Additional details about Kenai Peninsula Borough (KPB) Mayor Charlie Pierce’s abrupt resignation have been provided by KPB Attorney Sean Kelley. In an email sent today, Kelley provided a contract with the law firm Ashburn & Mason and the KPB for a confidential HR investigation.
On Friday, we published a story about how Pierce’s resignation stemmed from an investigation about his treatment of a Borough employee. Kelley’s office would not provide a comment for the story, instead sending over a prepared statement. Pierce, who is a Republican candiate for governor, or his campaign manager did not respond to calls and texts requesting comment for the story.
Peter Zuyus, who has been the spokesperson and a consultant for the Pierce/Grunwald campaign, announced today that he is leaving the campaign effective September 1.
In the email, Kelley wrote that he does not “intend to engage in further back and forth on this, and will not waive attorney-client privilege.” He also wrote that nothing regarding the results of the investigation can be released “absent a court order.”
Kelley went on to say that Pierce voluntarily resigned and there is “no settlement agreement that required or called for Mayor Pierce to resign” and “there are no signed agreements.” He then added, “I cannot comment on threatened or pending litigation, including the existence or non-existence of threatened litigation, except to say that the KPB has not been served with a publicly filed quasi-judicial administrative or judicial complaint related to any of the allegations raised in Alaska Landmine story (or any other similar news stories on this).
Here is the full text of the email:
The below has been provided to other media members and seeing your request it seemed appropriate to provide you this entire statement as well –
To address your question below, please know that I do not intend to engage in further back and forth on this, and will not waive attorney-client privilege. However it does appear that some clarification is necessary. In my role as Borough Attorney this constitutes the extent of information I can provide at this time:
I cannot comment on confidential internal investigations, except to say that there is not an ongoing investigation. In the interest of transparency, however, on July 14, 2022, the borough did engage the law firm of Ashburn & Mason to conduct a confidential, internal investigation. That investigation was completed in July. Any internal documents or memorandum prepared for the purpose of or regarding the investigation are covered by attorney-client privilege, or attorney work product doctrine, or constitutional individual privacy protections, and cannot be released absent court order. Accordingly, and to protect all borough employees’ privacy rights and participation in internal investigations, I cannot, at this time, confirm or provide any individual names concerning the investigation. It would be inappropriate on my part to infer otherwise.
Mayor Pierce voluntarily resigned. There is no settlement agreement that required or called for Mayor Pierce to resign. There is no applicable settlement agreement. There has been no monetary settlement. There are no signed agreements.
I cannot comment on threatened or pending litigation, including the existence or non-existence of threatened litigation, except to say that the KPB has not been served with a publicly filed quasi-judicial administrative or judicial complaint related to any of the allegations raised in Alaska Landmine story (or any other similar news stories on this).
Typically, we do ask that you submit a public record request for any contracts or public documents, but to save some hassle I am attaching the KPB’s contract with Ashburn & Mason.
As stated on Friday, the KPB Legal Department will release a memorandum next week regarding succession. The KPB Legal Department will not comment further on any speculation surrounding Mr. Pierce’s resignation.
This is a developing story.