McGuire defends husband, won't leave legislature

Posted: Sunday, December 10, 2006

JUNEAU - State Sen.-elect Lesil McGuire said Friday that her husband was innocent of the corruption charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

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Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, pleaded not guilty Friday to seven felony charges brought by a federal grand jury, including conspiracy to commit extortion, bribery and money laundering.

Federal authorities claim he worked with a lobbyist to take bribes from an undercover FBI informant and in exchange would use his influence for a corrections company in the Legislature.

"He is a good man. I've been beside him through many battles in the Legislature and have watched him. I'm devastated," McGuire told The Associated Press. "I believe in his innocence and we are just going to have to see it through."

McGuire, who has represented South Anchorage in the House since 2000, distanced herself from the allegations, however.

She said the incidents described in the indictment do not involve her own work in the Legislature and noted the alleged situation occurred before she and Anderson announced in September 2005 that they had married.

"This situation does not involve me at all," said McGuire, who did not attend her husband's arraignment Friday.

The issue of ethics in government was a staple in the general election this year in the wake of FBI raids on the offices of at least six legislators and the ethics cloud over members of the Murkowski administration.

House speaker John Harris, R-Valdez, said it would fuel a continued discussion of ethics reform in the Legislature.

While barred from lobbying for the state as a sitting legislator, Anderson was legally registered as a lobbyist with the Municipality of Anchorage.

Rep. Norm Rokeberg, who lost the Republican Senate primary to McGuire in the race for the seat being vacated by Sen. Ben Stevens, made a campaign issue of Anderson's lobbying activities for the municipality.

Rokeberg questioned the propriety of the work and said it reflected poorly on McGuire.

"Mr. Anderson's conduct speaks for itself," Rokeberg said. "I don't care to comment on it other than to say I did speak of it in my campaign this last summer."

McGuire said Anderson is no longer lobbying for the city and they agreed he would not lobby for the state either, even when it is legal for him to do so once he has been out of office for a year. She said she worried that his lobbying would lead people to question her independence.

She said he is working instead with a group called the Midtown Partnership Association, a nonprofit organization that focuses on planning for commercial interests in midtown Anchorage.

Anderson's work while he was a sitting lawmaker had been called into question before, said McGuire, and that's why he formed Pacific Publishing in 2004. That company was named in the investigation as a shell that served as a conduit for illegal payments.

McGuire said she believes the company, which is said to have published a Web site with information on state and local politics, was a legitimate enterprise.

"Pacific Publishing was an idea that would get him away from lobbying and the consulting stuff, and I think it was a great idea. They had a Web site and a bunch of people working on it," she said. "I know it was real."

McGuire said the company no longer exists.

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