Seven News Organizations Seek Bethel City Investigation Report

by Ben Matheson on May 28, 2014

Bethel Mayor Joe Klejka announced Tuesday night that the results of the investigation into nepotism, contracts, and personnel have issues been passed on the district attorney’s office. The council gave no further indication of what, if any, criminal investigation is underway.

Seven news organizations, including KYUK, are seeking the investigation report under a public records request. City Clerk Lori Strickler has denied the request, citing attorney-client privilege. The group appealed that denial to the council Tuesday night.

John McKay is an attorney representing the media groups.

“What you have to do now, I would argue, is to do the right thing for the community. Part of that is giving them full access to the information. So you bring everyone along, whether they agree or disagree with you, but they have confidence that the process is fair and supportful,” said McKay.

McKay told the council that Alaska law does not prevent disclosure of a document involved a criminal investigation, if it is originally a matter of public record.

The council asked questions about the supreme court cases McKay cited and how other cases involving personnel have been made public, but otherwise did not speak about the investigation. The mayor started the hearing by telling council members that they shouldn’t make any statements expressing their opinion.

The council did not act on the appeal Tuesday. Major Klejka said they will decide within two weeks.

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