Murkowski says she's giving up Kenai land to end ethics controversy

Senator Lisa Murkowski is trying to put a stop to the political flak she has gotten for buying Kenai riverfront property from family friend Bob Penney at a price critics say was well below fair market value. Today, Murkowski said she and husband Verne Martell are giving up the land — at a loss.Murkowski has been under fire since the political blog TPM Muckraker published a story about the land deal last week. She believes she paid a fair price for the property, but said it isn’t worth the criticism leveled at her and others since then.

Yesterday a government watchdog group filed a complaint about Murkowski’s land deal with the Senate Ethics Committee. She says she’s not sure what will happen with that, but is prepared to cooperate with any Ethics Committee inquiries.

Based on a Kenai borough assessment from last year, Murkowski and her husband paid Bob Penney $179,400 for the 1.27-acre tract. But since the sale, the land has been reassessed at nearly $215,000. Nearby Soldtna real estate brokers have said the price Murkowski and Martell paid for the land seemed low compared to similar tracts in the area.

Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, D.C.

This is a mid-day news update. For the complete story, tune in to Alaska News Nightly this evening on local APRN stations statewide.