"Operation Polar Pen" Winds Down with Kott, Kohring Pleas, Sentences
Now comes the post-mortem. Was more good than bad achieved? Did the miscarriages of justice outweigh the actual justice?
Said lawyer Cliff Groh, who has blogged on the corruption cases for years: "This investigation looked like some sort of a cross between a Western movie and a Greek tragedy, in terms of the conduct of some of the defendants. Later it became looking more like a Russian novel -- long, more than eights year long."
The convictions of the late Ted Stevens were overturned after he lost his re-election bid for the U.S. Senate in 2008.
One conviction -- of Jim Clark, chief of staff to former Gov. Frank Murkowski -- was overturned due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Some prominent politicians who were investigated, including Ted Stevens' son, Ben, a former state Senate president, were not indicted.
And the conduct of the federal prosecutors has itself been investigated, with the result that one, Nicholas Marsh, committed suicide.
But while some clean-up might remain in an epilogue yet to be written, the book has closed on the biggest scandal in state history.
Groh says there have been two effects from Operation Polar Pen.
One was the ethics reform legislation passed in 2007, reflecting a changed attitude at the Capitol about lawmakers' proximity to lobbyists.
The other, Groh says, is even more profound, whether for good or for bad -- the billions of dollars in additional state revenue that came from the changes in oil taxes during the special legislative session of October-November 2007 -- a session that was begun within weeks of Kott's initial conviction, and that was going on when Kohring was convicted.