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Supreme Court's Jeffrey Skilling ruling helps former Alaska official, too

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in three cases involving fraud under the federal honest services law. Ex-Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, newspaper magnate Conrad Black, and former Alaska state Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch are all likely to benefit.

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The US Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of a former Alaska state representative who was accused of committing a federal fraud because he did not disclose that he was seeking employment from a company with an interest in a tax law bill pending before the state legislature.

US prosecutors charged that Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch violated the federal honest services fraud statute by voting on the tax law while concealing his ongoing efforts to receive a job at the company.

Weyhrauch’s lawyers argued that there is no law in Alaska requiring job applicants to disclose prospective employment discussions. While he may not have been forthright and transparent about his attempt to get a job once his legislative term ended, they say, he had no duty to disclose what prosecutors called a conflict of interest.

Prosecutors said it didn’t matter that no state law was violated. Public officials have an inherent fiduciary responsibility to act in the public interest and to disclose any conflict of interest, they said.

The decision stems from a corruption investigation into the activities of VECO, an oil field services company with links to several lawmakers. Serving in the state legislature is a part-time job in Alaska. Weyhrauch was also a lawyer.

In 2006, after deciding he would not seek reelection, Weyhrauch sent a letter and his résumé to VECO officials, inquiring about the possibility of doing legal work for the company after he left public office. The letter was sent five days before the end of the legislative session.

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