Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: Jim Clark, Governor Murkowski's former Chief of Staff, will plead guilty

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Jim Clark, Governor Murkowski's former Chief of Staff, will plead guilty

It sure doesn't seem like the FBI Corruption Train is going to end anytime soon!
Per the ADN:
The federal corruption investigation reached into the office of former Gov. Frank Murkowski Monday when his chief of staff, Jim Clark, agreed to plead guilty to a felony conspiracy charge involving the defunct oil-field company Veco.

Clark, once the most powerful non-elected state official, admitted to joining Veco chairman Bill Allen and others to secretly spend $68,550 of the company’s money on polls and a political consultant for Murkowski’s failed re-election bid in 2006.

The payments represented an illegal campaign contribution to Murkowski by Veco and illegal expenditures by Murkowski’s failed campaign, the government charged. The payments went undisclosed on Murkowski’s campaign finance reports, a violation of Alaska law, the government said.

I'm betting that Jim Clark probably regrets riling David Dittman back in October, claiming that Dittman's testimony at Pete Kott's trial was false and they never told him to "bill it to Veco."

From Alaska Politics Blog in October:
At the end of September, Jim Clark, chief of staff to former Gov. Frank Murkowski, said, "Neither Gov. Murkowski nor I instructed David Dittman to do a poll and bill it to Veco."

That denial did not sit well with Mr. Dittman. Clark's response contradicted Dittman's sworn testimony in the federal corruption trial of former House Speaker Pete Kott. In effect, Clark is accusing Dittman of perjury.

Mr. Dittman stands by his statement. He told Daily News editorial writers Wednesday, "After that, I called Clark and told him he'd better refresh his memory. I have e-mail records. He's there."

If what Mr. Dittman says is true, Veco's poll, done at a cost of $20,000, was illegal corporate aid to Gov. Murkowski.

Dittman testified that he did more polls that he billed to Veco..."four or five" in all. According to Dittman's testimony:
Taking his turn in the witness stand, pollster Dave Dittman said Veco paid him to conduct polls for candidates, including Kott and then-Gov. Frank Murkowski. Such corporate-funded polls for candidates are illegal, according to the head of the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Dittman indicated on the stand that he did have some concerns about the legality of the polls.

I'm curious if any other Dittman clients will be popping up with indictments?

Meanwhile, Clark's plea deal opens up a broad spectrum of possibilities:
That same year, a large field of candidates sought the governor’s office, but only the incumbent, Murkowski, supported the negotiated agreement with the producers, prosecutors said. That made him Veco’s candidate, even as his popularity was plummeting among Alaska voters.

The Veco conspiracy Clark joined was one in which Veco and Murkowski would benefit, the government charged.

And let's not forget the other "big fish."
In a document describing the facts that Clark was pleading to, the government said that it was “merely” summarizing some of Clark’s illegal conduct, “but not all.” Clark is required by his plea deal to join a growing list of cooperating government witnesses required to testify before grand juries and at trials. The government is seeking to delay his sentencing at least six months because of the complexity of the ongoing inquiry.

While the agreement protects Clark from additional related federal charges as long as he assists the government, it doesn’t block the state from pursuing its own charges.

Additional legislators, Stevens and U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, are among those being investigated.

This election in November is looking better and better.

UPDATE: More from What Do I know? and "Progressive Alaska" blogs.


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3/09/2008 12:15 PM  

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