- Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A state ethics committee is fining a former state legislator more than $18,000 over claims that he sought a job with an oil company while helping to draft oil tax legislation 10 years ago.

The House Subcommittee of the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics released its probable cause complaint and final opinion Tuesday in the case of Bruce Weyhrauch (WHY’-rock), who represented Juneau from 2003 to 2006.

The committee alleges that Weyhrauch violated the Legislative Ethics Act by securing a promise of future employment with oil services company VECO while he worked on the Petroleum Profits Tax bill. The legislation was supported by then-Gov. Frank Murkowski.

Weyhrauch is also accused of trying to make sure the bill would benefit VECO in exchange for job opportunity and encouraging other lawmakers to vote a certain way on the oil tax legislation, KTOO-FM reported (https://bit.ly/24dMbPI).

The committee found that Weyhrauch had 51 amendments drafted for the bill as the Legislature met in spring 2006. In that same year, he is accused of sending six letters soliciting clients and employment to VECO, BP Exploration and ExxonMobil.

There is no evidence that Weyhrauch ever secured a job with VECO, but the ethics committee said his actions demonstrated a conflict of interest.

Reached Wednesday, Weyhrauch directed all questions to his attorney, Doug Pope.

“We contest everything that’s in that probable cause finding, other than the fact that Bruce was a legislator,” Pope said.

Pope said Weyhrauch has cooperated with the committee during the investigation and the panel still needs to prove its claims.

“They’re going to have to prove that before the full committee and they’re going to have to justify their decision before a court of law,” Pope said.

The ethics committee, during a January meeting, fined Weyhrauch $5,000 for each of the three violations and an additional $3,104 for expenses related to the investigation. He has been ordered to pay the $18,104 fine by Feb. 16, 2017.

Weyhrauch faced federal charges in May 2007 after a corruption investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice resulted in the indictments of other lawmakers, including former House Speaker Pete Kott and former Wasilla Rep. Vic Kohring.

Weyhrauch eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor state charge of aiding an unregistered lobbyist in a plea deal with federal prosecutors who agreed to drop four felony charges against him.

VECO, an Alaska-based multinational company that performed maintenance, construction and design work for oil companies, is defunct. It was sold in 2007 after former CEO Bill Allen pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska politicians.


Information from: KTOO-FM, https://www.ktoo.org

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