ANCHORAGE - A state senator whose ex-legislator husband was recently convicted of taking bribes while in office is herself under investigation by the Alaska Public Offices Commission, which oversees the finances of state lawmakers.
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The commission voted unanimously Friday to investigate state Sen. Lesil McGuire's 2003 consulting contract with Providence Health System.
"I think we are in an environment (where) we need to know if this consulting work really took place," commission member Roger Holl told the Anchorage Daily News.
McGuire's husband, former state Rep. Tom Anderson, a Republican who represented Anchorage, is awaiting sentencing in a conspiracy to take money he thought was coming from a private prison firm. The money was supplied by the FBI through an informant.
McGuire, R-Anchorage, had a $10,500 contract in 2003 to do consulting work for Providence.
She told an APOC investigator that her work involved research, analysis, document review and consulting to help Providence decide whether it wanted to acquire the Alaska Psychiatric Institute building.
Ray Metcalfe, a former state legislator, filed the complaint against McGuire with the commission. Metcalfe, who lost to McGuire in a 2000 race for the state House, said McGuire was unqualified for the work that she and Providence say she performed. McGuire has a law school degree, but is not a licensed attorney.
APOC's investigator Jeff Berliner told the commissioners that his research on Metcalfe's written complaint did not reveal wrongdoing by McGuire.
"It is my sincere belief she did consulting work," Berliner said.
But the commissioners said more investigation is needed and directed Berliner to make further inquiries, including reviewing internal Providence documents related to McGuire's work.
"I'm interested in whether or not there were any health care issues before the Legislature affecting Providence Hospital at that time," Holl said.
Providence is a major player in state health care and with a routine interest in bills before the Legislature.
The decision is another blow to Alaska Republicans and came as the corruption trial of former Republican state Rep. Pete Kott unfolded downtown. Former executives with oil field services company Veco Corp. have admitted bribing Kott and other Republican legislators, including using consulting contracts as a way to pay off former Senate President Ben Stevens, son of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.
Stevens is also under investigation for his connections with Allen, who testified this week that his employees worked for months to remodel Stevens' home in Girdwood. The key question is whether Stevens paid for the renovations or received a gift from Allen and VECO. The senator insists he paid from his own funds.
McGuire, an Anchorage Republican, was in Wyoming on Friday at a legislative conference. She sent a statement through the Alaska Senate majority press aide.
"She cooperated with the investigation and will continue to do so. And she wants to point out that the investigator recommended that Metcalfe's complaint be dismissed," the statement said.