allen's influence?
1) It seems like Allen was able to get Kohring to release HB 195 from committee, even though he was angry because he thought his credit for the bill was being hijacked by Tom Wagoner. This may not be completely clear. The linkage needs to be made simply.
2) Allen did have clear influence on Kohring in regard to his aide Eric Musser. He did check and try to get the complaint withdrawn but felt it was too late. This all was clearly spelled out in the Prewitt tape. Whether he actually fired Musser is not clear. It was mentioned that Musser has tried to get his job back, but what I remember is from Bottini or Sullivan, not from a witness.
3) He offered to lobby other legislators and said he did - like Kevin Meyers.
4) I think Browne has done an effective job in obfuscating Kohring's voting record on PPT. In the Kott case it was clear from the detailed review of the House Journal that Kott actually changed his vote from 'no' to 'yes' at the end. But the defense used up lots of time to set up the jury for this. I don't know how the prosecution will handle this, in part, because I'm still not sure whether his votes on ppt reflect Allen's influence or not. Minimally, there are statements where he promises to be there for them. Despite Kott's skepticism.

I've got class tonight, so I don't have time to do the same with the defense's attack on the evidence.

I will say, though, that the jury this time took a lot more notes, and I suspect that they will use those notes. This could mean the deliberation will take longer as they sort through their notes and compare their different takes on things. This jury is also older, and while I haven't done a good job of comparing my notes of those what juror prospects said to who actually got on the jury, my sense is there is a lot more experience on this jury. They know about how bureaucracies work. This probably isn't good for the defense.

Based on the evidence I've seen - and the jurors have been instructed not to reach any conclusions until the trial is completely over - at this point guilty seems like the right verdict. But I don't say that with the vinictiveness I read in blog comments and letters to the editor. Yes, these legislators have violated the public trust. But Kohring's constituents reelected him knowing he was under suspicion. Michael Carey's piece in the ADN today ends with:

You might look at the FBI tapes of Vic Kohring in action and decide Vic doesn't belong in jail. But I don't think anybody, including Vic's lawyer John Henry Browne, could look at those tapes and conclude Vic Kohring ever belonged in the Alaska Legislature.

Sharon Cissna told me that this was a systemic problem. All the people of Alaska share resposibility for that. We've underfunded all the watchdog groups - the ombudsman, the APOC, etc. - and we've elected politicians who pander to our basic fears and desires - no new taxies, cut government - while we've been feeding off the oil pipeline and our federal funds pipeline. If Kohring deserves to go to prison, Alaskans who voted for legislators who dismantled all the watchdog agencies, and Alaskans who didn't vote at all because it was easier to say, "They're all corrupt," bear a great deal of responsibility too.

We allowed these people to get elected - people who were beholden or quickly became beholden to rich men with agendas.

After Trial Interview - Browne and Kohring

Kohring Trial Day 7 - Defense Case Over Before Lunch

I dragged in about 40 minutes late. Aaron Kohring, Vic's nephew, was sitting outside the courtroom, having just testified. When I got in Robert Hall was testifying. A Dimond High School classmate of Kohring's, Hall owns fireworks stands in Wasilla, has been Kohring's attorney at times, as well as his friend and campaign adviser. When I got into court, the prosecution was cross examining Hall. And much to my surprise, the prosecution was asking Hall if he knew how much money Kohring had earned in 2006, and they were able to bring out the key facts that were in Sean Cockerham's ADN story this morning. That he earned about $100,000 that year, that he had a consulting contract with developer Mark Marlow, and they even asked him if the $31,000 he got in per diem was tax deductible. Hall didn't know, but the point was made.

I hadn't thought they could get this information about the $100,000 income and Marlow contract in any more. I learned afterward that they had this information all along - and were not that excited to see it in the newspaper this morning - but didn't think they could get it in as part of their case. They'd been hoping to be able to slip it in when cross examining defense witnesses. They got their chance this morning.

And Browne wasn't very aggressive in objecting and the judge allowed it.

The defense rested its case about 10:30am. But the prosecutors called a rebuttal witness to Aaron Kohring, one of the recruiting staff at Veco when Aaron was hired. Kari McDonald testified that the internship program was for college juniors and seniors, mostly in engineering. They got paired up with a mentor and got paid $16 - $20 an hour. Aaron had just graduated from high school, so he really wasn't qualified. They gave him a $16/hour job and he got a mentor, but basically he was doing manual labor helping people move from cubicle to cubicle. There is a new high school intern program, but they only make $10/hour.

When asked if Aaron Kohring would have gotten the job if Bill Allen hadn't recommended it, McDonald said, "I strongly doubt it."

Defense attorney Browne was able to get her to say, "I know they thought very highly of him [Aaron]."

And then the judge asked the lawyers when they wanted to meet in his office to work out the jury instructions (after lunch) and the closing arguments will be tomorrow morning.

Sean Cocherham's Gets Great Story

Sean Cockerham's piece in today's ADN shows some real, if obvious, journalism that the rest of missed - he checked with the APOC. He reports Kohring made $100,000 while he was panhandling from Veco. And it looks like $25,000 was one of those do little contracts in which he was paid to

"assist with the development of construction related projects, including arranging and conducting meetings, performing research, and developing plans and strategies."

Now, he may have done real work for Marlow, but if not, this could totally change the image the defense has built up of Kohring as hard working and poor. Who did nothing but respond to his constituents emails and phone calls all year. But the prosecution ended its case yesterday afternoon, so the jury won't see this.

Court Room Escape

When I looked out this morning, the street was snow free and dry. One more day I can ride my bike. I know that some people resent cyclists for various reasons - but to be out in the chilly morning air, moving my blood around and going through the woods a good part of the way, and being able to park almost at the door of the federal building - what's not to like? But there was still ice on the bike path as you can see from these two pictures on my way home. Still, this is so much better than being in a car. And for those of you in your cars, I'm one less car on the road and one more parking place.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Kohring Trial Day 6 - Defense May Not Defend

Most interesting part of the trial for me today:

Defense attorney Browne said after the jury was dismissed for the day, “Speaking candidly, I may not put on a defense.” (I’m always alert when people suddenly say they are speaking candidly. What were they doing before?) He then asked some questions about whether witnesses would be allowed to testify about Kohring’s habit of being very friendly and offering to help. After some questioning the judge said no. I’d heard at lunch from a close friend of Kohring, that his nephew was going to be called. And he said afterward he’d been told to call all the witnesses to cancel. I’m not entirely convinced. We’ll see. But if it’s true, we could be done tomorrow or Wednesday.

Today's Witnesses

Bill Allen, finished
Frank Prewitt - Former Commissioner of Corrections who is cooperating with the Government
Tom Wagoner, State Senator from District Q in Kenai area.
Joyce Anderson, Administrator for the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics.
Alan Vanderploeg, FBI Agent who led the team that searched Kohring's Wasilla office and interviewed him
Mary Jo Herrett, FBI agent who, I think I have this right, copied Kohring's hard drive.

The Issues

It's getting harder for me to sort things out. Either there was nothing particularly earth shaking - though a number of small details = or my head is turning to mush with all this.

1. Allen's credibility - I think more than anything he said, particularly in the cross examination, this was about whether Allen can be trusted as the only witness to the other times he handed over '6 or 7' to Kohring (Allen speak for $600-$700). It is hard to to be sure I haven't been tainted and my whether my judgment is objective anymore.

Browne would have us think that Allen will tell us anything because of his plea bargain agreement with the government who can recommend a significantly lighter sentence than his potential 10 or 11 years in prison. But Allen is that self made man of American mythology - pulled himself up from a crop picking, poor family to become a successful business man worth several hundred million dollars. And he didn't do it through trading, but through creating real things that were necessary for getting North Slope oil to the rest of the world. He's still proud of what he did, and he has a right to be. And he still had some of the dignity on the stand. This high school drop out stood up to Kohring's high priced lawyer and came out at least tied. Despite his cognitive problems from his motorcycle accident. But I don't know how much of my impression is influenced by seeing him in the Kott trial. I can't tell what the jury will think. (None of these comments is intended to diminish the gravity of the how he has corrpted the democratic process, but to give a sense of why the jury might believe him, despite what he's done.]

2. Gifts, loans, payments, what's the difference? Browne has been arguing from day one, that Kohring never got any payments. He got gifts from friends. The Easter egg payment was a gift from Allen to Kohring's step-daughter, whom Allen says he may have spoken to once by phone.

Joyce Anderson's testimony went right to this as she defined the requirements for legislators receiving gifts.

1. Gifts to legislators related to legislative status cannot be over $250 cumulative from the same person over a year.
2. Gifts that not related to legislative status can be over $250, but must be reported
3. Cannot receive gifts from lobbyists during the legislative session.
She also testified that Kohring had never reported any gifts from Veco, Allen, or Smith.
Does the loan count as something that needs to be reported? Well, it would if he had gotten one, but he didn't. (My comment: But for a legislator to ask for one - even though Browne took pains to point out it was a loan, not a gift or a payment - is problematic and loans fall into the category of something of value.)

However, Browne did point out that these are civil, not criminal offenses. I'm not sure how that plays out in the federal laws that Kohring is accused of violating.

I thought Anderson was probably the strongest witness of the day. She knew what she was talking about, even if Browne belittled her with a left-handed compliment

Browne: You have obviously memorized the statutes for state ethics

And when he tried to force her to say yes or no -

B: If Allen gave money to VK’s child that would be ok? Right?
JA: There is no definition about ‘related or not to legislative status’.
B: Witness is not being responsive
Judge: I thought she was being responsive but if you don’t think so...
B: If he gave a gift to the child for any amount if not related to leg behavior, it is ok, Is that correct? [I wrote down ‘behavior’ but the language she had used earlier was ‘status’ I don’t know if that is what Browne said or something I miswrote.]
JA: After a long pause….. It’s difficult to answer when you use language “related to legislative behavior” LB is not defined in statue, the determination, sorry if you think I’m not answering. If I assume that it is not, then yes.
I can't imagine how this exchange would have endeared him to the jury. She came across to me as knowledgeable and dedicated.

3. The Eric Musser Affair

We've heard bits and pieces of this since the opening statements. Browne even said he hadn't yet decided if he was going to call Musser as a witness. After what we heard today, I don't think he'd help Kohring's case.

Frank Prewitt, as part of his cooperation agreement with the government, video taped a dinner with Kohring during which he asked about Eric Musser. Kohring told Prewitt the story on tape. Musser had worked for Rep. Beverly Masek and they’d had a falling out. Musser came to work for Kohring. Then Musser filed a complaint against Masek with the APOC (Alaska Public Offices Commission) over illegal use of campaign funds. Kohring learned about this when an irate Bill Allen called to ask what was going on. Kohring checked with APOC and learned about the complaint.

Kohring on tape:
He filed complaint while he was working for me, Didn’t tell me. Bill Allen said, what is this chicken shit? Doesn’t he work for you? I called APOC and sure enough it had gone through. I was shocked. Eric didn’t even tell me. BA really liked Bev and didn’t want that to happen to her. So that was a bad thing for me to go thru and affected so many of my supporters. He wanted to get Eric to withdraw the complaint. But they already had it. She was caught red-handed..
He then listed various illegal ways she spent campaign money, including paying off her credit card bill. In his opening statement, Browne said this was about integrity. But as we hear it now in Kohring's words, he wasn't interested in making sure a legislator who had violated the law was caught. He was upset that his aide did this behind his back and helped get rid of a legislator who was a friend of Allen's. This made him look bad. Getting rid of corrupt legislators wasn't his objective here. It was just too bad about Beverly. This doesn't make him look like a man of 'integrity."

If he said he actually fired Musser over this I didn’t catch it. But what was clear was that Allen could call and make Kohring jump.

If Browne made important points in the cross, I didn’t catch them. He asked about Prewitt’s deal with the FBI, and kept asking things like,

B: You brought up Musser, obviously they asked you to raise that.

4. He had to think about it

I'm not sure what Alan Vanderploeg's testimony added. He was a very cheerful, polite, and friendly witness. So perhaps he was there to counter any ideas that the FBI interrogation was the heavy handed third degree the Defense had suggested in the pre-trial motion to supress statements elicited from this interrogation.
However, I thought one exchange was notable.

Bottini: Tell VK about allegations at the beginning?
AVanderploeg: Told him conducting corruption probe, there were allegations he had taken money or other things of value.
JB: Did you ask him
AV: He said he had asked and received for personal benefit and campaign contributions?
JB: Did you ask to elaborate?
AV: Yes He said that he preferred to think about that question further.
Browne did a good job in the cross examination pointing out that from the written summary - I learned in one of the previous trials that the FBI policy is to NOT tape interrogations, so now we have to rely on the FBI's notes, and can't see or hear for ourselves - that the next thing was that Kohring talked about this, so he didn't think very long.

The point, as I understood it, was that at first he admitted things - not totally sure what - and then he seemed to have backed off a bit.

5. The Red Carpet List and HB 198

Mary Jo Herrett, the FBI agent who copied Kohring's hard drive when it was confiscated in the search (at one point Browne said "Before this raid" and Bottini objected, and it was sustained. Then Browne said, "Before this incursion..." and Bottini objected, and it was sustained. Finally Browne said, "Before this search,...") of Kohring's office. She produced three items from the computer, nothing as incriminating as the updated invoices for the flooring work in the Kott case:
1. The Red Carpet list - which was a list of people who, if they showed up at the office, would be shown right in. It was divided into categories in this order:
Personal Friends
-Family members and relatives
-All legislators

With a Note at the bottom: This list is not in order.

What was of interest is that Bill Allen and Rick Smith were listed, not as friends, but as supporters.

2. HB 198 History (Oil Royalty Reduction for Cook Inlet Offishore Platforms)
This bill is the one we heard about where Kohring is said to have gotten upset because Sen. Wagoner had 'hijacked' it from him, so Wagoner would get credit for having introduced it and getting it passed. This seems to me so petty and trivial that I don't even want to write about it. But it fits in the prosecution's case (if I haven't mixed this up with another bill) because Kohring is said to have been sitting on the bill, and Allen was the person who persuaded him to let it out of his committee, thus demonstrating Allen's power over Kohring. Wagoner testified how his Senate version got passed out of committee and by the Senate before Kohring's identical house bill. So the Senate bill was the bill that went on to be passed. This memo found on Kohring's computer wasn't on the screen long, but it was a history of the bill and included the words "hijacked' on the memo.

3. A memo with emails setting up a meeting with Allen and Smith. First from Kohring dated Feb. 22, 2006 to Pamela Marquez asking to set up the meeting
Can you call RS and get a brief meeting including brief bite to eat at the Baranof would be good.
And her response:

I have talked with Rick today, He’ll get back to me to schedule you in.
I wasn't sure the point of this and I'm still not. But it takes place the day after Kohring talked to Rick Smith and was told, "Don't you dare go...whacko." And before the meeting where Kohring tells them he needs $17,000 because of his credit card debt. The ADN summary of the audio tape adds more insight to how strange this all is:

Kohring calls Smith, who says he's having dinner with U.S. Rep. Don Young, Veco CEO Bill Allen and Veco President Pete Leathard. Smith mentions that he would be having dinner the next night with then-Atty. Gen. David Marquez (a former lobbyist for Veco whose wife, Pam, was an aide to Kohring at the time). "So we'll be with your staff tomorrow night," Smith says, laughing. "Small world, man," says Kohring. Later, Kohring - who is strident about opposing tax increases of all forms - says he might reluctantly support the oil tax plan being pushed by Veco. Smith suggests how Kohring can justify his support then says this: "Don't you dare take this as an opportunity to go crazy, you know, to go wacko." Kohring, at the time chairman of the House Special Committee on Oil and Gas, says he'd reluctantly go along with the tax if Veco and the North Slope producers want it. (Smith and Allen testified that Allen gave Kohring $1,000 in cash two days later, on Feb. 23.)

There are other minor events - like the judge chewing out Browne for sharing Bill Allen's crib sheet with the press Friday, which was mentioned in Lisa Demer's Saturday article on Browne. Allen had a list of names to help him with his cognitive problems of getting words from his brain to his tongue. Browne had asked him what it was and if he could look at it. Then took it to the defense table. Afterward he showed it to several members of the media.

Today, after the jury left for lunch, Bottini complained about this action. At first Browne was contrite. Then he defiantly said,

I believe in a public trial.
Judge Sedwick then asked:

Did you get permission from Mr. Allen? It was not an exhibit.
In the future, you will not show things to the press without getting their permission.

Kohring Trial Day - Allen Cross Examination

Defense attorney Browne was much more polite in his cross exam this morning, most of the time anyway.

But Bill Allen proved again - as he did in the Kott trial - that he's not given up his dignity yet. He did not simply agree to everyting Browne asked. He forced Browne to wait until he found the lines Browne was asking about. Other times he simply disagreed. His long pauses seemed to try Browne's patience. At one point he asked for another headset. It was close to break and the judge had asked to hurry things along. Browned didn't want to wait. Allen retorted, "it's not my fault I can't hear." and put in his hearing aid. But it messed up Browne's pace, which had been picking up as he seemed to be trying to rattle Allen. Instead, Allen seemed to rattle Browne.

Mostly Browne was trying to get him to acknowledge that Kohring always said the money he asked for was for a loan, not a payment. The judge got irritated when Browne asked, "When he asked you for a loan, he always intended to pay it back? Right?" The judge said, well, of course, that's a tautology, rephrase the question. Browne didn't see to understand the Judge's objection, but finally figured out a different way to ask, "When he aske for money, it was for a loan, right?"

At one point Browne asked Allen about his being mad at Pete Lethard, then President of Veco, for telling the Australians who were considering buying Veco, that he was buying politicians including Don Young and Ted Stevens. That this disclosure caused them to drop out of negotiations. Allen responded, I said that, but I may have been wrong about Pete saying that.

Browne also spent a lot of time quoting Allen's profanity. He asked him whether there were two Bill Allen's - the one in front of us in his suit and the one who says fuck 52 times on the tape. Allen said, no, there's only one.

What about the Bill Allen who gives money to the Boys Club and the one in the tapes. Allen: It's the same Bill Allen.

Bottini has jumped up a few times to object to Browne reading to Allen.

I don't quite know where Browne is taking this. Even if it is a loan and not a payment, so what? If he could get a legitimate loan he should go to the bank. If he can't get such a loan, then being able to get one quicker or even at all, is a special benefit most people don't have.

He also tried to distinguish Vic Kohring from the others that Allen bribed. Well, it may be Kohring got less than the others, but so what?

This is a little disorganized, I just hae a short time during break this morning.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Enigma that is Vic Kohring

Here's some of what his defense attorney said about him in his opening argument:

Default-tiny John H Browne Opening Argument uploaded by AKRaven

(audio edited from court recording posted on ADN's site today)

It's true that he's a giant teddy bear of a man. He seems to smile at everyone he looks at in court, as if acknowledging an old friend. He asks the prosecutors how their lunch was after the noon break in a cordial tone you might use with someone you know well.

I'm trying here to put down what I know from observing him in court and from what he says on the surveillance tapes that have been played.

  • His legislative bio says he was born in Waukegan, Illinois in 1958.
  • It also says he received a B.A. in Management Science in 1987 and an M.B.A. in 1989, both from APU.
  • He's anti-government and anti-tax. (according to his attorney's opening argument and Kohring himself on some of the tapes)
  • He's pro big business and certainly pro-oil development. A couple of times he called Rick Smith (all the calls that have been introduced into court are ones where Vic goes through Rick Smith to get to Bill Allen if I recall right) to tell him that he's been working on a bill that includes even more incentives than just the investment incentives for major oil companies.

The other side of the picture.

  • He's a humble sheet rocker, when he's not in the legislature. (Defense attorney Browne)
  • He lives in a trailer in Wasilla and sleeps on a couch in his legislative office in Juneau. (Browne)
  • He did not have enough money to eat. (Browne quoting Bill Allen)
  • The only employment his legislative bio lists was government related - such as his legislative work and membership on the Wasilla Planning and Utilities Commission and the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation
  • The only heading his legislative bio lists related to business is "Business and Professional Memberships" which include just: Palmer Chamber of Commerce and Wasilla Chamber of Commerce.
So, that means we have an anti-tax, anti-government, pro-big oil, and presumably pro-business in general man with undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, who on his professional legislative resume lists no private sector work in his 49 years. And by all accounts he has very little money - he lives in a trailer and while in Juneau from January to May, sleeps on the couch in his office. Some of that poverty might be explained by the fact that he is supporting, presumably, the household of his wife and step-daughter who live in Oregon. Of course, explaining that as the reason for his not having enough money to eat is a little embarrassing since he's supposed to maintain a residence in his district. But since he lives in a trailer in his district and most other legislators have to support two households while in Juneau, that doesn't really explain it.

What about his sheet rock business? We know from the previous trial that Pete Kott continued to be active, when the legislature was not in session, installing hardwood floors. And his legislative bio lists him as " Owner & Associate, Kott's Hardwood Flooring: 1996 - present" though his business support was tempered by his pro-union stance.

I can't see anything in Kohring's bio that accounts for the time between his high school graduation in 1976 and his graduation from college in 1987. Was he in college for 11 years? Was this when he did sheet rock work? And there were four or five years from when he received his MBA in 1989 until he was elected to the House of Representatives. Did he start a business? What did he do? It isn't reflected on his legislative bio. Why not? Wouldn't such a pro-business candidate want to emphasize his private sector work experience?

Why does such a strongly anti-government advocate only list government work on his official bio?
What influences in his life have led him to be a staunch supporter of business on the one hand, and a state legislator who is so poor he sleeps on his couch in his legislative office? A vow of poverty may be a noble thing, but I can't recall it being part of a pro-capitalist ideology. And the ideology doesn't fit with someone taking cash handouts from lobbyists. He said in a surveillance tape when he asked Allen for a loan to cover his credit card debt that he didn't want any payments that he didn't work for. What non-legislative work did he do for Allen in exchange for the $600 to $700 we saw on the video, not to mention the other times Allen says he gave him money because he felt sorry for him?

Browne called him one of the hardest workers in the history of the Alaska legislature, ever. Surely such a hard worker with an MBA could have earned enough money when the legislature was not in session to live off his $24,000 legislative pay plus more than $150 per diem. Do Alaskans really want people managing the state's budget who can't manage their own personal budgets? Here's a staunch anti-government, no-tax zealot, who won't vote for any legislation that raises taxes, even though the oil companies being taxed support the bill. He did say he would be willing to vote for it if the assessment of 20% were called a fee instead of a tax.

This is a man, it seems to me, who has painted himself into a corner by signing a no-tax increase pledge. In the 2006 session he was faced with what he sees as legislation necessary to develop the gas pipeline, which he sees as critical for the state. But he can't vote for it because he signed the no tax increase pledge 12 years earlier, though it's ok to tell others to vote for it. It's commendable for a politician to stick to his promise. But not when it's a promise that now is going to do harm to the state and people of Alaska. It made more sense to him to stick to a principle he espoused before he had any legislative experience or apparently business experience than to say, "After 12 years in the legislature, I now realize that life is more complex than I thought. There are times when voting against a tax will do more harm than the tax will do. Since the oil producers - the people being taxed here - are saying this bill is essential to getting the gas pipeline built, I'm going to make an exception here." Nixon went to China, but Kohring couldn't vote for the PPT bill.

So we have a man of contradictions. A man with degrees in business who is too poor, despite a hefty per diem, to afford a place to stay other than his office when in Juneau. Why?
Is he simply ignoring his personal needs to earn a living in his zeal to serve his constituents?
Is he just unable to succeed in the entrepreneurial ventures he's studied and he believes in so strongly?
Are there other explanations?

He is quite unique and leaves me scratching my head trying to understand these seeming paradoxes.

[added Oct. 30 - For a similar assessment in a very different style, read Michael Carey's take on Vic Kohring.]

Kohring Trial - Opening Arguments Available

The ADN has posted the audio for the opening arguments in the Kohring Trial. Now you can see how much I left out in my post that day.

It starts with Prosecutor Joe Bottini. If you want to hear the government's case against Kohring, this is the government's story.

Bottini is followed by Defense Attorney John Henry Browne. The two opening arguments took about 80 minutes altogether. Now you can compare what Browne sounds like to the newspaper man described in today's ADN article by Lisa Demer. What does it mean when the paper writes about the defense attorney instead of about the defendant?

Richard Power's The Echo Maker

Cranes keep landing as night falls. Ribbons of them roll down, slack against the sky. They float in from all compass points, in kettles of a dozen, dropping with the dusk. Scores of Grus canadensis settle on the thawing river. They gather on the island flats, grazing, beating their wings, trumpeting: the advance wave of a mass evacuation. More birds land by the minute, the air red with calls.
So opens The Echo Maker. The sandhill cranes who congregate along the Platte River near Kearney, Nebraska on their way to Alaska play an integral role in this novel about Mark Schluter whose car lands upside down in the middle of the cranes one night and who comes out of his coma with Capgras Syndrome - a cognitive dysfunction in which he believes that his sister is an imposter.

The way the birds remember the long journey to Alaska and back each year, is a metaphor for Powers' examination of the physiological basis of memory and the tricks this physiology plays with human perception.

What does a bird remember? Nothing that anything else might say. Its body is a map of where it has been, in this life and before. Arriving at these shallows once, the crane colt knows how to return. This time next year it will come back through pairing off for life. The year after next here again, feeding the map to its own new colt. Then one more bird will recall just what birds remember.

Mark's brain concludes from the signals it receives from the sensory impressions of Karin Schluter, that this lady looks, acts, and sounds like his sister, but isn't. Karin, the sister, begins to wonder if she is the same person who was Mark's sister. Gerald Weber, the famous cognitive neurologist's brain raises doubts about his whole career and marriage from his contact with Mark and Karin.

The birds also place everything into the context of time.

The yearling crane's past flows into the now of all living things. Something in its brain learns this river, a word sixty million years older than speech, older even than this flat water.

Karin moves in with an old boyfriend while she cares for her brother after the accident. Daniel, the saintly idealist who lives to save the habitat of the cranes from developers, is the man she admires for his goodness, but who also makes her feel inadequate. Sexually, she can't resist Robert Karsh, another former boyfriend, the moral opposite of Daniel, who is now a wealthy developer planning the condos in the birds' sanctuary.

There is also the mystery of the note left in Mark's hospital room:

I am No One
but Tonight on North Line Road
GOD led me to you
so You could Live
and bring back someone else.
Throughout, the book examines the mysteries of the human brain, its evolutionary functions, and the quirky ways its dysfunctions affect people. Professor Gerald Weber is fictional, yet his famous book, Wider than the Sky, is a real book about the physiology of consciousness, written by Nobel Prize winner Gerald M. Edelman, MD, PhD, some of which can be read online.

Overall, this is a stunning book, that has taken me off into Nebraska, into Mark and Karin's world, into Dr. Weber's questions about academic publishing and the value of his life, into the mystery of how the brain works, and into the lives of the magnificent, prehistoric cranes who we are sometimes lucky to see as they pass through Anchorage on their way further north.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Trials - Why are we doing this?

I first went to the Anderson trial to see for myself and not have to rely on the Anchorage Daily News. I wanted to know what actually happened, and if Tom was guilty, how did he get there? Everything was pretty new to me. I don't think I'd ever been to a Federal trial before. What was the protocol? Not just for the attorneys, but for the spectators, the witnesses, the press. But beyond the courtroom, what does this tell us about how our state business gets done? Why do some legislators get caught up in private side deals and sell out the public interest? How many more are doing similar or worse things, but just didn't happen to have their numbers in the address book of a tapped phone? I have no illusions that we can stop it altogether, but we can establish and maintain rules and institutions that keep it to a minimum.

These are serious questions. I know that corruption has been part of US government from the beginning, but what factors make it more or less likely to happen? Are we in a new age where our national appetite for consumption and our shorter and shorter attention spans makes us more vulnerable?

How much is this whole investigation costing? How did Alaska get high enough on the federal priority list to become active? Particularly with a Justice Department that has been excessively partisan in favor of Republicans and in an administration that is so closely tied to big oil? I suspect there's a story there.

I'm still sorting this out, but here are some thoughts so far:

The first three defendants have been people who appear to have a strong need to please. They were easy targets for anyone who wanted some pull in the legislature. Allen was an inspiring figure for Kott and for Kohring. Bobrick and to some extent Prewitt played that role for Anderson. All three were always asking, "How can I help you?" "Just let me know what you need." None of them seems to have been consciously criminal. At most they thought they were bending the rules. Anderson was most actively involved by his complicity in laundering the money he got. Kohring tended to say things like, "I want to do this right" or "I could check with the Ethics Office" and chanting those mantras seemed all the thought he needed to do to stay ethical. None got very much money and it would be unfair if they end up serving more time than Allen and Smith. But rich criminals tend to do better than poor ones.

Anderson and Kohring both needed money and could be lured by people who could help them out. Kott had $30,000 in cash in his closet, so he didn't need the money. He may have had some deep insecurity about money and thus kept such a large amount in cash at home. Who knows? I think he and Kohring both liked being in the reflected glory of Allen's power and influence.

They all believed that the people who eventually sold them out were their friends. Anderson and Bobrick just hit it off and were planning joint business ventures when Tom got out of the legislature. Kott called Allen, Uncle Bill. He spent a lot of time at Uncle Bill's house. He admired this guy who'd moved up from poverty to great wealth. Kohring also believed that Allen was his friend. And it appears that they did have close relationships and they were friends. But the real question is whether those friendships would have existed if the three hadn't been state representatives. I doubt it.

It's easy to get caught up in the day to day of the courtroom and I'm still trying to figure out an appropriate role and focus. Since I'm in the courtroom and taking notes, it seems reasonable to share what I see with others who don't have the time to be there. And I don't need to worry about how large my audience is - I'm not selling advertisements. I'm concerned though that I'm slipping into areas that aren't that relevant. I'm still trying to figure out, for example, whether my speculation about the defense attorney shed light on anything important. I'm not interested in saying anything that pops into my head, simply because I can. I have no interest in idle chit chat, just in things that help explain what is happening. I'm not as concerned about what the jury eventually decides as I am with the structure and mechanics of government and how to minimize the likelihood that politicians serve special interests instead of the public at large.

Several of us who have been at the trials will be talking on this subject Thursday at noon in the federal building cafeteria. The event is sponsored by the local chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. So some of these thoughts are warm up for that session.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Kohring Trial Day 5 - Quick PM Report

Bill Allen is 70 and he's suffering some cognitive problems from a motorcycle accident without a helmet. He's also pled guilty to felony crimes and is cooperating with the US Government on a number of cases. But he still has some of the juice that enabled him to move from picking crops to help support his family and dropping out of high school at age 15 to having sold his business for $400 million in September this year.

In this trial and at Kott's, we were told that his thinking is still clear, but he has trouble putting his thoughts into words at times. He did well for much of the testimony, but there were times with both the prosecutor and the defense attorney where he just wasn't processing. He's also wearing head phones to help him hear.

On a several occasions he wouldn't surrender to the defense attorney's line of reasoning. When Browne was trying to get Allen to admit that except for one occasion, no one else saw him give money to Vic Kohring.

Browne:The only evidence we have besides your word is the video interception where you are giving him money and you are talking about Easter eggs. Beyond that we have no evidence except what you said.
BA: That’s not true, Rick Smith knew it.
B: I’m not talking about Rick Smith. Is there any other evidence other than your word?
BA: Rick Smith knew when I was going to do it a couple of times.
At times when Allen didn't seem to be able to process what was going on, or at least couldn't articulate what he was thinking, it was like trying to reason with a small child, and Browne's voice got louder and sounded more irritated when Allen didn't answer his question at all or in ways that showed he wasn't processing.

Overall, I think the prosecution gained back some ground they lost yesterday. Sullivan wrapped up the questioning of Rick Smith and then Joseph Bottini took over when Allen took the witness stand. In some ways this was a repeat performance - the discussion of Allen's background that's in the previous post was very close to what was said in the Kott trail.

The prosecution scored points when they asked Allen about how close his friendship with Kohring was. A big point has been made that there was a bond between the two because they both were with Russian women - Kohring's wife and Allen's then girlfriend. Another link was that they both had daughters. But today Allen said he had never met Kohring's wife and that Kohring had never met his Russian girlfriend. And that the girlfriend had no children. There was other testimony that would indicate the relationship was less social than business. [jb is Joe Bottini, the prosecutor, BA is Bill Allen]

JB: When you socialize with VK. what did you do?
BA: He’d call me on the phone. I seen him a lot in Juneau.
JB Go to dinner?
BA: Yeah
JB: Who paid?
BA I did
JB: Ever met his wife?
JB: Step daugher?
BA: No
JB: Ever have a girlfriend from Russia? Way back. Kohring ever met her? NO Did Rita have a daughter? No, she doesn’t have any kids.
BA: Recall VK calling you at home?
BA: No, but at my office
JB: Know where he lived? No

But probably the biggest impact was the showing of the video tape of Bill Allen taking bills out of his pocket and handing them over to Vic Kohring. Bottini had requested permission to show the clip and Browne didn't object. You can see the tape the clip is from at ADN [at the site click on "FBI surveillance video: Vic Kohring" then go to Trial Exhibit 11: March 30, 2006. Move the bar to about 3:07:00 where they talk about Easter eggs]
[You can fast forward that little button just below the picture - it's right above the timer and sound icon above. Or you can listen to it all. It begins with Kohring talking about how he owes $17000 on his credit cards and he needs some help.]

More thoughts later, but want to get something out fairly quickly.

Kohring Trial Day 5 - Bill Allen Takes the Stand

U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska
Court Calendar for Friday, October 26, 2007

9:00 AM 3:07-CR-00055-JWS Judge Sedwick Anchorage Courtroom 3

Most of the morning was going over points each side was trying to make or dispute. Smith was still on the witenss stand when I got in at 9:20am and Browne was cross examining.

How did the nephew get his job? Defense was trying to show that the 'recruiting' department was going to contact him, that he was actually recruited and went through all the proper processes for getting the job. Browne kept jumping around from topic to topic. The truck, he never got a truck from you?

They looked at the plea agreement and Browne reiterated the point that the government WILL recommend a reduced sentence if Smith cooperates sufficiently.

He continued to try to distinguish Kott from Kohring - trying to emphasize that Kott worked very specifically and hard to get the legislation passed whereas Kohring never voted for ppt. That Kott got more in payments - the flooring money, promise of a Veco job. Kohring was working for a friend. Veco paid for political polls for Kott but not for Kohring. Later prosecution was able to get Smith to say, over Browne's objection, that if Kohring had asked they probably would have done a poll for him.

I got the impression there was less tolerance for leading the witness. At one point, after allowing something that Sullivan objected to, the judge said that he was getting tired of telling the jury that what the lawyers say isn’t evidence. And the judge seemed a little testy with Browne when Sullivan had to keep objecting because "this has already been answered."

J: That goes well beyond the scope of redirect and is something you’ve covered
It ended there and Bill Allen was called in as the next witness. Bottini took over the questioning from Sullivan. Bill Allen is just an interesting guy with an interesting biography. I'll just stick my notes here. Note, as always, a lot is missing and I've often incorporated the answer into the question just to kee up. But Allen's slower speech makes it a little easier.

Not sure there is a lot here vital to the case, but it really is a piece of Alaska history. Perhaps the ADN will have the audio up tonight or tomorrow. In the mean time:

Bill James Allen, w. 11th Anchorage

Bottini: How old - I’m 70. 39 years in AK, born Soccoro NM, b. 1937 Motorcycle accident in 201. On a harley, took my helmet off, I shouldnt have. guy in front of me didn’t have break lights and I had to lay it down. Screwed up my speech.
Affect thought process? No
How affect? Sometimes I’ll saw the right or wrong word. Or sometimes can’t get it out of my mouth.
Where grow up? Oregon. Four brothers and ? sisters. I was right in the middle.
We picked fruit and hoed strawberries and stuff like that.
When moved to Oregon at 8, had you already started school? Didn’t go to school for about a year when 8. We were pretty poor, so we all had to work, picking fruit or hoeing the fields.
Eventually continued? About 9 or 10, Dad got a job in little place Lisle, Oregon and got back into school Till I was 15, Then moved back to NM with mother and brothers and sisters. I had to quit, I was a sophomore in HS, had to go back to work to support mother and other brothers and sisters.
What work? Got a job helping a welder, worked for El Paso natural gas. 15 years old.
I really loved welding and pipe particularly. I broke out, I done the tests when I was 17. That means I was a welder. It was a hard test. You had to weld an 8 inch pipe, They really take it all apart to see how well.
Did you progress to being a supervisor. About 21 or 22 forman over refinery or ? stations. I think 24 supervisor over pipe and whatever refinery, from that supervising went up to bigger jobs.
What geo part of US? New Mexico, Ok, Tx, Louisiana, went to LA and got into the union in LA, I think 250 pipe and welding union.
All oil and gas related? yes
Came to AK when? 1968. It was my wife wanted to go to AK cause her mom was here. I didn’t want to leave those positions in LA, but I told her I would, I would stay 3 months and was going back, because I thought I had a good deal in LA, and I’m still here.
When you came what kind of work? Supervision over pipe with another ??. Arco asked me to go into business with the King Salmon platform. A production platform, they produced quite a bit of oil, but of course the reserves finally quit. They may still have a little oil. Producing 54K barrels. Right out of Kenai in Cook Inlet.
Arco wanted you to do some work for them? Structural, particularly with pipe. Who were you working for? ? Little bitty outfit.called Waggly
Arco wanted me to stay there, so they asked me if I’d go into business so they could keep me? About the same time Wayne Veltry had the sparks, another platform Arco had. They asked if we could go together. When you have a shut down, you need more help. I’d help Wayne on the Sparks and he’d help me on the King Salmon. That was 68.

Name of that business? Wayne went to get it done. Wayne not good on pipe and he went into town to form the company, when he came back it was Veltry enterprises. i wasn’t sure I liked that. He went back and came back and said how about VE construction? I said fine.

At some time buy him out? wayne wanted to get out of platforms so I bought his 50%. Still VE construction? Yeah for long time, sometime in 70’s had engineering and stuff so I took VE const and it became VECO.

Still servicing the platforms Yes. arco wanted me to go up and build a pipeline in 71 or 72. It was a natural gas fuel pipeline for their camp. At Prudhoe. Was that the first work you starting doing on the Nslope? About 71.

Did VE con continue in 70s on slope? We didn’t get the oil pipeline permit and everything was kinda, wasn’t as good as it was, still had a lot of pipe work in Cook Inlet. KNew there was big boom coming in N Sea between Scotland and Norway. Started company with 50% with English company. Tar people...get some water….They were in the tar business TPTR I think.

VE const. continue in AK, didn’t shut down? I went back and forth. Same work we did on platforms in CI. A lot bigger. We done a lot a hook up, modules, it was a pretty they was a lot work, it was a boom. Started in 72 and built it up to 77, then Norwegian gov started taxing everybody. Norwegians thought they knew enough to do the oil field. Idecided time to get out and sold my half to English company I talked about.

Successful venture. Put money back on the slope. By then we had the permit to build the oilgas pipeline. Put money into camps , these shops, equipment, and it was a pretty good, timeing pretty good.

How big had VE Const grown? How many employees? Probably 2000 here in AK?
Who were clients:? BP ARco, Exxon,
Change VE cons to VECO, Continue to grow? Yeah. I bought that drilling rig company in GJ Colorado. Already had engineering, about that time brought VE construction down to VECO.

Did VEco ultimately become international? Yeah,we ah, I sold the ah drilling company and bought a ship yard in channel view right next to Houston. we built a lot of platforms in Gulf of Mexico. We still have AK, and 84, there was an agreement with unions, when building the oil pipeline and facilities ont he slope. That agreement ended in 84. they went to non-union. THen Veco got a lot of work ont he slope because we were non-uniion.

Four to Five thousand employees. Probably 50% alaska. AK always been the backbone.

BP, CPhillips (bought Arco, BP got part of ARco) and Exxon major oil partners.

2005 what role did you have in mgt of Veco? I was the Chairman. We asked about corp structure. Veco Corp, Subsidiaries?
BA: We had regions, Canada, Lower 48, Mid East, and Russia.
Bot: have a management team at V? Sr Management TEam
BA: Pete Leathard, President; Roger Conn, Overall Finance CEO Fin; Rick Smith, under me with Govt. can’t remember title; Jamie Slack, HD, saying it right? HR
Tom Corcharon, controller.

JB: 2005, total revenue?
BA: Pretty close to a billion. I think as far as private profit, 70%, 60% from AK
JB: Children
BA: Three. Mark had mgt position, maybe 8 years. At the end Tammy Carrigan was the chairman
JB: Sold Veco?
BA: Closing was 6th or 7th of September this year.
JB: While running Veco here in AK, did V get involved in politics?
BA: Yeah, I think I started in 84. the native coprs, particularly Arctic Slope they could tax the oil companies on the slope, stop permits. I thought if I didn’t get into politics the native corps would have pushed me out?
JB ??
BA: They had more horse power politically than I did, so I thought I’d get into politics.
I hired a guy as a lobbyist. Ed Dankworth. About 84.
BA: He lobbies Leg on what you’re trying to get done. Mine was oil industries. I knew if they were ok, they’d have work we could bid on.
I think Dankworth and I got crossways when we bought the Anchorage times. I wanted Ed to work with ACS, Chuck …………..can’t say his last name……………
JB Chuck Robinson? What was Anch Times
BA: Newspaper here in AK, in competition with Daily News. I think I bought it in 1989.
I wanted Dank to help Chuck, he really tried to help the Anch Times with advertising. I asked Ed if he would help him and he said no, I won’t do that, because he was … the other company. I’m sorry, drinking.
B: I have no problem with leading questions
BA: the other phone company
JB: GCI? yes

JB: Fund raisers?
BA: We done that with Ed. You organize an event and get everybody who likes a candidate. We have some food, drink, take their checks. They like the candidate, then we take the money and give that candidate, I think this thing (earphone) has quit.

J: here’s another

J: works on infra red, line of sight, if he turns his head it doesn’t work.
JB: also politically active for campaign contributions?
BA: that’s what fundraisers for.
RS came to work for us when we had the spill, when i bought the paper, he told me by that time, Ed was gone, hey, I could organize those fund raisers. I didn’t know but I let him try. He did a good job. He always done the fund raisers.

JB promoted to mgt
BA: Government Affairs, VP
JB: over the years, did you attend, become close to legislators
BA: Ramona Barnes, she’s died. John Cowdery, Pete Kott, Vic Kohring. Beverly Masek. I can go on for…
JB OK, Became active as far as individual contributions. Did Veco develop programs where senior execs were reimbursed for campaign contributions
BA: Special bonus. It was supposed to been, if they wanted to be into politics, you know, mostly the candidates would like oil industry, there was a charity, so we gave them the money, they supposed to do it or not do it. Once we give them the money it was there money. I thought it was legal. I think it really is.
Objection, there isn’t a question?
JB: Some of the execs directed to whom they should contribute?
BA: Yes they were, that’s why it didn’t work.

JB: what issues you concerned with in leg?
BA: oil tax, permits
JB: good place to stop?

Photo: Prosecutor Sullivan in the cafeteria. I'm still uncomfortable taking pictures of people who'd rather I didn't, but I don't think he can object to this one. He sat down nearby where I was writing this.