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Kohring rejects calls to step down

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2007

State Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, Tuesday rejected calls for his resignation from Gov. Sarah Palin and some Democratic legislators.

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Palin made her comments in an interview with KTUU-TV and likened Kohring's case to that of former University of Alaska Regent Joe Hayes, whom she asked to resign for the good of the university system.

"While I respect the governor and can appreciate her saying that she needs to be consistent in her opinions, the circumstances of the two cases are very different," he said.

Palin told KTUU that Kohring should resign for the same reason: "to remove the cloud that is over the bodies in which they are serving."

Kohring was chairman of the House's Special Committee on Oil and Gas when he was indicted Friday on multiple counts of bribery and extortion. Federal prosecutors allege that he took cash payments from officials with oilfield services company VECO Corp. in exchange for supporting legislation to benefit the company.

Two VECO executives, including its CEO and founder, have pleaded guilty to bribery charges in connection with the accusations.

House leaders removed Kohring from his committee chairmanship, but Democrats, calling for reconsideration of the Petroleum Profits Tax enacted last year, said Kohring should resign, or at least pledge not to participate in discussions of oil issues.

Kohring has pleaded not guilty, and Tuesday he said he would continue to serve his district.

"I do not believe I would serve the best interest of my constituents by walking away at this time," he said.

Palin, a Wasilla resident, is one of Kohring's constituents.

Also Tuesday, Palin removed VECO CEO Bill Allen from his seat on the Alberta-Alaska Bilateral Council. That council works to facilitate issues such as a proposed natural gas pipeline that would run to the big gas pipeline hub in the Canadian province.

"It is inappropriate to have Allen serving the state in any capacity," she said.



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