Anchorage probes port director's e-mails to Stevens

Posted: Tuesday, April 08, 2008

ANCHORAGE - The city of Anchorage is investigating whether former Gov. Bill Sheffield violated municipal ethics codes by using his government e-mail account to communicate about campaign fundraising with U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.

Mayor Mark Begich, a Democrat who is exploring a run against Stevens, said the matter has been referred to the city's senior ethics officer, who will investigate.

The e-mails between Sheffield, the city's port director, and Stevens were released Monday by the Alaska Public Interest Research Group, a public advocacy agency.

AKPIRG says e-mails it obtained through a Public Records request show Sheffield planning fundraising activities while at work, using his municipal e-mail account.

Stevens released a statement Monday saying that he was using a Blackberry and cell phone account paid for by his campaign committee, and an e-mail account designated for campaign use.

"We are very careful that no official resources are used for campaign purposes," Stevens said. "There was no misuse of federal resources in this situation."

The e-mail conversation took place 18 months ago.

In one, dated Nov. 28, 2006, Sheffield wrote Stevens: "Received your letter regarding request for early money. Will gather up a few checks and hold a FR at my house as well. Have someone call me with the dates and so forth."

Stevens, the longest serving Republican in Senate history, replied later that day. "Look forward to seeing you-and we will gladly accept your help, my friend. This will be a tough election if the war isn't over abd (sic) that doesn't look too good right now! See you soon. Best. T," he wrote.

"The municipal code clearly states that you can't use public resources and public time to raise money for partisan campaign activity, or conduct political activity of any kind. That's not why they're in those jobs, and they just simply shouldn't be doing it," AKPIRG Director Steve Cleary said.

Calls to Sheffield were not immediately returned Monday.

The group has requested any additional campaign-related correspondence between Sheffield and members of the Alaska congressional delegation dating back to 2002.

Begich said the port is working to comply with AKPIRG's public records request.

"Like any other city employee, Governor Sheffield deserves a full review of this allegation and due process under the city ethics code," Begich said in a prepared statement.

Sheffield has been port director since 2001. He was appointed by former Mayor George Wuerch.

Sheffield was Alaska's sixth governor, serving from 1982-1986.

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