Lawmaker chides father's former aide

Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2008

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski didn't hide her disappointment with Jim Clark, who served as her father's top aide when Frank Murkowski was governor.

Clark, who earlier this month pleaded guilty to fraud in federal court, had her father's trust as chief of staff for four years and decades before that as a friend.

But that changed, the senator said, when Clark pleaded guilty to a violation of campaign finance laws in the guise of trying to help her father.

"I'm angry; I'm upset," Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said. "Jim broke the public trust, and that was wrong."

Clark hid from state election regulators more than $68,000 in polls and consultants' fees he secured from the oil field services company VECO Corp. for Frank Murkowski's failed gubernatorial re-election bid two years ago.

Murkowski said she spoke to her father about Clark's plea and that he, too, was "deeply disappointed."

"This was a man he's known for years and trusted," Murkowski said. "(Clark) let him down, he let the state down in a very, very big way."

Clark was the latest public figure to plead guilty in a federal investigation of ties between VECO executives and Alaska politicians.

Frank Murkowski has not been implicated, and Clark said he acted on his own.

"I'm just hopeful that we as a state, and certainly this legislative body, can move beyond what we've seen these past months, this past year," Lisa Murkowski after addressing the Alaska Legislature.

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