As I mentioned
, another Alaskan mucky muck has gone down for public corruption. Jim Clark -- lawyer, lobbyist, and former chief of staff to Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski (father of current U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski) -- pleaded guilty today to a single conspiracy count.
Typically the way these plea deals work is for the cooperating defendant to plead guilty to some concise and discreet set of facts that doesn't tip off other targets of the investigation as to prosecutors' intentions. So you can bet, and the plea documents here suggest, that Clark was guilty of a lot more than that single conspiracy count.
But even that one count contains some tantalizing information. Clark admits to conspiring to have Veco, the Alaska oilfield contractor that is at the center of the federal investigation, make payments totaling more than $68,000 to two pollsters and a political consultant for services provided to then-Gov. Murkowski's 2006 re-election campaign.
Who are they?
Here's an excerpt from the Information filed in court today (emphasis mine):
5. Polling Company A was a business that provides polling services for political campaigns. Polling Company A was located in the State of Alaska.
6. Polling Company B was a business that provides polling services for political campaigns. Polling Company B was located in a jurisdiction other than the State of Alaska.
7. CONSULTANT A was a consultant who provided strategic analysis and other services to the campaign of the Governor of the State of Alaska. CONSULTANT Aâs business and residence were located in a jurisdiction other than the State of Alaska.
Polling Company A is not identified by name in the court filings today, but Anchorage pollster David Dittman told
the Anchorage Daily News
last fall that Veco had paid him $20,000 for a poll for Murkowski in April 2006. The court filings today allege that Polling Company A was paid $20,000 for an April 2006 poll. Just a coincidence?
(Dittman later became a strategist on the campaign, although ironically he quit because, he said, Murkowski just wasn't spending enough money. "I thought the governor was being too frugal with his own funds, in my opinion, and I just didn't want to work so hard on a campaign that was underfunded when it didn't need to be," Dittman said
at the time.)
After Dittman's allegations appeared in the paper in September, Clark issued a statement
denying the charge. Well, I guess things change.
Now, apparently, it wasn't unusual for Veco to pay for polls for friendly Alaska pols. A Veco executive testified
during one of the Alaska corruption trials that Veco had paid for "upwards of 100 polls." Two pollsters, one of them Dittman, told
the Anchorage Daily News
that Veco had paid them for two different polls in 2006 for then-state Sen. Ben Stevens, son of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. The Stevens
have been caught up in the Veco investigation but not charged with any crimes.
But that still leaves the two out-of-state outfits: "Polling Company B" and "Consultant A." Who are they? When do we get to find out?