On Tuesday, June 19, at the chamber of commerce luncheon in Wasilla, I announced my resignation from the state House of Representatives, a body I served in for more than 12 years. The chamber gave me only five minutes to speak. Five minutes did not allow enough time to give a full accounting of why I decided to resign and the background for that decision. I believe this column gives a more complete narrative.
The federal government charged me with a short list of serious crimes involving the current oil industry scandal. Not only am I innocent of these charges, but frankly I would not even know how to commit them if I wanted to. I intend to work hard to prove my innocence at trial this October, but until then I’ve been instructed by the court not to get into details.
I want my friends, constituents and associates to know that I announced my resignation so I’m able to fully focus on my trial. My attorney has advised me to thoroughly prepare for it so I am able to present a solid case.
This must be my first priority for the next few months.
I weighed the options. I could stay in office and continue to do my constituent work and attend special sessions, while simultaneously preparing for the trial and raising money to pay for my defense team. I could do all these things at once, but my efforts would be distributed so thin as to not give justice to any single one.
Thus I must give priority to the one thing that will make all others possible. The plan is to give my trial full attention, win it and then return to public life with a clean slate.
My resignation is effective July 19, 30 days from the date of my announcement. This allows adequate time to complete my pending constituent cases and give the governor and others time to find a replacement.
This is not a goodbye. I consider it more like a leave of absence from public service. Since the Legislature must operate on trust, I cannot continue while a cloud of accusations surround me.
I thank my friends for sticking by me and encouraging me to keep my seat, but one of the reasons to step down is to not act without the full confidence of my constituents. Only by winning in court can I show my innocence and regain that confidence.
I always felt people of the Mat-Su have a wonderful free market, glorious individualism in them. It is that philosophy I serve. To strive for these principles is a wonderful goal. I want to return to it and many of you have encouraged me to.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you for your loyalty and support over the years. You welcomed me at your doorstep as I went door-to-door. Many of you provided a sign location, wrote a check or sent in a letter-to-the-editor to help elect me.
It has been a tremendous honor serving you. I hope to do so again.
Rep. Vic Kohring serves Wasilla and the Mat-Su in the Alaska State Legislature
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