October 9, 2007 - The news just keeps getting worse for former Alaska State Representative Pete Kott.
After being recently convicted on corruption charges in large part based on his own phone conversations, Kott is now being accused of phone tapping during a bitter dispute over child custody involving his ex-girlfriend and her ex-husband.
Rand Bigelow of Sitka is accusing Kott of inappropriately recording conversations of him and his daughter, and then using those tapes in the ugly custody dispute in which child visitation rights were on the line.
For some context, Bigelow was married to Juneau resident Debora Stovern in the mid-nineties. Stovern and Kott dated during the divorce, and were a couple for a number of years.
Bigelow has said that Kott turned over the tapes, which featured him cussing while talking to his daughter, to a state official that was ultimately appointed by the Alaskan Office of Public Advocacy to recommend that he wouldn't be allowed to see his daughter.
While admitting that he didn't use the best language in the tapes, Bigelow said in a Juneau Empire story that the tapes ultimately ruined his attempts to maintain a relationship with his daughter, who is now 14 years old. Bigelow also charged that any person who had received those tapes should have had the proper judgment to turn them into local authorities for a possible criminal investigation into illegal phone tapping.
Ultimately, Bigelow said that the 14 hours of taped conversations and his lack of a divorce lawyer did him in during the custody dispute with his wife. Bigelow has now hired an Alaskan divorce lawyer and is once again seeking visitation with his daughter.
As for Kott, he was found guilty on September 25th of conspiracy to solicit financial benefits, extortion and bribery. The former Representative from Eagle River was acquitted of wire tapping.
Amazingly, Kott's last year in office included his sponsored legislation that not only legalized parents taping their children's phone calls but also determined when such evidence gained from phone calls could be used in child custody proceedings. If this interesting bit of information doesn't smack of a conflict of interest, what does? Ironically, this bill was the only one that Kott passed during the 2005-2006 Legislature.
Even State Representative Beth Kertula (D-Juneau) expressed her concern over the legislation in the Juneau Empire story. Kertula said that she did not know of Kott's alleged phone tapping involvement when voting in favor of his parental phone recording bill, which she did stay still had merit.
As for Bigelow, he further detailed that Judge Larry Weeks, the man who denied him visitation rights with his daughter, did not buy his story that the Kott and Stovern household included heavy alcohol use. The recent federal trial detailed Kott engaging in drunken conversations with his conspirators and also included testimony from a Kott staffer who said she was so concerned about his drinking that she seriously thought of an intervention.
Weeks, who is now retired, and attorney Janine Reep, who supervises Alaska's Advocates for Children in Court Cases, did not return phone calls seeking comment on the custody and visitation decision during the ugly Bigelow-Stovern divorce!