Vic Kohring is back. And he thinks he’s a phoenix.
Back in October, the disgraced former state legislator penned an editorial for the Alaska Dispatch:
A phoenix, of course, is a symbol of rebirth and renewal and can symbolize someone “rising from the ashes.” I was struck by this analogy as it never occurred to me. I’ve seen myself as having hit rock bottom and in survival mode since the horrific days when the government railroaded me into a loss at trial. Then it was the U.S. Marshals hauling me off to prison in shackles.
Alaska’s self-identifying super-bird was indicted on federal bribery and extortion charges for his involvement with Bill Allen and VECO the last time our legislature attempted to transfer ownership of state to Big Oil.
A taped 2006 conversation inside Suite 604 at the Baranoff Hotel highlighted the antics going on between Mr. Phoenix and Bill Allen (Prewitt, 2008).
“Bill, uh, Mr. Allen, up on the hill they’re pullin’ me ten thousand different directions. I’m bushed, and I’m only here cause I got a personal financial matter that could hurt me politically.”
Allen replied, “Yeah? What’s up, Vic?”
Kohring said, “I owe seventeen thousand dollars on a credit card that’s in collection; they’re pushin’ me real hard and I don’t have the money. I thought maybe you could cover me with a loan, or some work, or somethin’ until…”
[VECO Vice President] Rick Smith butted in, “Seventeen thousand dollars! Well yer gonna have ta keep yer mouth shut and not talk about it to anyone, especially APOC [Alaska Public Offices Commission]. We don’t need any red flags wavin’ over us.”
Kohring resigned after seven terms in the state house and was convicted on three criminal charges. An appeals court later vacated those charges. In 2011, facing another trial, the Wasilla Republican opted to incur a five digit-fine in lieu of further jail time and pled guilty.”
The full $17,000 was never doled out, but Kohring did confess to asking for it. He took somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000 from the oil tycoon while the legislature debated oil tax legislation. So, the “hauling off in shackles” thing probably wasn’t completely out of the blue…
But at the end of last month, he announced his intentions to run for city council in Wasilla. Last week, he took to Channel 13’s “Alaska Political Insider,” to plead his case.
The interview was rich in mansplaining, while void of any admission of wrongdoing or culpability for Kohring’s own actions.
Kohring faced multiple attempts from show host, Dorene Lorenz, to address his past offenses. Most notably, when Lorenz asked: “What is it about your life that, looking back, you most regret?”
Great opportunity. Well played, Lorenz.
The question was posed in a way where Kohring could apply his own editorial brush; apologetically explain his long, hard crawl back from a vast wasteland of shame to his new humble position: the little guy, asking for a second chance. Contrite, remorseful, sympathetic. It’s the kind of speech Frank Luntz dreams about writing. Keep your hands in your pockets and channel your inner-Weiner.
Kohring cued up to the camera. “Hmm,” he exclaimed and took a deep, reflective breath, before announcing to the world, with a straight face:
“Well, I would say not studying hard enough in high school.”
They continued on to talk about his high school athletic accomplishments.
The media attention surrounding Kohring has spiked in the past week, subsequent to his candidacy for city council. Given that city council seats don’t generally garner much attention, this probably has come as a bit of a surprise to the seat’s current holder, incumbent Brandon Wall.
The attention is because of Kohring’s celebrity. Kohring’s celebrity is because a federal jury found him guilty on three charges of bribery. He is a disgraced politician. We’d be best served remembering that.
In his October Dispatch editorial, Kohring addressed running for office, saying that his plate was full in between caring for family and writing a book. “I’ve never been the politically ambitious type and had to be pushed by friends into running for the Alaska Legislature during my first campaign in 1994. I’ll leave it up to God to guide me and see what doors are opened.”
Nine months later, he seems to be kicking through another door without expressing any regret for the last one he was booted out of. That’s a joke. If we’re going to roll cameras and hold the microphones out for him, we should treat him less like the honorable statesman returning home, and more like a washed up reality show contestant looking for another way back into the show.