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Wolf's comments disservice to hardworking state employees

Posted: Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Every year, the Kenai River Sportsfishing Association (KRSA), a nonprofit organization, hosts the Kenai River Classic to raise money for their efforts on behalf of sportsfishing on the Kenai River. The 2 1/2-day event hosted by U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens features flightseeing, entertainment, fishing and the chance to meet a variety of special guests, including members of Congress and the Alaska Legislature. Trophies or mounted fish are awarded to participants who catch the most fish, the longest fish and the largest fish. No cash prizes are awarded.

Last year, Rep. Kelly Wolf (R-Kenai) called for an investigation of KRSA's finances out of concern that the Classic was a derby and subject to state gaming laws. The Department of Revenue investigated this event and found no violation. This determination was made based upon the gaming laws and after review of KRSA's records, interviews with its staff and with the assistance of the Department of Law.

Statements attributed to Rep. Wolf in a story published by the Clarion on June 20 attacked the investigation's findings. Rep. Wolf was quoted as saying, "I always knew the state wouldn't do anything." The article reported that Rep. Wolf "believes the state's decision was predetermined, and that KRSA holds too much influence over state officials for a fair investigation to have taken place." Most troubling is the quote from Rep. Wolf asserting that, "I think the Attorney General had been bought off."

I strongly disagree with these statements. The state did act. It concluded a thorough investigation based on the facts and on sound interpretation of the gaming laws. This work was free from any political or other influence.

I must protest Mr. Wolf's assertion that the attorney general was "bought off." If this were just a personal attack at me, I would let it lie. But this careless comment is a smear on the extraordinary efforts and integrity of the dedicated lawyers who do the hard work of the attorney general's office. My office and the Department of Revenue arrived at conclusions based on thorough investigation and sound legal analysis, not political pressure. Moreover, the results of this investigation and legal analysis are available for public scrutiny.

Rep. Wolf's comments were a disservice to the employees within my office and the Department of Revenue who do their jobs with a high degree of integrity and intellect and were unfit for an individual holding a constitutional office in the state Legislature.

Gregg Renkes

Alaska Attorney General



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