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Independence Party candidate withdraws from senate race

Posted: September 3, 2014 - 10:01pm

JUNEAU — Vic Kohring, who was nominated for U.S. Senate last month by the Alaskan Independence Party, withdrew his candidacy in the interest of getting a “good Republican elected.”

The departure on Tuesday of Kohring, a former state lawmaker who pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge in 2011, has left the party without a candidate. Kohring encouraged all Alaskans, regardless of political affiliation, to support Republican candidate Dan Sullivan over U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska.

The race has drawn national attention, with Republicans seeing Begich as vulnerable as he competes for a second term. The GOP needs to pick up six seats to win control of the Senate.

Kohring said in a statement that he didn’t want to take votes away from Sullivan “that could possibly tilt the election to Begich” and contribute to Democrats retaining control of the Senate.

The Sullivan campaign “welcomes support from all Alaskans who believe that Mark Begich must be retired in November,” spokesman Mike Anderson said by email.

Begich campaign manager Susanne Fleek-Green said the timing of Kohring’s withdrawal and endorsement smacks of an “orchestrated attempt to deliver Alaska’s U.S. Senate seat for Dan Sullivan.” Sullivan’s campaign said it was not in contact with Kohring about the move.

Kohring had switched his party affiliation from Republican to the Alaskan Independence Party in early June. He said people who supported him knew his principles were closely aligned with the GOP’s.

Gail Fenumiai, director of the Division of Elections, confirmed Wednesday that Kohring had requested his name be withdrawn from the ballot. She said no replacement candidate was offered by Tuesday’s deadline.

The chairwoman of the Alaskan Independence Party said she had just returned from a trip and could not immediately comment.

Begich has said repeatedly he expects the race to be extremely tight. Sullivan has demonstrated a fundraising prowess on par with Begich since entering the race last October.

Voters who don’t identify with a specific party make up the largest voting bloc in Alaska, and Begich and Sullivan are making a play for them. Republicans hold a huge edge over the other parties.

About 16,000 voters are registered with the Alaskan Independence Party, about twice the number of registered libertarians. There were about 133,000 registered Republicans as of early August, according to the Division of Elections.

Begich’s campaign has said it wants all party nominees included in debates. With Kohring’s exit, that would leave libertarian Mark Fish.

Fish, running on a common campaign theme of less interference by the federal government, rejected suggestion he could be a spoiler. Fish said he gets the sense people aren’t happy with just two options.

“I know I can’t compete on a money basis with Republicans and Democrats, obviously. But I do have ballot access, and I do have a voice,” he said. “And I think when people see that and hear that, word can spread and we can be taken seriously.”

Little-known independent and write-in candidates are also expected to run.

Kohring and another former state lawmaker, Pete Kott, were convicted in 2007 after being caught in a wide-ranging political corruption investigation that also ensnared then-U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. But the government’s handling of their cases was questioned after a judge tossed Stevens’ case due to prosecutorial errors. An appeals court made similar findings in the cases of Kott and Kohring, ordering they receive new trials.

Kott and Kohring entered plea agreements with prosecutors in 2011, with Kohring pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs that receive federal funds. They were sentenced to time served.

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jford 09/04/14 - 12:50 am
Admitted felon, corrupt bribery criminal endorses,

…'good Republican'.

If I were writing fiction I couldn't conceive of anything more ludicrous.

Kohring pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery.

On May 4, 2007, former Representatives Pete Kott (R-Eagle River) and Bruce Weyhrauch (R-Juneau) were arrested and charged with bribery, extortion wire and mail fraud. Then-Representative Vic Kohring (R-Wasilla) later turned himself in and was similarly charged. All three were arraigned in Juneau. Charges against the three involved allegations of soliciting and receiving money and favors from VECO chief executive officer Bill Allen and chief lobbyist and V.P. Rick Smith in return for their votes on an oil tax law favored by VECO that was the subject of vigorous debate during the 2006 legislative session and two special sessions in 2006.

The Alaska political corruption probe refers to a 2004 to 2010 widespread investigation by the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service into political corruption of several then-current or former Alaskan state lawmakers, as well as Republican US Representative Don Young and then-US Senator, Republican Ted Stevens. Sometimes referred to as 'The Corrupt Bastard's Club' or the 'Polar Pen Investigation', the investigation focused on the oil industry, fisheries and for-profit prison industries.

More than 20 search warrants were served.

A dozen or more of the corrupt received campaign 'donations' from VECO, quite a few got illegal contributions. A few are still in public office, certainly none should be.

Another dozen were indicted for bribery, extortion and fraud, another handful escaped indictment but were just as culpable none the less.

These people, all supposed to be 'good Republicans' themselves all got busted, they're criminal felons caught committing crimes against the public.

Good Republicans.

And now another one comes along, who incidentally thought it would be a good thing for him to run for public office again, and to top that off, thinks he should be handing out endorsements.

Couldn't make it up and have it be any more ludicrous.

Sullivan's supporters are convicted felons, admitted criminals, guilty of bribery and fraud committed while in public office and they think maybe they ought to be not only running again, but handing out endorsements.

High hilarity. Vote for Sullivan, he's got the convicted criminal endorsement.

(...high praise,

Raoulduke 09/04/14 - 07:33 pm
A Good What ?

In Alaska one means" A Good Republican". One must have The following qualifications "Graft,Corruption,Bribery.The selling of the Alaskan,and Alaska to the Oil Industry.The mismanagement of the States resources.We are operating at a fiscal loss($7 million per day)".Which goes against the states Constitution.Yep!The voters got .Just what they voted for.Let's just say.I would not want a letter of recommendation from anyone in Juneau.I believe. I have a great deal more moral fiber.Than can be found in any good Alaskan Republican.Alaskan's would give away the farm before they would do the right thing for the state.Does any Alaskan have any idea what could have been accomplished with $20 Billion ? No you do not!But you have made the politicians,and the oil Industry richer.Alaska?You made into a welfare state for the oil Industry.CONGRATULATION'S!

Raoulduke 09/05/14 - 08:35 pm

Is The Alaska Independence Party A party for state secession?Can these people be that ungrateful?Then if so. Why even bother with such ANTI-AMERICAN subversives in our politics? Wanting to secede is a desire to be a NON-AMERICAN. If that be the case.Then I would suggest. They move to independently minded countries such as CHAD,or SAUDI ARABIA.What a sham the AIP truly is.

Norseman 09/05/14 - 10:30 pm
I wonder how much he got paid

I wonder how much he got paid this time for running this scam....

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