By PAT FORGEY
Former Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, is asking a federal judge to exclude his financial records and those of his wife, Sen. Lesil McGuire, from evidence at his federal corruption trial.
Jury selection began Monday in Anchorage.
The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Public Integrity maintains that the records show Anderson was living beyond his means. It alleges that the documents may show a motive for him to accept bribes.
Anderson was serving as a member of the Alaska Legislature last December when he was indicted on seven felony counts by federal prosecutors.
They accuse him of taking bribes through a front company created in 2004 to hide transactions from the Alaska Public Offices Commission.
Among their exhibits, prosecutors want to submit credit reports, bank statements and other documents detailing Anderson's financial situation.
Pleading poverty, without other evidence, is not enough to show a motive for bribery. Debt can indicate such evidence, however, according to court filings Monday by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas March, of the Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C., and Joseph Bottini of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage.
The prosecutors said that lobbyist Bill Bobrick discussed Anderson with a representative of Cornell Industries, a private prison company with business interests in Alaska.
They discussed which legislators might be willing to accept bribes, and Bobrick described Anderson as a good candidate, according to prosecutors.
"Let me put it this way. If I was a Soviet spy and I was looking for a legislator to recruit ... he'd be the one I'd get," Bobrick said in a surreptitiously taped conversation filed with the court.
"But when I say that ... what I mean is he needs the money," Bobrick continued on the tape.
Bobrick pleaded guilty to bribery charges last month and is expected to be a witness in Anderson's trial.
Prosecutors say the documents they've asked to introduce as evidence show a need for money.
"Mr. Anderson had a significant debt load, and the payments that Mr. Anderson received from the charged conduct amounted to more than one-quarter of Mr. Anderson's adjusted gross income for the calendar year 2004," prosecutors said of the Monday court filings.
Anderson attorney Paul Stockler of Anchorage responded that many of the prosecution documents were irrelevant.
One was a credit card application revealing that Anderson and his new wife, McGuire, opened an account together in January 2006.
Stockler pointed out that was more than a year after the alleged criminal acts took place.
"These documents have no tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable," Stockler wrote.
Anderson also objected to introducing years worth of monthly credit card receipts as evidence.
Stockler said they had "minuscule" relevance, which was far outweighed by the danger of creating unfair prejudice and confusion of issues.
Federal District Judge John Roberts has yet to rule on the motions.
Anderson, 39, is one of four current or former Alaska lawmakers indicted by federal authorities and the first to go to trial.
The Anchorage Republican was elected to the House in 2002 and 2004 and chose not to run in 2006.
On Dec. 7, while still holding office, Anderson was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery, two counts of interfering with commerce - charges connected with a demand for payments - and three counts of money laundering.
Contact Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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