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Coffey's letter to judge raises serious questions about his judgment

  • Author: Mike Dingman
  • Updated: May 31, 2016
  • Published March 24, 2015

You might be wondering what Dan Coffey was thinking. Last week, KTVA reported that Coffey sent a letter to media outlets demanding that they not play a recording that was made of him talking to fellow Assembly member Bill Starr. However, he might welcome that distraction from a much more serious issue.

The recording, which is referred to in the letter his attorney sent to media outlets, is very damning. In the conversation he talks about giving donations to other candidates, saying he will "dole them out at $250 a pop."

Coffey was laughing while explaining "doling out" cash and claims that he was joking around with a fellow Assembly member. Issues like this, while they are certainly questionable, fall within the ethical and moral gray area.

Embracing and sticking up for a guy who helped girls as young as 13 get hooked on crack and prostituting them -- now that's a completely different story.

Josef Boehm pleaded guilty to sex trafficking and drug charges in November 2004. In a letter dated April 20, 2005, Dan Coffey wrote in support of leniency for Boehm.

Besides illustrating a very close business relationship between Coffey and Boehm, this letter also demonstrates a disturbing lack of judgment on Coffey's part.

In the three-page letter to Judge John Sedwick, Coffey talks about business deals he made with Boehm. He discusses the two Josef Boehms he knew: the one before his drug addiction and the one he got to know in the midst of his addiction.

On its face, one could see a friend, or a close business associate, who was watching his buddy deteriorate and was concerned about him. In an explanation of the letter on his website, Coffey explains that he was simply describing, factually, what he saw. Coffey did not provide a copy of the letter on his website.

If you believe Coffey's description of these events based on both his letter to the judge and the description of the letter on his campaign website, they still should raise concern about his judgment.

In the letter to the judge Coffey discusses the first time he met Boehm when he was in the process of acquiring property. Coffey says, "At that time Joe was very much involved in the business of his company."

In the next paragraph of the letter, he talks about dealing with the other Boehm -- the drug addict. Coffey says, "I next dealt with Joe in late 2001. It was clear to me that at that time that this Joe Boehm was a very different man than the Joe Boehm I had met in the Bielawski transaction." He continues, "Unlike in the previous transaction Joe was not focused on the deal. He was difficult to contact. He missed meetings. He didn't return phone calls."

Coffey goes on to describe three different transactions that he worked on with Boehm after his addiction. In all three of these transactions, he describes Boehm's behavior as "strange." He says that in two of the transactions, no deal was ever made, but they did make a deal in the third, which led to a restaurant in Anchorage.

In fact, in the letter on Coffey's campaign website explaining his letter to the judge, he says, "During the course of the business transaction, I had several opportunities to observe Boehm's behavior, which included missing meetings, attending meetings when he was not lucid or attentive and generally not acting in a rational manner for a businessman involved in a multi-million dollar development."

The question most reasonable voters would ask after looking through these two documents is, what ethical attorney would continue with these deals after he knew the client was in no condition to consent to the terms? In Coffey's own words, Boehm "was not lucid or attentive and generally not acting in a rational manner for a businessman involved in a multi-million dollar development."

So why did Dan Coffey allow him to continue in this multimillion-dollar development? Why did Coffey continue to represent him in three separate deals when he didn't believe he was competent to make decisions in these types of deals?

Another very disturbing part of this letter comes in the final page of the three-page document. In talking about Boehm settling lawsuits with some corporations and his victims, Coffey refers to the victims in quotation marks -- inferring in this case that the victims aren't actually victims. These are underage and very young women, who were provided crack cocaine and various other drugs by Boehm, but Coffey still doesn't believe they are victims in this letter?

Much like Coffey questioned Boehm's ability to make rational decisions, residents of Anchorage should, based on this pattern of behavior, question Coffey's ability to lead. Is this the character of a man we are looking to make the multimillion-dollar decisions facing Anchorage in the next three years? Is this the decision-making you want out of your next mayor? It will be your decision to make on April 7.

Mike Dingman is a fifth-generation Alaskan born and raised in Anchorage. He is a former UAA student body president and has worked, studied and volunteered in Alaska politics since the late 1990s. Email him at michaeldingman@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, e-mail commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com

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