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Montana investigating Walker's former Alaska Fish Board appointee

JUNEAU -- A Montana law enforcement official said his state has opened a criminal investigation into Roland Maw, who was appointed by Gov. Bill Walker to the Alaska Board of Fisheries in January but who withdrew his name from consideration last week without explanation.

Jim Kropp, the director of law enforcement for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said in a phone interview Monday that Maw was under an active criminal investigation. His state had exchanged information with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, he added.

Kropp wouldn't answer questions about the subject or scope of the investigation beyond confirming that it was related to Maw. But a spokesman for the Montana agency, Ron Aasheim, said the matter involved the possession of Montana resident licenses by Maw.

Referring to his agency's conversations with Fish and Game, Aasheim said, "We're cooperating with your crew as to whether or not the individual has licenses in two states that were illegal to have."

Reached by phone Monday, Maw said he didn't want to speak with a reporter and wouldn't answer questions.

A spokeswoman for Walker declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation. A spokeswoman at Fish and Game said the agency doesn't conduct investigations and referred questions to the Alaska State Troopers, where another spokeswoman wouldn't say whether it was cooperating with Montana's efforts.

Since 2003, Maw has held a card that allows Alaskans over age 60 to hunt, sportfish or trap for free, though the card must be given up if the holder no longer is a resident of Alaska. He also was issued other sportfishing licenses in Alaska as early as 1996, according to state records.

Kropp, the Montana law enforcement official, wouldn't say whether Maw ever held resident hunting or fishing licenses there, citing the department's investigation.

Maw, who supported Walker's campaign last year, was appointed last month. That was after the Fish Board's chairman resigned when Walker told him he wouldn't be re-appointed.

Maw previously led a Cook Inlet commercial fishing industry group and his selection drew skepticism from sportfishing advocates and some Anchorage and Mat-Su lawmakers, who cited Maw's past efforts to limit sportfishing.

Several legislators said it was unlikely Maw's appointment would have been confirmed, especially because he would have swung a traditional balance on the Fish Board between members sympathetic to sport and commercial fishing interests.

"He was a political corpse," Sen. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, a sportfishing advocate, said in an interview Monday.

The Fish Board on Monday began nine days of meetings in Sitka, with one of the seven seats open until Walker chooses a new appointee in place of Maw. Walker also will have to make another appointment when the term of Orville Huntington ends June 30.

"The seafood industry is patiently waiting to figure out what the governor's direction and strategy is going to be regarding the upcoming board of fish appointments," Julianne Curry, the executive director of United Fishermen of Alaska, said in a phone interview.

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