Ex-U.S. attorney: Renkes may have broken conduct rules

Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2005

ANCHORAGE - Former U.S. Attorney Wev Shea told the governor in a letter that Attorney General Gregg Renkes may have broken various rules governing the professional conduct of lawyers.

Shea said in the Dec. 15 letter that Renkes' behavior in officially promoting a company he had stock in and close ties to may have violated several provisions of the Alaska Rule of Professional Conduct that lawyers must uphold.

Shea said attorneys are bound by those rules to report professional misconduct by other attorneys if it raises a substantial question as to their honesty, trustworthiness or fitness.

"Governor, regardless of the result of your special counsel's investigation, the attorney general has, I believe, violated numerous rules of professional conduct. These violations are very public. The violations must be addressed and investigated by the Alaska Bar Association," Shea wrote.

Shea cited seven provisions of rules governing lawyers that he feels Renkes may have broken. Several deal with conflict of interest.

"These are the most basic violations, and it goes to whether he's fit to practice law in the state of Alaska, and in my opinion he's not fit," Shea told the Anchorage Daily News. "It's obvious to me that his conduct is unprofessional, unethical and apparently intentional. This is not negligence."

A Murkowski spokeswoman said Monday that the governor is awaiting completion of an investigation he ordered before deciding on his next step.

Murkowski appointed Anchorage lawyer Robert Bundy, also a former U.S. attorney, as outside counsel in October to investigate Renkes' stock ownership in KFx Inc., a Denver company trying to commercialize a coal-drying technology. Renkes owned more than $100,000 worth of KFx stock as he crafted a trade agreement with Taiwan that could benefit the Denver company.

Renkes has business and personal ties to KFx's lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and once worked for KFx as a public affairs consultant and technical adviser, according to public documents.

Besides Bundy, the state personnel board is also investigating possible ethical misconduct by Renkes.

Renkes has said he didn't play a major role in promoting the KFx coal project, in the Beluga field west of Anchorage. But hundreds of documents released by the state since then show that Renkes was the chief architect of the deal.

Other than a statement he read Oct. 4 in which he defended his conduct, Renkes has not spoken about the KFx matter and vowed not to until the Bundy report is in.

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