Monthly Archives: September 2013

Quote of the day

“The conservative war on food stamps is the most baffling political move of the year. Conservatives have suffered for years from the stereotype that they are heartless Scrooge McDucks more concerned with our money than other people’s lives. Yet in this case, conservatives make the taking of food from the mouths of the genuinely hungry a top priority…Why are conservatives overlooking a far more egregious abuse of taxpayer dollars in the farm bill?”

Henry Olsen on crop insurance in the National Review. Crop insurance costs taxpayers more than $8.6 billion a year and goes mostly to farmers making over $250,000.


Romney’s money-tree shaker signs on with Treadwell

11196328_mLt. Gov. Mead Treadwell has hired the high-powered D.C.–based Republican fundraiser Lisa Spies to help open up pockets. She has already organized at least nine national fundraisers for him through Nov. 5.

Most recently, Spies was the Director of Women for Romney Victory where, according to her website, she led the effort to raise over $23 million. She also served as the Director of Jewish Outreach for the Romney for President campaign.

Her husband Charlie Spies founded the Restore Our Future super PAC, which raised $153 million throughout the 2012 election cycle. It’s been rumored that he is forming a super PAC for Treadwell.

FEC rules dictate that anyone officially part of the campaign, including the candidate, cannot communicate about the campaign with those who are involved with super PACs.

Treadwell is running in the U.S. Senate Republican primary. So far, Joe Miller is the only other declared candidate. Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan is expected to enter the race and is expected to announce soon after his resignation from that job on Tuesday.

Sullivan will have some catching up to do. Below is a list of Treadwell fundraisers that Lisa Spies has organized.

September 25th
North Dakota
Reception: Captain Freddy’s Riverside Restaurant & Bar in Mandan, North Dakota. Hosted by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley.

September 26th
Seattle, Washington
Luncheon at the Washington Athletic Club. Hosted by Senator Slade Gorton, The Hon. Rob McKenna, The Hon. George Nethercutt, The Hon. Sam Reed, Chris Bayley, Svend Brandt-Erichsen, Brent Paine, John Stanton, Alan Walker, and Rob Wurm.

September 29th
Lana’I, Hawaii
Reception at the Four Seasons Hotel

October 2nd
Honolulu, Hawaii
Reception at the home of Candes Meijide Gentry and Steve Shropshire. Hosted by Congressman Charles Djou, State House Leader Aaron Ling Johanson, State House Floor Leader Beth Fukumoto Chang, and Hawaii GOP Chair David Chang

November 5th
Denver, Colorado
Reception at the Cherry Hills Country Club

Fundraisers have also been set for Oct. 9, and Oct. 10 in California. Also Oct. 28, and Oct. 29 in D.C. Details are still being worked out for these.

Contact Amanda Coyne at 


Politico piece longs for the days of Ted Stevens

Ted StevensA piece in Politico about the fight over the government shut-down waxes nostalgic for the good old days, when there were leaders like former Sen. Ted Stevens in Congress:

“Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) had a terrible relationship with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and greatly resented the “anti-torture” amendment that McCain added to Stevens’s defense appropriations bill in 2005. But Stevens ultimately decided that he couldn’t rightly use his backroom power to strip the language out in the House-Senate conference. If it were put to a vote, Stevens knew he would lose, and so he allowed McCain’s legislation to become law.

Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) — who was part of those defense talks — respected Stevens’s handling of the situation so much that he helped the Alaskan use the same bill to get a vote Stevens wanted: opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge more to oil and gas exploration.

Stevens lost ultimately on the Senate floor. But the whole transaction — between two veteran vote-counters who are now both deceased — illustrates something missing in Congress.”


Quote of the day

“I’m acknowledging we can’t probably defeat or get rid of Obamacare. But by starting with our position of not funding it, maybe we get to a position where we make it less bad.”

Republican Sen. Rand Paul, speaking to reporters Saturday at a gathering of Michigan Republicans.


Palin likely won’t run for Senate, but won’t shy from endorsing candidate in primary

palinOn Fox News Sunday, former Gov. Sarah Palin indicated that it was unlikely she would run for U.S. Senate, but said she wouldn’t shy from endorsing a candidate in the GOP primary. She said that although Sen. Ted Cruz and other “good guys” in the Senate need “reinforcements,” any reinforcement likely won’t include her.

“It takes someone who has the stomach and the patience that are necessary to live and dwell in the cesspool that is D.C., which is really quite corrupt,” she said. “I have young children. I want to keep them nice and pure.”

She did, however, suggest that she’s going to endorse another candidate in the GOP primary.

“I would endorse someone,” she said. “I’ve never been one to shy away from calling it like I see it, and putting my money on someone who is willing to serve for the right reasons, do the right thing, and not be a typical go-along-to-get-along politician. Certainly not a RINO,” Palin said.

It’s unclear who would get her endorsement. So far, former candidate Joe Miller and current Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell have officially announced that they are running. Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan is also expected to jump in.

Palin had been a Miller supporter in 2010, but that relationship might have irrevocably soured when Miller failed to say whether or not Palin was qualified to be president.

If she has a personal relationship with Treadwell, it’s gone under the radar. He wasn’t part of her administration and she and Treadwell’s mentor Wally Hickel had a strained relationship. Too, Treadwell told Politico that he would be “surprised” if Palin made an endorsement in the GOP primary. Palin doesn’t cotton well to politicians saying what she will and won’t do.

However, Treadwell is positioning himself as a family values candidate, and has made repealing ObamaCare one of his main campaign issues, as has Palin.

Palin recruited Sullivan to be Alaska’s attorney general, but it’s unclear if his ideology will align with hers.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Treadwell picks gaffe-prone Outsider as campaign spokesperson

Lieutenant Gov. Mead Treadwell has hired Rick Gorka to be a spokesman in his quest to run for U.S. Senate in the 2014 primary, which appears to be an interesting choice for the normally staid, rather august Treadwell.

Gorka, who is from Spokane, has for years worked for various Republican politicians and for the Republican National Committee. He was a regional spokesperson for the McCain-Palin campaign.

He also worked for Mitt Romney during his 2012 run. Gorka is probably most famous for his role in that campaign, when he traveled with Romney during an overseas tour which was later dubbed by one publication as National Lampoon’s European Diplomatic Tour.

The tour was a media disaster. First, Romney insulted the Brits when he implied that they weren’t doing enough to organize the Olympics, then the Palestinians with some odd comments about culture. The last leg of the trip included a tribute at the Polish Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. After the visit, the press tried to ask some questions about the trip’s gaffes, questions Romney apparently really didn’t want to answer.

“Kiss my ass. This is a holy site,” Rick Gorka yelled at one reporter at the holy site. He told another reporter to “Shove it.”

Gorka took some time off from the campaign after that.

As Treadwell’s guy, he is already making waves by twisting the facts. Most recently, he took a quote out of context by claiming that Sen. Mark Begich insulted Alaskans for saying that the national Republicans who want to unseat him are “outsiders.”

“I’ve been in a lot of tough races. Bring it on. I was born and raised here,” Begich told the Anchorage Daily News. “Those guys are visitors. Come on in, outsiders, and see how Alaskans treat ya.”

Gorka’s response via twitter:

Begich was obviously not talking about Alaskans who live in the state but were born elsewhere. He was referring to people like Gorka.

Unilke Treadwell’s campaign, most of Begich’s campaign staffers are Alaskans. Some born here, some not.

Amanda Coyne at 


Rumor alert: Exxon is poised to take over BP

According to people who keep track of such things, there’s “chatter” that ExxonMobil Corp., is poised to make a bid to take over BP. There’s also chatter that the chatter is bunk, but it was enough to make BP’s stock take a jump, if only temporarily.

Rumors that one company or another was going to take over BP have abound since the Deepwater disaster. In Alaska, there’s been chatter for longer. There may be nothing to all of this, but stack enough rumors atop each other, and they begin to mean something.

And in Alaska, where three majors — BP, Exxon, and ConocoPhillips – have the lease rights to nearly all the producing oil fields in the state, we should watch such rumors closely.

The last big oil takeover in Alaska was in 2000, when BP bought Arco, the company that discovered the Prudhoe Bay gusher. Tony Knowles was the governor then, and it was a major battle. After some heated lobbying, the Federal Trade Commission got involved over market consolidation and potential anti-trust issues.

FTC regulators required BP to sell its Arco Alaska assets. ConocoPhillips bought them, leaving BP with about a 30 percent stake on the North Slope. Exxon has about the same stake.

The deal was better for Alaska after the FTC’s involvement. If Alaska lost one of its majors and the competition that it spawned, the state would lose in both tangible and intangible ways. Back then, Alaska had a governor that was willing to fight, at least a little, for the state’s interest.

If talks of a merger prove to be valid, Alaska’s leadership will need to step up to insure that the state’s interests are protected.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Is Mead Treadwell afraid that Dan Sullivan will eat his lunch?

mayoIn a wide-ranging interview with Politico which took place in Washington D.C., Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who is running for U.S. Senate, all but called prospective candidate, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan, a carpetbagger.

“I’ve got a jar of mayonnaise in my refrigerator that’s been there longer than Dan Sullivan’s been in Alaska,” Treadwell told Politico.

Sullivan’s partial response, via email: “(A)fter moving to Alaska over 16 years ago, I learned something new today — not to eat any of Mead Treadwell’s sandwiches.”

Sullivan hasn’t officially announced, but has resigned his job effective Sept. 24, and everyone, including Treadwell, knows he’s going to. This will pit him against Treadwell and tea party candidate Joe Miller in a three-way primary race before running against U.S. Sen Mark Begich in the general election.

“Politically, this helps Joe Miller. And most importantly, it helps people who want to help Mark Begich by fomenting division in the Republican Party,” Treadwell said.

Asked about whether or not he would be a better candidate than Sullivan, Treadwell said that he’s “very happy to put my record out there and let the voters decide.”

Sullivan moved to Alaska in 1997 after getting a Georgetown law degree to clerk for judges, including Chief Justice Warren Matthews. He was in private practice until 2002, when he moved to D.C. to head the International Economics Directorate of the National Economic Council and National Security Council under George W. Bush. He left the White House to become an assistant secretary of state.

In 2009, then Gov. Sarah Palin appointed him to become Alaska’s attorney general. He’s now the commissioner of DNR. Sullivan has also served in the Marine Corps since 1993, both on active duty and in the reserves. He was recently called to active duty to work on a counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan.

Treadwell moved to Alaska in 1978 to work on Wally Hickel’s losing gubernatorial run. He returned in 1982 armed with a master’s from Harvard to work for Hickel’s company, Yukon Pacific which tried, but failed, to build a natural gas pipeline that would run from the North Slope to tidewater in Valdez. Hickel ran again for governor and won in 1990 and Treadwell served as his deputy commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

In 2001, Treadwell was appointed to the United States Arctic Research Commission by President George W. Bush. He became president of the commission in 2006. Throughout, he invested in a series of tech companies. He has been the state’s lieutenant governor since 2010, a job that’s been described by this writer, and by a columnist for the Anchorage Daily News, as not worthy of a “warm bucket of spit.”

According to Politico, Treadwell has been traveling across the country raising money. He’s recently been in Chicago, Columbus, Ohio and Oklahoma City. It’s unclear if any of these trips involved state business, and if not, whether Treadwell will reimburse the state for the time he has spent traveling for fundraisers.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Quote of the day from Pope Francis

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”

From a 12,000 word interview with Pope Francis which appeared in La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal, and was released simultaneously to 16 Jesuit journals around the world.


State board rules gay partners are ‘family’ over objection of Rep. Lora Reinbold

gay rights State of Alaska employees who are in same sex relationships will now be able to take leave due to a serious health condition of a same-sex partner. Like employees in heterosexual relationships, gay partners of state employees will now be defined as “immediate family,” the state personnel board decided on Thursday.

The rule goes into effect Oct. 16 19.

Gay marriage is constitutionally banned in Alaska. However, in 2005, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that because of the prohibition, it was unconstitutional to deny gay couples benefits that the state provides to heterosexual couples.

The state has mostly complied with the order. But it took the ACLU of Alaska to write a letter on behalf of a corrections officer to bring this to the court-ordered standard.

No matter that the state was complying with a Supreme Court decision, this issue still wrought controversy.

Alaska state Rep. Lora Reinbold, a Republican from Eagle River and chair of the Administrative Review Committee, wrote a letter to the board, urging it to delay voting on the issue. She said that the decision would be giving “special privileges to individuals who have in fact made a Life-Style Choice.” It’s a choice, she asserts, that has “no legal standing;” however, she provides no supporting documentation. She appears either unaware of the Supreme Court decision or chooses to disregard it.

She also wrote that calling gay couples “family” is “not in keeping with my interpretation of statue or the legislative intent.”

The State of Alaska Personnel Board is a three member board appointed by the governor and approved by the Legislature, which does not oversee the board.

Others wrote in support of the decision. A local medical doctor wrote that the Alaska Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatricians all have stated that equal rights for same sex partners and their families “create a more healthy family environment.”

Another wrote that her partner of 13 years has breast cancer, and that this proposal is “not giving any special rights but an equal right to all employees.”

In 2006, Gov. Sarah Palin vetoed a bill that would have prohibited the state from adopting the court-ordered, same-sex regulations. The law was unconstitutional, she said.

Palin is against same sex marriage. However, she said that “signing his bill would be in direct violation of my oath of office.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Offensive, creepy ad of the year award

This one goes to Generation Opportunity, a coalition of right-leaning groups with ties to the Koch brothers. It’s telling young women that if they sign up for Obamacare, a man in a creepy Uncle Sam costume will jam a speculum down their vaginas. The group is about to launch a 20-college tour in which they will try to persuade young people to “opt out” of Obamacare, the success of which heavily relies on young people signing up.



Will the government shut down? Who knows.

partisanshipWith the federal fiscal year quickly coming to an end, the U.S. House and Senate are still jostling to figure out what kind of continuing resolution it will pass. A continuing resolution is a type of appropriations legislation used by Congress to fund government if a formal appropriations bill hasn’t been passed by Sept. 30.

A group of very vocal, very conservative House Republicans wants so badly to kill the Affordable Care Act, that they are willing to allow a government shutdown on Oct. 1 by forgoing a continuing resolution that would provide funding to keep government operating.

For awhile, it looked like House Speaker John Boehner wasn’t going to capitulate to his right flank and take any chance of allowing that to happen. On Wednesday, however, he announced that he’s going to allow a vote on Friday that will provide funding to keep the government open, while stripping away money to implement portions of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA.

This is what the House conservatives were demanding.

It’s a risky move because the Senate has made clear that any measure it passes will retain funding for ACA, and Obama himself said he would not sign any measure that did not include funding for ACA.

The Senate intends to pass its own continuing resolution that includes funding for ACA.

Some pundits believe that Boehner hopes that sending the stopgap measure to the Senate might be enough to placate the right wing members of his caucus. Those members can then say they’ve tried and some sort of stopgap measure will then be passed that keeps government open.

According to Rep. Don Young’s office, this is exactly what some of the Republican right wing turks in the Senate — namely Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz — have asked for.

“(T)here is a vocal group of Republicans in the Senate that are demanding we use passing the CR (continuing resolution) as a vehicle to defund Obamacare,” Young’s spokesman Mike Anderson said. “House Republicans intend to give the Senate that chance.”

Anderson then goes on to point out that the House has voted more than 40 times to defund some or all of ACA. “(F)or the first time since it was forced through Congress without a single Republican vote, the Senate will finally be forced to show the American people where they stand with regards to this awful law,” he said.

Partisan politics will likely continue to play out for the remaining days of the fiscal year. The political showdown has just started. While some political observers believe that a continuing resolution will be passed to avert a shutdown, others aren’t so sure.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Joe Miller invited to speak at Nevada GOP meeting? What could possibly go wrong?

Politico is reporting that U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller has been invited to Las Vegas on Sept. 28 to speak at Nevada’s Republican Party’s annual Unity Dinner. The state GOP invited Miller to keynote the banquet, which will follow their state central committee meeting.

“Nevada shares some of the same challenges as Alaska, including vast federal ownership of land within the state,” Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto said, according to Politico. “An alliance with western states such as Nevada will be critical in moving our vision of greater state control forward.”

Some Nevada Republicans might hope their GOP doesn’t have too much in common with Alaska’s GOP, at least in terms of annual party conferences.

At the last annual GOP meeting in Alaska, Miller and his crowd of Tea Party and Ron Paul supporters heckled and booed Sen. Lisa Murkowski and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, who was invited to speak at the banquet.

They were also able to take over leadership of the Alaska Republican Party by getting their members elected to party positions during the convention.

It was a heady time for them until their efforts ultimately unraveled when it was discovered that the coterie proved ineffective at raising money.  Tensions ran so high that the chair fired nearly every unpaid party functionary, even the ones who were elected, before skipping town and changing the locks on the doors to the Republican Party headquarters in Anchorage.

Peter Goldberg is the new party chair. He is from Brooklyn, New York. His mother is Jewish. He is now a practicing Mormon. He was raised in orphanages across the city because his father was in prison. He is also a retired Army colonel. Word is he is running things well.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Quote of the day

“Due to budget cuts this year, we only receive janitorial services two days a week. We need a vacuum to make our classroom clean and ready for learning… Daily vacuuming is especially vital because we eat breakfast and lunch in the classroom…The other day I spied a cockroach, which are rare in Alaska. I don’t want to feed them!”

Ms. Becker, a teacher at Airport Heights Elementary School, trying to get the funds for a vacuum from, an online charity that raises money for classroom projects.