JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A former state lawmaker who pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge in 2011 is running for Wasilla City Council.
Wasilla City Clerk Kristie Smithers confirmed Monday that Vic Kohring is eligible to run for the seat currently held by Brandon Wall in the Oct. 1 election. Smithers' office said to be eligible, a candidate must be registered to vote and must have been a community resident for the past year. Smithers said Kohring meets those requirements.
Kohring has been an eligible voter in Alaska since his re-registration date of April 30, state Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said in an email.
Kohring was convicted on corruption charges in 2007 after being caught in a wide-ranging investigation that also ensnared then-U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. Prosecutors won several convictions related to the investigation but questions were raised about the government's handling of cases after Stevens' 2008 conviction.
A judge later overturned Stevens' conviction, finding that prosecutors had withheld evidence. An appeals court made similar findings in 2011 in the cases of Kohring and Pete Kott, another former legislator.
New trials were ordered for Kott and Kohring but they instead reached plea agreements under which each was sentenced to time served, with a period of supervised release. Kott was fined $10,000 but prosecutors at the time said Kohring didn't have the financial resources to pay a fine.
The charges against them stemmed from maneuverings surrounding a 2006 oil tax vote in the state Legislature. Kohring pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs that receive federal funds. He acknowledged taking $1,000 from Bill Allen, then-CEO of an oil services company, and asking for and receiving $17,000 from Allen for personal credit card debt.
Kohring told The Associated Press on Monday that he made a mistake in accepting "gifts from friends" and regrets it. But he said he didn't think it warranted the "full-court press" that the government put on him.
"It was a lapse in judgment on my part after maintaining high ethical standards throughout my many years in office," he said in a statement announcing his plans on Friday. "I paid a very steep price and it changed my life forever."
He said his elderly parents, for whom he cares, weighed heavily on his decision to enter a plea rather than take a risk with a new trial.
In his statement, he apologized to his former constituents and asked for a second chance to serve them, "as I work hard to earn their trust." He said his "awful legal saga" had made him a stronger person and brought him closer to God and family.
Kohring told AP he feels some anxiety in stepping out as a candidate again, "because I don't know what's going to happen out there." But he said he feels like public service is his calling and has gotten a good response from residents he's met with so far.
He said Wasilla has had an efficiently run city government in recent years and he would like to contribute to that. He also would like to put an emphasis on good roads and infrastructure development.