Former Alaska State Representative Pete Kott (pictured at left courtesy of Akrepublicans.org), indicted for his alleged role in the growing VECO scandal also involving Tom Anderson, Bruce Weyhrauch, and Vic Kohring, has also been identified by his ex-wife as being a "deadbeat dad", according to a story published in the Alaska Star on May 10th, 2007. The Alaska Star is a suburban newspaper serving the 30,000+ residents of the suburban Chugiak-Eagle River community just north of Anchorage.
Click HERE to view original article.
Nancy Cripps was not surprised to find out about Pete Kott's indictment and arrest in the growing VECO political scandal. Cripps was married to Pete Kott from January 1968 until September 1970. However, she soon concluded, particularly after she became pregnant, that she and Kott were ill-matched. In a December 6th, 2006 e-mail sent to the Alaska Star, Cripps wrote, “I eventually realized the combination of our personalities would be deadly for me. I was naive, honest, too trusting, forthcoming and, unfortunately, one with very low self-esteem. He was savvy, deceitful and narcissistic. Not only did I believe all his promises, I was willing to give up my own dreams for a higher education to help him achieve all his goals.” She also characterized Kott as “lying, deceitful and only looking out for himself”.
She further explained that out of fear for the well-being of the child she was expecting, she, merely 17 years old at the time, left Kott, who was 18, in the middle of the night with only a bus ticket for California and $25 in her pocket. “That's when I filed for divorce,” she said. “Pete went off in the military, and I set out on my life as a single mother.”
According to the divorce records, Kott was ordered to pay child support and all medical expenses for his daughter while he was enlisted in the Air Force, which Cripps claimed he never did. Yet by her own admission, she apparently never pressed the authorities to follow up, despite the fact that, even back at that time, the Air Force took a dim view of officers and airmen who failed to meet such obligations, and would subject scofflaws to a wide range of sanctions, including less-than-honorable discharge. “I didn't think of Pete for over 20 years,” she said. “I didn't even know he was living in Alaska. I only found that out because my daughter had skin cancer, and we wanted to know the medical history for his family".
However, in the course of tracking down Kott, she found out in 2004 that not only was Kott living in Alaska, but that he was a member of the Alaska State House and the sponsor of a bill that would make failure to pay child support a felony. That bill, HB 514, along with a companion bill, HB 513, which closed a loophole in the driver's license suspension program for child support scofflaws, was eventually signed into law by then-Governor Frank Murkowski in September 2004. Apparently she was outraged by the hypocrisy of a "deadbeat dad" sponsoring anti-deadbeat dad legislation.
Cripps said she was not motivated by revenge for bringing her past with Kott to light, instead, she simply wanted to see the truth come out and justice served. Attempts to reach Pete Kott for comment were unsuccessful.
In the same edition, the Alaska Star also recorded community reaction to Pete Kott's legal troubles. News of the indictment surprised Bob Gill, president of the South Fork Community Council. “I like Pete,” he said. “And it's disheartening to hear that he is apparently involved in this. It's very disappointing and disheartening to hear that VECO had the degree of influence they did over our elected officials. It appears the feds had a strong case, but the civil libertarian in me says we must remember that everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” he concluded.
Gill was also surprised by how cheaply the lawmakers "sold themselves" to VECO. “If what I read in the indictment is true, they sold their souls for a pittance,” Gill said.
This same theme was echoed by longtime Eagle River resident Bill Erickson. “My trust is worth more than $1,000,” he said. “If he's guilty, then he's betrayed the trust of the people who put him in office and deserves more than the maximum punishment allowed for his actions. Democracy is worth more than a couple thousand dollars, and anyone who is willing to sell it deserves to be punished.”
Chugiak Rep. Bill Stoltze focused on the impact the indictment will have on the history and reputation of local legislatures. “I've always been proud of our local public servants,” Stoltze said. “We've had some really good people and great people over the years representing our community, and I've tried to emulate them in my service. It's disappointing to see us have a deviation from that proud tradition.”
Rep. Anna Fairclough, who defeated Kott in the August 2006 Republican primary, was taken aback by the news. “I was stunned to learn of the arrests,” she said. “I hope that if there was inappropriate action that the people will be held accountable. But my heart also goes out to his family, who's dealing with the speculation as well. I hope justice can be reached quickly for them and the community.”
However, the arrest came as no surprise to Daryl Painter of Eagle River. “He's a politician,” Painter said. “There's not a bit of legislation or law that is passed without somebody being paid off. I'm more surprised with how little it cost to buy his vote than I am that he got caught.”
Pete Kott and Bruce Weyhrauch are listed together on the same indictment. Click HERE to view the 27-page indictment in PDF format. Here are the four specific counts applicable to Kott:
Count 1: Conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, bribery, and honest services mail and wire fraud.
Count 2: Interference with commerce by extortion induced under color of official right.
Count 4: Bribery concerning programs receiving Federal funds.
Count 6: Honest services wire fraud.
A May 5th story in the Anchorage Daily News attempts to translate this into everyday English. According to ADN, Kott appeared in court on charges of bribery, extortion and conspiracy, which, upon conviction, could result in anywhere from 5-20 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine, and pled not guilty. Here is the pertinent excerpt from the article:
Kott, 57, the House speaker in 2003 and 2004, represented Eagle River from 1992 until his defeat in the Republican primary last year... His role in the alleged conspiracy began earlier than Kohring’s. On September 26th, 2005, Kott called Smith [Rick Smith of VECO] and said, “I need a job.”
Smith’s reply: “You’ve got a job; get us a pipeline.”
A few minutes later, Kott, apparently aware that a VECO subsidiary was building a prison in Barbados, told Smith, “I just want to be the warden in Barbados.”
In February , Allen [Bill Allen of VECO] and Smith discussed their influence over Kott in what they apparently believed was a private conversation. “We got more money in Pete Kott than he can even think about it,” Allen said.
In March , Kott reported to Allen and Smith in the Baranof that he was putting the squeeze on another legislator by blocking that legislator’s bill until he supported Veco’s version of the oil tax measure. Kott said he wouldn’t release the “hold” until Allen said it was OK.
In May , Kott told Allen in Suite 604 that he succeeded in defeating a tax amendment Allen opposed. “I had to get ’er done,” Kott was quoted as saying. “I had to cheat, steal, beg, borrow and lie.” Allen’s response to Kott: “I own your ass.”
On June 1 , Allen handed Kott $1,000 in cash. Kott said he wanted to become a lobbyist after leaving the Legislature. “Well, you will be,” Allen said.
The indictment also said that Veco paid a “fraudulently inflated” invoice of $7,993 to Kott’s flooring company in August. Kott’s attorney, Jim Wendt of Anchorage, said Kott “didn’t really break any law” and would fight the charges.
Bill Allen, the former CEO of VECO, and Rick Smith, who was VECO's Vice-President for Government Affairs, were also indicted. On May 7th, they pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy.