Harris expects Kohring to resign

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2007

House Speaker John Harris said Tuesday he expects am embattled lawmaker facing federal extortion and bribery charges to resign.

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Harris, who joined Majority Leader Ralph Samuels for an hour-long meeting with state Rep. Vic Kohring on Tuesday in Anchorage, said he expects Kohring will announce his resignation next week.

"He didn't fully say he was going to, but the gist I got out of the meeting is that he is going to resign," Harris said. "He is still trying to work his way through all of this."

"There was no pressure involved," said Kohring, a Republican. "I just simply went there on my terms and gave them an update."

He earlier announced that he would announce at a chamber luncheon in Wasilla on June 19 whether he planned to remain in office or resign.

Kohring, along with former Republican House Reps. Pete Kott, formerly of Eagle River and now of Juneau, and Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau have all been charged with bribery and extortion.

All three have pleaded not guilty and have had their original July trial dates pushed back to the fall. Not long after he was charged, Gov. Sarah Palin, also of Wasilla, said she believed Kohring should step down.

Tuesday's meeting with the Republican leaders was the second for Kohring. The first came after the end of the legislative session last month.

Kohring has repeatedly asked the public, legislators and Palin to presume he is innocent and to allow him to do a job he's held since 1994.

In an opinion piece published Tuesday in the Anchorage Daily News, Kohring asked his Matanuska-Susitna Borough constituents tell him whether he should continuing serving.

"The issue is actually very simple," he wrote. "Can I or can I not adequately represent you while I wait for these charges to be resolved at trial?"

In the letter, he reiterated his concern about being prejudged and implored those with an opinion of guilt to withhold judgment.

"To those who believe the charges without all the facts, I ask you to please reconsider with cooler heads," he wrote. "I actually look forward to the day when I can defend myself and get this over with."

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