Former Alaska Rep. Weyhrauch cited by ethics committee on corruption charges

JUNEAU — Nearly a decade after receiving a complaint, the legislative ethics committee this week charged former Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch with violating state ethics law stemming from the FBI's wide-ranging corruption probe of the Alaska Legislature.

The federal charges ultimately led to a plea deal in 2011 in which Weyhrauch, a Juneau Republican, pleaded guilty to a state corruption violation. An unrelated ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court weakened the federal fraud statute under which Weyhrauch was originally charged.

In an opinion issued Wednesday, the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics asked Weyhrauch, an attorney, to pay a fine of $18,100 to resolve the complaint against him.

It also asked him to write a "public letter of apology" to sitting lawmakers and statewide media.

This week's opinion mirrored the initial criminal case against Weyhrauch, which involved him asking for legal work from oil field service company Veco and its chief executive, Bill Allen, while Allen was pushing lawmakers for lower oil taxes.

The committee said Weyhrauch, as a legislator, violated three parts of the Legislative Ethics Act by:

• Asking for a job from Veco in exchange for pushing oil tax legislation beneficial to the company.

• Agreeing to take official action in exchange for a promised job with Veco.

• Taking official action on oil tax legislation favorable to Veco while negotiating for a job.

The committee has issued several other opinions against legislators charged in the federal corruption investigation, but none since 2012, according to records provided by the committee.

Under state ethics law, Weyhrauch can pay the fine and write the apology letter, or he can request either a public hearing or a confidential meeting with an ethics subcommittee.

Weyhrauch on Thursday referred a request for comment to an attorney, Doug Pope, who said the former legislator would "contest every bit" of the committee's findings.

Pope said the nine years it took the committee to issue its opinion would probably be explored — a delay that he described as a sword hanging over the heads of Weyhrauch and his wife.

"We always wondered why it was taking so long," Pope said.

Jerry Anderson, the committee's administrator, said the investigation took nearly a decade because of its scope and complexity, and also because the committee did little work while the federal investigation and prosecution was taking place.

The committee's opinion said it held meetings in 2007, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016.

"This was very extensive on this particular one," Anderson said.