Thursday, March 18, 2010

Updated Biography, Plus Even More Disclosures


In preparing for my Polaris Lecture at the University of Alaska Anchorage tonight, I have tweaked my bio and expanded my disclosures of various interests and relationships with various defendants, suspects, and lawyers involved in the investigations and trials covered by this blog. You can read all that below, and you can come see me talk tonight at 7:30 p.m. at UAA’s nifty new ConocoPhillips Integrated Sciences Building (the one with the planetarium) in Room 120.

Biography of Cliff Groh

Cliff Groh is a lifelong Alaskan who has been a lawyer for more than 20 years. He is now a writer and attorney in Anchorage. Formerly a prosecutor, Groh has represented some criminal defendants in his private law practice.

Groh has been doing research for a book on the Alaska public corruption scandals uncovered by the current federal investigations and the resulting trials. To that end, he has observed most of the trials of former state legislators Pete Kott and Vic Kohring in Anchorage and all of the trial of then-U.S. Senator Ted Stevens in Washington, D.C. He has taught two classes on Alaska public corruption through the Opportunities for Lifelong Education (OLE) program. He maintains a blog on the Alaska public corruption scandals at on the Internet.

Groh served as the Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Revenue from 1987 through 1990. In that capacity, he served essentially as the State of Alaska's tax lobbyist in the successful effort in 1989 to revise the state's oil taxes in a way that increased revenues from the giant Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk fields. The legislation adopted in 1989 created a regime for oil taxes that lasted until the Alaska Legislature adopted the Petroleum Profits Tax in 2006.

Groh was also the principal legislative staff member working on Permanent Fund Dividend legislation in 1982. That legislation produced the per capita Permanent Fund Dividend Alaska has today.

Groh worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Anchorage and in rural Alaska communities such as St. Paul, Unalaska, and Sand Point. He has handled approximately 30 jury trials as a prosecutor. He has also served as in-house and outside counsel for municipal governments in Alaska. He served as a delegate to the Conference of Alaskans in 2004.

When Groh was first out of college in the late 1970s, he worked as a reporter with a statewide newspaper called the Alaska Advocate. He has also published historical articles on topics ranging from the Permanent Fund Dividend to the history of journalistic coverage of the capital move campaigns.

Groh is a graduate of Harvard College, where his senior honors thesis was on the history of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA). His law degree is from the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall).

Disclosures of Potentially Relevant
Interests and Relationships

Groh’s work in government has included service in both partisan and non-partisan positions. Groh has worked for Democrats while serving in partisan positions in the Alaska State Legislature and the Alaska Department of Revenue. He is a registered Democrat who was a delegate to the 1988 Alaska Democratic Convention.

Groh socialized with Bruce Weyhrauch during periods in the 1980s and early 1990s when both lived in Juneau, and Groh had some social contacts with Weyhrauch afterwards. While serving as City and Borough Attorney for the City and Borough of Sitka, Groh arranged in 2002 or 2003 for Weyhrauch to act as counsel for the City and Borough in a case where Groh had a conflict of interest.

Groh has known Ted Stevens all of Groh's life, and Groh's father—who passed away in 1998—was a close friend and political ally of Ted Stevens. Groh lived in a dormitory in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1975 with interns of Stevens' Senate office while researching a college senior honors thesis on the history of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, and Ted Stevens apparently made the arrangements for Groh to live in that dormitory. Groh sometimes used space in Ted Stevens' Senate office during the summer of 1975 while researching his thesis, and Groh both interviewed and had some social contacts with Stevens that summer.

Groh’s mother was a close friend of Ted Stevens’ first wife Ann Stevens, who died in an airplane crash in 1978. Ted Stevens and his Senate staff worked to arrange for additional medical care for both of Groh’s parents when they were stricken with cancer in the 1990s.

At various points over the years, Groh met and spoke with Jim Clark, Bill Weimar, and Pete Kott about various matters. Groh also exchanged e-mail messages with Vic Kohring about fiscal policy. Groh has interviewed Don Young in the 1970s, and as a child he may have played with Ben Stevens.

In the 1980s, Groh’s father served as VECO’s lawyer in defending the corporation against an enforcement action brought by the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) regarding VECO’s campaign contributions. One or both of Groh’s parents also had some business dealings with Bill Allen in the 1980s. In an apparent attempt to interest Bill Allen in buying real estate, Groh’s father reportedly took Allen to a subdivision in rural Alaska owned by a corporation controlled by Groh’s father. Neither Allen nor VECO purchased any property at the subdivision. Given the limited number of sleeping spaces available in the area at the time, however, that visit by Bill Allen probably means that Groh has slept in a bed that Bill Allen once slept in.

Groh has also worked and/or socialized with a number of the Anchorage lawyers who have worked on matters associated with the “POLAR PEN” probe into public corruption in Alaska. Some of those attorneys are or have been prosecutors on those matters, and some of those attorneys have served as defense counsel on those matters.


Melissa S. Green said...

I unfortunately can't make it tonight (but I'm letting other peole know about it) -- does UAA record Polaris lectures?

Yusef Asabiyah said...
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