Ogan recall group submits petitions to elections officials

'Ogan Is So Gone' group contends legislator 'demonstrated corruption'

Posted: Tuesday, August 03, 2004

ANCHORAGE - A citizens group submitted signatures Monday to the Division of Elections in its effort to recall Republican state Sen. Scott Ogan.

"We're excited about this ... to get it to the ballot where people have a chance to vote," said Bill Marks, who helped deliver the signatures Monday afternoon to elections headquarters.

The group, formally called Ogan Is So Gone Recall Committee, is unhappy over Ogan's former employment as a consultant for Evergreen Resources, a Colorado-based company exploring coal bed methane in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

The group's petition contends Ogan "demonstrated corruption in office by actively promoting legislation, directly benefiting business interests of his employer Evergreen Resources," and in doing so knew that "it would deprive his Mat-Su Valley constituents of actual notice of leases."

Legislative aide Nikki Campbell said Ogan would not comment on the recall drive until later in the week.

Ogan Is So Gone Recall Committee said Ogan sponsored legislation that allowed 230,000 acres of state-held subsurface gas rights to be leased across the Mat-Su without consent from landowners.

Committee members delivered over 4,300 signatures as the result of the state-certified petition drive - 1,000 more than required.

"Nearly half the number of those who voted for Ogan two years ago signed the petition," said Marks, a Willow resident and a recall organizer.

Ogan, of Palmer, who was paid $40,000 a year for his consulting services, resigned from Denver-based Evergreen in October. He said the controversy generated by his being both a consultant and a state senator made it impossible to do either.

Evergreen holds nearly 300,000 acres of gas leases in the Mat-Su. It announced in June that it was abandoning gas leases on more than 4,000 acres around Lazy Mountain because the area did not look promising for coal bed methane development.

The group was required to collect 3,183 signatures from voters in District H. The number is equal to 25 percent of those who voted in the last election. The Elections Division has 30 days to certify the signatures.

If enough signatures are certified, the recall election will be held at the same time as the Nov. 2 general election. Ogan's term ends in January 2007. He served four terms in the House before being elected to the Senate in 2002.

"There was lots of support for the recall, even on Lazy Mountain where Ogan lives," said John Vinduska, one of Ogan's neighbors on Lazy Mountain and a recall sponsor.

If Ogan is recalled, his replacement probably would be appointed by Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski, and not by voters in the district because the vacancy will have occurred with less than two years, five months left in the term. When that occurs, state law requires the governor to choose a replacement.

Ogan's district includes Chugiak, Peters Creek, Butte, Lazy Mountain, Fairview Loop, Knik-Goose Bay, Big Lake, Houston, Willow, Talkeetna and Trapper Creek.

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